Profiles: Richard Belluzzo
Managing Director, Corso Partners
Leading with a Hard Head & a Soft Heart
Rick Belluzzo is currently a managing director at Corso Partners. He was previously the CEO and Chair of Quantum Corp., the 30-year-old electronic records storage company located in San Jose, California, whose products store a trove of corporate data. The company sold its hard drive business in 2001 and Rick came aboard in 2002 charged with turning around Quantum and reinventing the stalwart storage company and former hard drive supplier into a storage systems company a tall order in todays highly competitive information technology market.
Going to college was not a tradition in his family; Rick was the first and only family member who graduated. In some ways I was typical of what GGU stood for. I attended Santa Rosa Junior College and had to pay my own way. The tuition was $11 per semester! I came to GGU because I had to work while finishing my degree. I took day classes and some night classes and was hired as an intern at Hood & Strong. It was a focused life. I took the bus back and forth and had classes in the morning, in the afternoon, and I worked in the financial district and studied on the bus. It took me 4 years and one additional semester to complete my degree.
Ricks experience provides a good example of how GGU fulfills its mission to provide practical experience to its students. It turns out that while I was at school, all the jobs I landed came via Golden Gate University! My tax instructor worked at Hood & Strong. After I earned an A in his class, he invited me to intern there. Then I took a cost accounting class with an instructor who worked at Hewlett Packard, which allowed me in a roundabout way to get a job at Hewlett Packard when I graduated. Learning and going to workit fit together quite well. I cant describe anything more practical than that!
It is clear that Rick credits his experience at Hewlett Packard with sculpting his professional personality and honing his leadership skills. He started with HP in their Santa Rosa office, before moving to Boise, Idaho, where he spent most of his effort establishing the companys laser printer and imaging divisions. After 22 years of success, Rick was confronted with the decision to try to become the CEO of HP or to try something different. After some thought, Belluzzo resigned from Hewlett Packard in 1998, and left Boise, Idaho, to become President and CEO of Silicon Graphics Inc. in Redwood City, California, a high-end graphics computer manufacturer, which at its peak boasted annual sales of $4 billion and employed 10,000 people.
After two years at SGI, Rick left after putting in a great deal of effort to salvage the business, whose products were being eclipsed by the desktop PC. However, shortly after leaving SGI, Belluzzo was hired to head up Microsofts Consumer and Commerce Group, which included MSN Internet services, the XBox video game and a series of other consumer-oriented businesses. In February 2001, he assumed the role of President and COO, where he would remain until a major restructuring in April 2002.
After leaving Microsoft, Belluzzo was enlightened by Barry Diller, the highly-regarded CEO and Chair of IAC. IAC operates leading and diversified businesses in sectors being transformed by the Internet, including Expedia, Ticketmaster, Lending Tree, RealEstate.com, Match.com, Citysearch, and Evite. Diller spoke persuasively about the evolution of the Internet in the technology industry and the need for leaders with Ricks skills to help troubled companies through transformation. Rick was inspired to look at the opportunity to run Quantum Corp.
Thinking back on his education, Rick remembers Golden Gate University fondly: GGU was a perfect fit for me. It is a special place. I enjoyed my time there. GGUs mission to offer practical education to working adults is worth more today than ever. GGU continues to serve a real purpose in the needs of working people, just as it did for me. In the past you went to college and then to work for one company where you stayed and worked, and that tended to be what you did for the remainder of your career. Now, thats not good enough. We have to think about reinventing ourselves during our careers, and having a formal academic process to support that changeover is essential.