Chairman's Newsletter: April 2021
Greetings, WWT family and friends! With the first quarter behind us, I pray the New Year is off to a wonderful beginning for you and your families.
As we forge ahead in 2021, it is important to take with us the lessons learned from the hardships we faced this past year. While 2020 presented many obstacles for WWT and the entire world, I want to reflect on the positive aspects that can help shape a promising future for us all.
As you contemplate the challenges the pandemic brought into your world, it is my sincere hope that you will also remember the blessings in disguise that were brought into your lives.
As the pandemic forced the closure of many businesses, schools, and the majority of the WWT campuses, we were all forced to embrace a new way of life. At first, we were hopeful the adjustment would be brief. We quickly realized that may not be the case. Now a year later, we are well aware of new ways of working, educating our children and staying connected with family and friends. Taken collectively, this represents a reality that has become our “new normal.”
These changes, while difficult to endure, have also yielded extraordinary blessings. I know we miss gathering in person, but I have heard from many who have spent more time connecting with family and friends, albeit virtually, as we realized the importance of letting others know just how much they mean to us. For some, juggling work from home while being a primary educator for our children was certainly not without its own unique trials. However, many of us came to know a very special bond with our kids that we might otherwise not have thought possible.
As a business, WWT was blessed to have not just survived over the last 12 months, but to thrive. We are privileged to be helping many of our customers pivot their organizations as they re-evaluate the way they conduct business. We have provided critical assistance to many essential businesses, such as hospitals, communications organizations and government facilities, by ensuring their ability to provide vital services to those whom they serve.
The Chairman’s Newsletter has always aimed to help better connect our board of directors with the greater WWT family. I recently asked Rich McClure for his thoughts on this past year. As former CEO of a major St. Louis-based global organization and now serving as WWT’s lead director, Rich brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective to our board, particularly in regard to WWT’s operations.
Rich said it was WWT’s high-performance spirit, anchored by our strong culture and core values, that positioned us to put a relentless focus on customer success and, ultimately, prosper in the midst of a global pandemic.
Here is more of what Rich had to say, “The WWT go to market strategy that leads with value-added services and an ATC platform to sell those services has proven to be the right approach during this complex time for our customers. Our future opportunities are truly unlimited. Focusing on services that lead to digital transformation for our customers is something WWT planned for and was prepared to execute upon when COVID-19 hit. Now we are executing at scale to help customers grow with game changing solutions."
I am deeply grateful and thankful for Rich and all of our board members. Their leadership and guidance, along with the dedication of our tremendous employees, ensures WWT will continue to thrive well into the future. I am also incredibly grateful for the confidence each customer places in WWT and thank them for the blessing of their continued trust and partnership in 2020. I look forward to strengthening these relationships in 2021 and beyond.
One of my favorite blessings from the pandemic has been the establishment of the WWT Family & Friends Prayer Calls, and the ability for all to submit prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. What began as a way to help us cope with fear, anxiety and isolation has blossomed into a ministry that is positively impacting thousands of lives. We have heard stirring testimonies and inspiring messages from many wonderful speakers and have been blessed with musical talent that leaves everyone who tunes in with smiles on their faces and a song in their hearts.
On our last prayer call (March 31), we had the privilege of hearing from musical group Korean Soul. We were honored to have longtime friend of the Steward Family, Sooyong Yoon, from the band join us live all the way from South Korea. We also heard from Dave Peacock, president and COO of Schnuck Markets, honoring us with his story of meeting Todd Schnuck through Biblical Business Training and reminding us to always count our blessings, even in the face of a global pandemic!
We never know what our speaker’s topic will be, and we typically have artists and speakers scheduled many weeks in advance. Korean Soul’s participation was indeed timely, and Dave’s message was the perfect segue into this newsletter. While man may make the plans, God orchestrates the steps! I look forward to continuing these special moments of fellowship well into the future.
If you have not joined us, I invite everyone from all walks of life to tune in every other Wednesday on wwt.tv or catch up on previous prayer calls by viewing this playlist on our WWT platform. Of course, these calls remain optional; and I respect everyone’s right to choose to join or not to join. I would like to thank our entire prayer call team, all who have expressed their gratitude and desire to continue the prayer calls, as well as to those who have respectfully offered a different perspective.
WWT, like our world, is made up of people from different social, racial, religious and political backgrounds. It is my prayer that our world will someday recognize the unique value that every individual brings to our society.
