By Michael Reardon
When Michael Daniels entered Holy Cross in 1972, political activism was at its peak. At the time, Daniels' father was the deputy director of intelligence at the National Security Agency. A political science major, Daniels hoped to follow in his father's footsteps and make a career in government. But, after a short stint working at the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C., the idealistic young man had soured on the idea of working in politics.
"That job taught me that politics was a pretty rough business and not what I thought it would be," Daniels says.
Today, as senior vice president for IBM Global Technology Services, Daniels is responsible for the company's business operations around the world in strategic outsourcing, integrated technology services, maintenance and small and medium business services — as well as IBM Global Financing. These businesses account for nearly half of the revenue generated by IBM, the leading business and IT services company in the world.
Daniels, who joined IBM in 1976, has held a number of leadership positions with the corporation — in sales, marketing and services. He has been general manager of Product Support Services, Availability Services and Systems Solutions. Before becoming senior vice president for Global Technology Services, Daniels was general manager of IBM's Sales and Distribution operations in the United States, Canada and Latin America; prior to that, he led the IBM Global Services team in the Asia Pacific region.
According to Daniels, high technology is exciting because of its ever-changing landscape.
"When I started at IBM, the computerization on the space shuttle would be a tenth of what you would find on your desktop today," he says. "In our business, high technology changes fundamentally every 36 months."
Daniels met his future wife, Patty, at Holy Cross, although the two didn't start dating until they became reacquainted while working in Washington, D.C., following graduation.
The old Holy Cross ties remain strong for Daniels. He still keeps in touch with Jerry Durkin, his best friend when both were undergraduates.
"He's married with a family in Pennsylvania," Daniels says. "We went to Washington together as juniors. In fact, my daughter just sublet her apartment in Manhattan to his daughter."
Daniels' four years at Holy Cross had a profound influence on his personal and professional life. Like most graduates, Daniels says that the lessons he learned at Holy Cross guide him throughout his days.
"Holy Cross leaves an impact on you in regard to how you approach problems," Daniels says.
"I manage 120,000 people," he continues. "Holy Cross taught me that there is plenty of room for discourse and different opinions — it teaches you the importance of bringing people into the process. The more views you hear, the better. Holy Cross sets the standard for excellence and performance."
Were you involved with any clubs, organizations or sports at Holy Cross?
I played lacrosse for three years. I still follow the team.
Do you have a favorite book, television show or movie?
Cormac McCarthy's latest novel, The Road, is a book I've recently read that made an impression on me. It's spectacular. It's about a father and son in a world with no hope, but they somehow find a reason to hope. The love and trust between them just tears at you.
Who was your biggest influence at Holy Cross?
Fr. John Paris — he taught ethics. I went to a high school where less than 50 percent of the graduates went to college. I was never taught to think the way he taught me to think. When you study ethics, you go right to the core of human values. He forced me to use logic and defend my position. It was an opening of the mind. He was a great inspiration.
What is your proudest personal accomplishment?
I have three marvelous kids. All are productive members of society.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I'm a hopeless romantic. Give me a good love story any day or a great baseball movie, such as Fever Pitch, For the Love of the Game or Bull Durham.
Whom do you most admire?
I've always admired Winston Churchill. He had enormous conviction. He was a Renaissance man.
- Birthplace: Winooski, Vt., August 10, 1954
- Current Residence: Ridgefield, Conn.
- Family: Wife, Patty (Podolak) '77. Children, Kate, 26; Megan, 24; and Tom, 20
- Profession: Senior Vice President, IBM Global Technology Services
- Boards: Member of the board of directors of The Japan Society, a private, nonprofit institution that promotes understanding and cooperation between the United States and Japan, culturally and through the arts. Founded in 1907 by the Rockefeller family, the organization is based in New York. Daniels lived in Tokyo for three years.