Position: Vice president, global sales and client solutions -- U.S. Government for Electronic Data Systems Corp. The division Duffey heads is based in Herndon and is part of a global information technology services company with headquarters in Plano, Tex. EDS has about 5,000 employees in the Washington area.

Career highlights: Duffey has spent about 21 years at EDS, serving in a variety of positions including: vice president, executive operations, global sales and client solutions; president, U.S. client care, operations solutions; chief sales officer; vice president, information solutions for Asia-Pacific South; managing director of operations in Italy; managing director of operations in Spain and Portugal; and deputy general counsel, international operations. Before that, he was a trial lawyer, office of general counsel, U.S. Navy.

Age: 54

Education: BA, political science, University of Virginia; JD, New England School of Law.

Personal: Lives in McLean with wife, Deborah, and their son, Jimmy, 10.

How did you get to where you are? I have a few fundamental principles that guide me. One is I like to be around people and I like to be able to make a difference in whatever I'm doing. And that led me to the law. The law provided me with an approach to issues that is disciplined and ordered: You take a difficult issue and break it up into components that are more manageable to reach a just and fair resolution. But I concluded that the difference I made in law was isolated to one company and impacted fewer people. The resolution was either favorable or unfavorable. And after a while the companies' names changed, but the issues were all fairly similar and repetitive. And I decided to branch out and change to a more operational environment where I could have a larger impact.

When I switched from law to business, I think the impact was felt by more people -- every employee and every subsidiary that I was responsible for. The challenge was to allow our customers to reach their goals and make a difference to the application of technology.

Throughout my career, I've followed a pretty simple series of beliefs, like being totally honest with others, whether they're clients or colleagues; being passionate about what I do and trying to ignite that passion in others; sharply focusing on issues and then taking action; giving people the freedom to do what they do best and then turning them loose to do it; and tempering all of that with a pretty robust sense of humor.

Most of my EDS career has been spent overseas, and one of the most important lessons I've learned over there is the importance of cultural differences -- understanding how different people interact, how they do business, what they consider to be a success, who and what they admire and how they view life. You can't sell a service unless you first understand where your client is coming from. I've found that understanding makes for better business partners and better global neighbors. Cultural understanding also has helped me become more flexible so that I can adapt to changing markets and meet the changing customer's needs. . . .

I find that the marketplace in the world is all moving along an evolutionary scale of information technology sophistication. And the big challenge was to identify where in that scale the marketplace was. The U.K. was fairly evolved. The Northern European market was fairly evolved. The Mediterranean countries were slowly evolving. When you are trying to grow business, you need to present product and services that meet the demands that exist in each marketplace. The challenge was that the demand in each marketplace was never the same. And the level of sophistication varied from country to country. What would be in demand in the U.K. would not necessarily be the same in Spain. . . .

I have to share credit for my professional success with my wife, Deborah, and my son, Jimmy. We've packed up and moved together all over the world. We're a team.