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LEADING QUESTIONS: Telamon CEO adopts unorthodox style

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where IBJ sits down with one of central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Albert Chen , founder and CEO of Telamon Corp., has based his career on a penchant for taking big risks and embracing trial and error. The native of Taiwan arrived in the U.S. in 1968 at the age of 25 with the simple goal of finding a job as an accountant. When that search was fruitless, he enrolled at Portland State College for graduate studies with no scholarship and a tenuous grasp of the English language. He eventually won a full ride, talked his way into an on-campus accounting job, and switched his focus from an MBA to mathematics. Adjusting on the fly, it turned out, would be his specialty.

After more than a decade with GTE, Chen founded Telamon in 1985. The firm's initial focus was developing and selling phone systems. It since has branched into a wide variety of products and services in several industries, including telecommunications, medical billing, logistics and supply-chain management. For 2009, Telamon reported revenue of $368 million and a workforce of 475 employees.

In the video below, Chen discusses elements of his somewhat unorthodox management style, as well as lessons learned from early blunders. He also explains why he admires Warren Buffett (not for the reason one might think) and how well he fits the "Year of the Horse" traits outlined in the Chinese zodiac.

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