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One smart move that led to the corner office

Executives share career-changing actions


January 8, 2016
By Walt Williams

A life in associations was the last thing John Gray contemplated when he went back to school to earn his MBA after spending the first part of his career as a lawyer. His direction changed when he responded to an ad posted on a bulletin board at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The ad described an opening at the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Gray didn’t have the qualifications the association was looking for, but decided to take a shot.

Just a few days later, the job candidate heard back from GMA’s then-CEO George Koch, who quickly arranged an interview.

“At the end, he said ‘I don’t know what you are doing in this town, but don’t take a job until you talk to me again,’” said Gray, now CEO of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association.