CEO's advice: Keep up with the news

Being a newspaper reporter, I appreciated what H. Paulett Eberhart, the chief executive of CDI Corp., said about the value of news. "I think it's really important to read a lot and to be up on the news, current events, economics, social, political, so that if you are out at a dinner or a luncheon, you can join in the conversation," she said.

That's especially important if the food's bad!

H. Paulett Eberhart

Eberhart and I were coming to the end of our interview last week -- the one that formed the basis for Sunday's Inquirer profile. So, I asked her if she had any career advice. She began talking about the importance of "just trying to stay current.

"You're not trying to change someone's opinion, but you're just trying to be able to have an intelligent conversation about what's happening in the world. I think that people need to do that more as opposed to just talk about business in their current world. You have to branch out and understand the world in a larger view."

Eberhart heads CDI Corp., a Philadelphia-based engineering and technology staffing firm with 175 employees in Philadelphia, where it is headquartered, and more than 9,000 globally. CDI reported $1.1 billion in 2012 revenues.

"People ask me for career advice," she said, "and the first thing I tell them is do something you enjoy. You have to have some fun along the way. If you are not, you really have to look at that and figure out what it is that will bring you joy.

"I think you have to have balance in your life," she said, talking about work/life balance. "You have to be comfortable with that balance and it's different for everyone. You have to find your comfort zone in there."

She continued: "The other thing that I look back that I would have done different and I encourage people to do is network. I think it is really important to keep your network up.

"Earlier in my career, not that I'm not busy now, because I'm extremely busy, you keep your head down, in the environment I was in, and you work really hard. I really didn't network and spend time keeping up relationships and contacts with people," she said. "I think that's really important, particularly in today's world as inter-connected as we are. "

On Monday and Tuesday, I blogged about Eberhart's approach to decision making. In the Sunday print piece, she talked about the lessons she learned from bad bosses.