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February 2003

Profile: Symantec CEO John Thompson

On the eve of John W. Thompson's arrival at Symantec in April 1999, the Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Silicon Valley to complain about the dearth of minority leaders in IT. No one was more dismayed at the timing than the Northern California company's new chief executive. Granted, Thompson also encouraged fellow African-Americans to consider IT careers. But, as he correctly predicted, the news media seized on the coincidence. "John very much wanted to be accepted into this new position as the best choice, which he absolutely was. But because of Jesse Jackson being there, half the stories focused on the racial aspect of the appointment," recalls R.S. "Steve" Miller, CEO of Bethlehem Steel and the Symantec board member who recruited Thompson. Thompson still generates a lot of press, but these days it's because of the direction he's steering his company--one that defies conventional wisdom and, for the moment, appears to be working. Full Name: John Wendell Thompson Age: 53 Education: B.A., business administration, Florida A&M ...

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