Reply To: Business Education


“… (by Mark Kimmet) Ken,

How did you learn to manage Sierra, from startup to conglomerate? Are you a natural leader, did you attend b-school, or did you read any books or attend any training that you felt made a huge impact on your leadership and management style?

Thanks for creating this site. The opportunity to communicate with you and other people that grew up with Sierra is fantastic.


I attended about two years of college, as a physics major, but that’s it. I would have to honestly admit that when Sierra started I was not a great anything, except perhaps computer programmer. I was 25 years old, with about about seven years of solid software engineering experience. During my first 10 years with Sierra, I made a LOT of mistakes. Had the industry not been growing at an incredible pace, Sierra wouldn’t have survived. Read the book Hackers. It chronicles my “coming of age.” I was a smart 25 year old, but, 25 is 25 — and, I had a lot of growing up to do.

My last 10 years with Sierra was a more positive experience. I lacked an MBA, but I had some very serious on-the-job training, and some basic common sense — and, most importantly, a healthy dose of willingness to do whatever it took to succeed. It also helped that Sierra’s reputation was such that good people wanted to work there. If you take anyone, and surround them with 1,000 brilliant, hard working people, they WILL succeed. We had an amazing group of employees. Sierra was perceived as “the place” to work, and we could select the best of the best.

It was an amazing time. Over my nearly 20 years, I grew from being horribly weak as a manager, to being someone who capable of competing in a very tough marketplace. And, had fun doing so!

-Ken W

PS – This really is me who answered .. I was signed in as Patrick helping him figure out why his computer is refusing to sign in to the website, and forgot to sign back in as myself.