Linda Ann Goodspeed, 44, has moved among companies as well as roles during her career. "I stayed with a company long enough to understand how it worked, then moved," says Goodspeed, now executive vice president and chief supply chain, logistics and technology officer at Lennox International, a heating and refrigeration company in Texas.
"I never really had a central strategy; I just wanted to grow and learn as much as possible and always feel challenged in the positions that I held," Goodspeed says. "Some people view moving between companies as being risky, but I viewed it as another challenge. I think that if you work hard, remain challenged and stretch yourself to the level of being uncomfortable, then you are growing. If you can do that within the same company, then you should strive to do that."
Goodspeed, who has a mechanical engineering background, says that when she started working at Ford Motor Co. in the late 1980s, "there were two computers for 200 engineers." She did some interface programming for heavy truck onboard diagnostic equipment.
From Ford, Goodspeed went to Nissan Motor in 1994, where she was part of a team that developed several systems for tracking documentation when Nissan opened a research and development division in Michigan, U.S.
She then moved to General Electric in 1996 before becoming president of a dot-com and finally moving to Lennox.
"From GE management, I moved back and forth from the traditional design engineering group to running a business at a dot-com, then back to technology roles," Goodspeed says. "Moving between companies gave me a different perspective on business as I changed between different industries and experienced different business cultures."
Goodspeed credits GE with helping her develop as a leader. "The company takes risks on people and moves them into roles that are increasingly challenging, and it has confidence in what they're capable of," she says. She tries to develop her co-workers in the same way, encouraging them to gain a mix of technology and business experience.
Rod Flory, vice president and CIO at Lennox, reports to Goodspeed and manages Lennox's IT organization. "I started in IT out of college as an application developer supporting the manufacturing operations area, then I progressed to various IT management positions," he says. "Coming from the application area and supporting various business functions really helped me develop business acumen."
Goodspeed agrees: "I had exposure to IT within each role of my career and quickly learned how valuable it is as a business enabler. It's a valuable learning experience to be a part of a business unit to really understand the business needs, and it's important for Rod to also have this experience at some point in his career."
Lennox CEO Robert Schjerven deserves credit for having the "foresight to give me the freedom to grow this position to best deliver results to our bottom line," says Goodspeed. "The chief technology officer role enables Lennox to drive technology into the business, which enhances our competitive advantage."
Flory says he is grateful to Goodspeed for changing the role and perception of IT at Lennox. "Linda represents IT well as part of [Lennox's] executive management team," he says. "Since she has joined the company, it seems as though IT has gained a seat at the executive management table."
Even after reaching the executive level, Goodspeed says, "I never feel like I'm done. I'm always looking for new ways of doing things and new ideas."