Glory days: How high school shaped nine IT leaders

Jock? Geek? Artist? Underachiever? Do our high school selves predict our career paths?

Is the child father to the man? Or is the woman a reaction to the child she was? Maybe each of us is the result of a combination of straight lines and U-turns on our life's journey.

We asked nine IT leaders to reflect on their high school selves and how their younger personas affected the adults they've become and the careers they've forged. Their insights are surprising, funny, tender and wise.

Bogdan Butoi

  • CTO, Animas Corporation
My high school self: I was a combination of a rebel and a nerd. I grew up in Romania, and I rebelled against some of the things we were forced to learn in high school that didn't apply to real life.

For instance, I was once thrown out of an economics class because I told the professor that capital gains were superior to the communist belief in value gains. I told her I preferred to have extra money than extra products on the shelf.

At the same time, I was always writing code in the computer lab between classes. There was a large group of us, and we even spent summers at school working on the computers. Both my parents were in technology, so I got exposed at an early age.

Others would have voted me most likely to... Become president or go to jail.

How my high school persona helped form the person I am today: While the rebel part calmed down a little bit, it still helps me challenge the status quo and the processes people take for granted. I always challenge people when they say, "This is how you have to do it."

At the same time, I've learned to approach people in a politically correct way, especially when I sense their blood pressure going up. If I could go back to that economics class, I'd know how to rephrase my arguments without being thrown out.

Advice to young people who view themselves as I did: Don't get molded by the so-called standard. We all have qualities from early childhood that sometimes we try to change because we feel we'll be labeled or rejected by society. I see a lot of students who think, "I shouldn't do this because it's not cool," so they try to live two lives between the image they project and what they really are. In the long term, having this dual personality hurts.

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