It is heartbreaking that we continue to see disturbing social and racial violence against innocent citizens, most recently with the atrocious attacks in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado. I ask each of you to please remember the families of the 18 victims who were senselessly murdered in these evil assaults. May God comfort them and bring them peace.
I am grateful to General Bob Ferrell, Ann Marr and the leaders of our seven Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for leading the charge in WWT’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts. I am happy to report our WWT ABLE ERG has begun discussions with Variety The Children’s Charity on the possibility of working together to ensure Variety kids are prepared to enter the workforce when the time is appropriate.
In addition to the ERGs, we are happy to offer training on how to recognize unconscious bias through our Integrated Management Leadership (IML) courses. During the first quarter of this year, we welcomed celebrations honoring Black History Month, Women’s History Month and the Lunar New Year. We continue to support inmates released from prison, as well as their families, through our work with Concordance Academy of Leadership; and our partnership with Kingdom Capital and AstrumU uses a transformative platform for developing, attracting and retaining a highly competitive diverse talent pipeline.
We are also happy to offer Biblical Business Training to help people learn how to apply Biblical principles at work. As you may know — and as I have described in my two books, Doing Business by The Good Book and Leadership by The Good Book — we are called to bring honor to God in all that we do.
I want to share with you a quote I recently read in a BBC News article that I believe embodies the spirit of WWT: “We will not fight racism with racism. We will fight racism with (accountability and) unity.” Thank you for being part of the fight to end racism and prejudice in all its ugly forms!
As you may have become accustomed with these newsletters, I would like to share our board devotion. During our most recent March board meeting, our opening devotion focused on the power of spiritual strength. We have all been on a long journey over the past 12 months but remain prayerful the end of the pandemic is near.
When we are strengthened in our inner being, we have the character, love, courage and faith needed to finish the journey. As we begin to see light at the end of the tunnel, let us be encouraged to stay strong in spirit, vigilant in protecting ourselves and our loved ones and committed to carrying forward the lessons we have learned and remaining thankful for the blessings we have received.
As we move forward into 2021, WWT is incorporating a new brand proposition: Make a new world happen. It is our goal to make a positive impact for our employees, customers and communities in which we live and do business. We believe this new ethos is a reflection of our dedication to making a difference for everyone.
As I close, I want to share with you a few very special moments in the lives of the Steward family. I hope you and your family will enjoy each of them.
In celebration of my wife Thelma’s 70th birthday this past December, I wanted to give a healing gift to the community that also honors Thelma’s beautiful spirit and love for Christmas. “A New Holiday” reflects the Steward family’s dedication to people everywhere.
I am happy to share Noggin’s Rhymes Through Times, a three-episode short-form series incorporating a social and emotional curriculum that highlights the value of kindness, perseverance and fairness. The character development, animation and design for each episode (Hero, Why We Dance and My Best Song) was done by my son, Dave Steward II’s, company, Lion Forge Animation, LLC.
The True Adventures of Wolfboy, a coming of age tale about a boy searching for answers about his estranged mother and his unique condition that causes hair growth over his entire body, was produced by my daughter, Kimberly’s, company, K Period Media. This film focuses on diversity and inclusion as it reflects on the unconscious bias that exists within in our society and the unique value that every individual has to offer.
My family and I were greatly humbled and thankful when the University of Central Missouri (UCM) recently honored my late mother, Dr. Dorothy Elizabeth Steward, for her passion and appreciation of music by dedicating a music practice room where students can continue working toward their dreams and developing their performance skills.
Lastly, I was surprised this past month when the Boy Scouts of America bestowed upon me the Duty to God Award. Thelma presented the award to me in a virtual ceremony on March 29. I am so honored to receive this award and accept it on behalf of my late mother. When I was rejected by the local Boy Scout Troop because they did not accept persons of color, she changed my life and that of thousands of others by forming the first integrated Boy Scout troop in Clinton, Mo. I am even more humbled that this award was approved the day before my mother’s passing. My mother always told her children, “You may be the only Bible someone sees today.” She was my role model, and I try to carry her spirit of service to God forward every day.
My family and I are committed to faithfully honoring God in the platforms with which He has blessed us, whether through World Wide Technology, Kingdom Capital, my children’s companies or through our philanthropic efforts. To whom much is given much is required! To God be the glory!
Thank you for your continued dedication and support of World Wide Technology. May God continue to richly bless and protect you and your precious families!