||Director, data initiatives and strategic projects
||Develops business information solutions
Don Bober is Director, data initiatives and strategic projects for Experian Business Information Solutions, a division of Costa Mesa, CA-based Experian.
Q. Why did you choose your profession?
A. I got my degree in business information and computer systems in the early '70s. But while I wanted to use my MIS skills, I didn't see myself as a full-time programmer. I needed the customer interaction. I've been with the company 30 years, and everything I've done has combined those interests. Now, I'm helping to develop a new database of small business information for banks, retailers, and the like.
Q. How did you get started?
A. When I graduated from college, a unique opportunity at [Experian] came up, helping to build a database of consumer credit information for credit originators in Chicago. I worked with sales and marketing and our customers to build a database that could be shared locally and nationally. Then I was transferred to Florida, where I did the same thing; then I was transferred to Atlanta, where I was responsible for 13 states in the South.
Q. What did you do then?
A. In 1985, I was asked to help build a database of business credit information. After that, I worked in several other areas -- as a national sales manager working with resellers of our information, and on the consumer side, helping major customers develop modeling and risk-scoring techniques. But then, I was asked to come back to business credit on the senior leadership team, working on developing a new program aimed at small business information. It's a special database, just for members -- banks, major retailers and so on -- with information on small businesses, to help improve the credit management process.
Q. What have been the biggest challenges you've faced?
A. The biggest challenge has been the volatile U.S. economy, with its impact on commercial credit and small business in general. Another major challenge has been convincing customers to provide us with their accounts receivable information, showing them why it's in their interest.
Q. What are your favorite resources?
A. I use the Web a lot for obtaining information, doing searches on information regarding the economy, what's going on in commercial credit, what's going on with major customers. I subscribe to a number of magazines -- Harvard Business Review, Inc., and several magazines published by the National Association of Credit Management.
Q. What is your most useful gadget?
A. I have a laptop with a docking station. When I travel, I take my laptop with me and, in a hotel room, I can dial into the computer and get all the information I need. With my cell phone, I can keep up with voice and email, responding at a moment's notice.
Q. What advice would you give someone just starting out in your profession?
A. Get a degree in business information. You also have to be extremely organized. Everybody has so many responsibilities; you're not going to be very successful in your position otherwise. And you have to be an effective planner, planning for short-term and long-term goals. You need to develop a business plan for yourself and the company. Also, you have to learn continuously. Things are changing so rapidly, especially in the technology area. That means learning new techniques, new technologies, always being up to date on the current state of the art. You never stop learning.