Jim Kavanaugh is the co-founder and CEO of World Wide Technology. From St. Louis, Missouri Jim played collegiate soccer, then he played for the U.S. Olympic men’s soccer team in 1984 and finally for the Major Indoor Soccer League. He graduated from St. Louis University and began his business career as a sales manager for Future Electronics. He has been recognized two years in a row by Glassdoor as one of the top ranking CEOs for all large businesses in the U.S. He was ranked #2 in 2017 and #11 in 2018.
World Wide Technology began in 1990 as a company that was a small product reseller. It has moved into a technology solution provider where they help large public and private organizations discover, evaluate, architect and implement advanced technology. They are headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with $10.4 billion in annual revenue. WWT currently has more than 4,600 employees world-wide. They are ranked 8 on Glassdoors’ Best Places to Work list for 2018 and 40 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for list.
What is the role of CEO?
“As a leader of an organization you need to be able to look at things at a 30,000 foot view,” Jim says. Also, understand, what are the most important things as they pertain to your organization. Focus on how you make an impact.
That executive needs to paint the vision from that high level perspective. But they also need to be able to dropdown to the details. For example, if the goal is a new initiative, this might require you to be in the details until it is designed and built. Your goal is to get it going and then delegate it off.
People want to know that you understand the business. See the vision, paint the vision but also have a good understanding of the day to day processes of the business.
How does one become a leader in general and at WWT?
1. Begin by understanding what is important to that business.
– How does it define success?
– How are you delivering and overachieving on the objectives of the goals of the company?
– What are the values of the organization that drive them? Make sure they align with your values – make sure you are a good cultural fit.
– Live and breathe those values.
2. Personally challenge yourself.
– Do a self assessment of yourself.
– Where are your strengths, what do you need to do better?
– How do people perceive you? Challenge yourself to grow.
3. At WWT, they have a leadership curriculum. They align business concepts and values and they train leaders to be the best manager using these concepts and values.
When asked, what is unique at WWT to have scored so high on best places to work surveys, Jim says you have to care about your employees. They are very smart, if you think you can just say you care and not really do anything to show that– it won’t work. If the leadership teams show that they care about employees, then it is a successful culture.
You must do the right thing from a cultural perspective. This includes both for employees and their families – in order to be healthy from a cultural perspective.
Also, you need to be a smart organization. Set a vision; build an organization with clarity and alignment to the mission. It also must include the right leadership that can build the structure of the organization to allow for growth.
What is the mission at WWT?
To be a profitable growth company that is also a great place to work.
This mission has been around for 15 years. It is three-fold:
1. Profitable – employees need to be accountable to the goals of the organization
2. Growth – this is important to allow WWT to attract the best talent in the industry
3. Create a great place to work – do the right things for the right reasons
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
● Jim’s advice on how to grow within your company
● How do you know the right person to hire
● What do you do if you don’t ‘like’ your job
● How to overachieve without killing yourself
● What is the role of a CEO
● How WWT keeps getting high ratings on employee experience surveys
Link from the episode: