Position: President of Master Key Consulting, an information technology consulting firm in Bethesda.
After joining the Army Reserve to pay for college, David Fraley decided to move to Silicon Valley to begin a career in information technology. He has remained in the field ever since.
When was your first leadership position?
It was 20 years ago. I was an Army platoon leader right out of college when I was in active duty.
How has your leadership evolved since then?
I think I was 22 at that time. The younger you are, the more brash you are. Then you start to gain some maturity. If you ask me what the best career advice I would give anyone, it would be to have patience and active listening skills. At my last company, it was very customer centric. So the listening skills were important.
Most valuable advice from a mentor?
To define a career path and stay really, really focused on it. It is hard. If you’re going to be a dogcatcher, be the best darn dogcatcher you can be and one of these days you’ll run the city pound. Obviously I didn’t want to be working in the city pound, but I knew I should be the best that I could be and not waver in focus.
What military skill had the most bearing on your civilian business career?
Leadership training, without a doubt. The military is very big on formal leadership training. But it’s also big on the school of hard knocks, as well. You can read about it, but leadership is what you have to do. The ability to listen, motivate and lead colleagues is priceless.
What does it take to be successful in the IT industry?
Staying current. The question I struggled with is what is the half-life of your technical knowledge? At one time I was really good at a specific technology. But it’s no longer used. To be a technologist requires lifelong learning. If you don’t keep current and maintain today’s value, that which had value will diminish over time to the point where you’ll have career issues. You have to have synergy, laser focus and self-motivation.
— Compiled by Vanessa Small