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April 2013, Volume 1, Number 2

Would-be Softie embraces another IT leadership path

John Poonnen, director of global IT at clinical trials facilitator Quintiles Inc., will never forget that day back in 1979. He was living just outside Seattle, doing some network-related consulting work at the University of Washington, when a friend invited him to apply for a job at a small personal-computer software company in nearby Redmond. John Poonnen Title: Director of global IT Organization: Quintiles Inc. Headquarters: Durham, N.C. Poonnen reacted with a simple question: "What is a personal computer?" Then, after deciding that a PC was essentially a large calculator, he turned the offer down. That was the day that Poonnen rejected a chance to get in on at the ground floor at Microsoft. "Talk about foolish choices. Talk about not seeing the future. Everybody including the janitor became multimillionaires," Poonnen said with a hint of wistfulness in his voice. "Life is full of missed opportunities." But here's the surprising thing: He remembers that day fondly. Throughout his 35-plus year career, Poonnen has consistently ...

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