Thomas Burns recently spoke about his time in the U.S. Air Force and the business skills he acquired from his previous roles before joining ENSCO as president and CEO, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
Burns, founder of technology firms Object Video and SET, previously served as senior vice president at Science Applications International Corp.
In an interview with the Post reporter Kathy Orton, he explained that his military experience prepared him to be a leader in the technology field.
“I think that was particularly important for me because I ended up leading in a world that is very different than a military world,” Burns told the newspaper.
Burns also served a stint at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency prior to entering the private sector.
“DARPA is, I guess I would characterize it as the [Defense Department’s] venture capital arm,” he stated, according to Orton’s article.
“They teach you how to take risks and how to be comfortable with taking risks, and if you’re sort of inclined to be an entrepreneur, I think it really comes out in that type of environment,” he added.
He told The Post that treating employees with empathy and compassion was among the lessons he learned from running a business.
Burns also shared the best advice he has received from a colleague and corporate leader.
“Successful people succeed by getting up after they fail and staying with it because you’re going to fail a lot, especially if you’re in the research and development world.”