Decisions: Terri Kelly - WL Gore & Associates - CEO and president of the US gore-tex maker

MY BEST...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

... was to take a leap outside of my comfort zone. A lot of people didn't think it was possible to sell Gore-Tex fabrics to the armed forces, and one of my early projects was to develop just that. I knew nothing about the military or its specifications, so the learning curve was just phenomenal. There was a lot of scepticism as to whether we'd ever succeed, but that was the beginning of a whole new technical segment for our fabrics business. It's now one of our most successful, so that's a source of pride. I learnt a lot from the experience. At the time, I questioned whether I could be successful.

Another best decision was marrying my husband. If I think about my work and that we have four children, it's quite a juggling act, and having someone who supports me is really great. I always feel that there's a healthy balance for me in being able to pursue what I love to do and yet still have a family that is stable. My husband started in banking, but when we ended up having our twins he decided to call it quits, so he's running the household right now.

MY WORST...

... was about 10 years year ago, when I was part of the Gore leadership team responsible for the technical fabrics division. We went through a painful phase and I contributed to that because I was very focused on my piece of the world but not necessarily doing what was right for the enterprise.

That was a microcosm of what was happening in all of Gore. During that time, we saw a slowdown in our growth. It prompted a lot of folk to question whether our culture was scaleable. I knew in my heart that the Gore culture was something special and the main source of our strength, but a lot of new associates were coming in, questioning whether there was going to be a fundamental change.

We realised that the culture wasn't the problem - we just hadn't done the right job in stewarding it as we grew from several hundred to several thousand associates. There weren't enough formal and informal mechanisms to ensure that we were working collectively. That was the big learning there - and you're never really done!

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