Irene F. Lefton

Occupation:  VP, Professional Services and Support, ABBYY USA
First Car:  Copper colored 1969 Dodge Dart. It was used, beat up and didn’t have matching wheels, but it got me around town to work and school.
Favorite Restaurant: China Stix in Santa Clara CA. I also love The Fish Market (many locations in CA) and Alioto’s on Fisherman’s Wharf.
 1.   What are three things most people don’t know about you?

a). I am an avid Hot Air Balloon Fan and Crew member participating in the Albuq. International Balloon Fiesta for over 30 years

b). I have a subscription for box seats at the Hollywood Bowl and still head to Los Angeles for outdoor classical music concerts 3 or 4 times a year.

c). I spent a lot of time helping build boards of directors for non profit Arts organizations in Los Angeles in the 1980’s. Most of those organizations are still around.

2.   What’s been your greatest adventure in life?
I’m lucky to have had many great adventures. I love to travel and have been many places. One of the greatest adventures was living in Zurich Switzerland for 18 months and traveling throughout Europe by train.
3.   What’s your best childhood memory?
Being outside and playing with friends and my brother and cousin, riding bikes, skinning our knees on skateboards (before knee pads and helmets) and making snowmen in the wintertime.
4.   If you could have a conversation with a person of your choice, past, present or future, who would that person be and why?
John Muir – he loved the outdoors, respected and appreciated its beauty and managed to start a movement that allowed us to preserve not only the land, culminating in the National Parks, but also his view of it through his photography and images. I think there is much to learn from what he did.
5.   What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life?
Losing my parents (at different times), and other loved one’s and accepting that many things in life are not within our control. Learning to live in the present and living each day and moment to the fullest. It’s an ongoing lesson – I need to relearn all the time.
6.   Tell us about your favorite hobby.
It’s cooking these days – but there have been many over the years. I enjoy the creativity of putting together a lovely meal, and sharing it with friends and family.
7.   What are you currently reading? What is your favorite book?
I always have a couple of books going. Currently reading “My Life in France” by Julia Child and “Crazy Busy” by Edward Hallowell.
My favorite business book is “Smart Questions” by Dorothy Leeds. I have too many other favorites to name just one.
8.   Is there a particular place or thing you want to see?
Many places yet to see. Australia and New Zealand and Israel are definitely on my list of priorities.
9.   If you could give $10,000 to a charity, what would that charity be
and why?
Difficult choice, but maybe Rising Star Music Fund – a non-profit that is raising money to bring music education and programs to children who don’t have access. Why – because most school districts have eliminated music programs, and I feel the arts and music are critical.
10. If you weren’t on the professional services career track, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine. Consulting and Services have been in my make up since my first job, initially as a dream and then in practice. When I decide to retire, I will probably work in a non-profit.
11. What is the path that led you to Professional Services/Consulting?
When I finished my MBA, I was in “general business” and I landed in application development – I realized that “outsiders” always seemed to have more credibility and were better able to “get things done” so I went to work for PW, and have had something to do with Services or Consulting ever since.
12. What advice would you give to a recent graduate who just took a job in professional services?
Ask good questions, keep learning – and remember that adding value to your customer and your company are the best path to success.