Chairman's Newsletter: December 2023
In this news
Greetings WWT family and friends,
I pray this edition of the Chairman's Newsletter finds you and your families well. For those in the United States, I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. It never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes by, and that feeling is never more prominent than when the holiday season once again rolls around.
This year has been one of the most extraordinary in WWT history! I am overwhelmed with thankfulness to God and to you, my WWT family. When WWT was founded, I envisioned a company that would be steadfast in adhering to our core values, grounded in faith, and compelled to be exceptional guardians of all that has been entrusted to us. I could not be more grateful to our incredible group of employees — now over 10,000 strong — and our management team for an exceptional year of financial performance.
As always, our hard work is positioning us to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities ahead — opportunities that allows us to create brighter futures for our employees and their families, the communities we serve and call home, and our customers and partners globally.
As you may be aware, we begin every board meeting with a devotion and prayer. With all the turmoil in the world today, this past board meeting we focused our thoughts on honoring God with prayer. I share with you here the prayer we offered. We have so many blessings for which to be thankful, but we also understand that the events unfolding all around us can at times cause us to be anxious or even fearful. I want to encourage you with these words offered from John 16:33 which we focused on in the prayer, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
The WWT Board of Directors works closely with our management team to provide thought leadership and ensure we execute our aggressive and thoughtful strategy in ways that leverages our strengths and targets opportunities in the rapidly changing marketplace. We are committed to capitalizing on opportunities in segments that are quickly evolving, and our services strategy is aligning to capture market share in these segments. We have incredible opportunities across all of our business lines.
Our strong presence in the AI marketplace, cybersecurity, cloud services and our significant base in the digital marketplace drive business in so many ways. Our ATC is an extraordinary and unique platform that can be leveraged in new and exciting ways. It is gratifying to me that our board meetings are focused on these strategic growth areas. Rest assured – we are poised to make the most of every opportunity!
We have received rave reviews from customers and partners alike for the tremendous experience created at the World Wide Technology Championship, hosted in early November in Los Cabos, Mexico. Such praise is a direct result of the long hours and hard work from the planning team.
Thank you to Sara Goellner, Cari Wilber, Kristin Casey, Sarah Waier and team for your spearheading efforts to make the championship an unforgettable and wonderfully successful event.
Core to the value of the WWT Championship is the two-day Business Innovation Summit, which attracts visionary leaders from our industry to shed light on important topics such as workplace culture, diversity and inclusion, cybersecurity, and AI. The insight captured during each of the panels was terrific, and I encourage each of you to watch the recordings when they become available.
I also want to extend my congratulations and condolences to Erik van Rooyen, the winner of this year's WWT Championship who dedicated his performance to his longtime friend and teammate, Jon Trasamar, who recently passed away at the young age of 33.
Van Rooyen, according to PGATOUR.com, learned of his friend's worsening condition just days before our tournament and remained in the field despite the news. Prior to the final round, van Rooyen said winning the tournament would "mean everything," and during the final round he shot a remarkable 8-under on the back nine, including a walk-off eagle to win the tournament. His back-nine 29 in the final round is only three strokes shy of a PGA record! Talk about an inspired and purpose-driven win!
Stories like these remind us that life is so much more than golf or business. It is about relationships and being there for each other.
That is why I am so pleased by our partnership with the Advocates Professional Golf Association, a tour dedicated to growing the number of golfers from diverse and historically underrepresented communities in the professional ranks. WWT serves as title sponsor of the APGA Player Development Bonus Program, which helps provide resources and equipment to help young, minority golfers continue chasing their dreams.
I had the great fortune to speak with several of the APGA pros earlier this year while they were playing in the Ascension Charity Classic in St. Louis. These young men — several of whom were featured in a recent video we produced — were inspiring for their commitment to pursue their passions and I wish them all the best moving forward.
As mentioned already, the hard work and dedication from all of you has helped spur tremendous growth for WWT over the years. It has also ushered in a wave of awards, which we do not necessarily seek but graciously accept with thankfulness.
I was honored to receive the Abe Venable Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the Closing the Equity Gap conference hosted by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and MBDA in October.
Both NMSDC and MBDA are organizations that work tirelessly to advance minority-owned businesses. WWT has benefited from this work and is also committed to grow minority entrepreneurship and business development to help drive economic equity. Thank you MBDA and Under Secretary Donald Cravins for the very special recognition and General Bob Ferrell for accepting the award on our behalf.
In the partner world, WWT was named Global Americas Partner of the Year, Global Collaboration Partner of the Year and Global Security Partner of the Year at this year's Cisco Partner Summit. On top of those incredible accolades, WWT was also recognized for 17 additional awards, all of which can be found here. Cisco is one of our oldest and most valued strategic partners, and the awards they have bestowed upon us illustrate the bond we share.
We are thankful and grateful for this tremendous recognition.
I am thrilled to see a group of eight distinguished WWT women honored during the 28th annual Women of Color STEM Conference, which helps women advance their education and excel in their STEM careers.
This year's WWT Women of Color STEM award winners include:
Technology All-Star Category:
- Kim Miller-Anderson, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Operations
- Sandi Tolliver, Director of Communications
Technology Rising-Star Category:
- Kristin Casey, Senior Marketing Director
- Krystin Hogan Pettaway, Software Quality Engineer
- Mia Hunt, Strategic Engagement Manager – Strategic Resourcing
- Rachel Gore, Army Global Enterprise Modernization Software and Services – Customer Success Executive
- Aparna Kumar, Managing Director of Public Sector Advisory Services
- Jyothsna Rajyam, Professional DevOps Engineer
The Women of Color STEM awards have recognized the contributions of women in STEM since 1995. This year's class of honorees is among the best!
As I share all the above recognition, I am reminded of the tremendous dedication of the WWT family. None of this would be possible without each of you, and I am humbled by and grateful for every individual.
With mixed emotions, I salute two people who have been instrumental in building WWT into the company it is today.
I have worked closely with Dicran "D" Arnold over the past 20 years. He has been a steadfast friend and companion along this road, and on Aug. 25, we were pleased to honor D as he officially retired from WWT.
D shares my passion and sense of deep responsibility to not only represent the voiceless but to open up pathways that give way to a thriving career and life and allow their gifts to be shared with the world.
As you recently heard, Ann Marr will be retiring at the end of this year. Ann has not only been a dedicated employee for 26 years, she has been my dear friend, leader and advisor.
From the humble beginning of WWT to the amazing success of our company now approaching revenue of $20 billion, Ann has walked alongside us on this journey. We have shared many late nights and laughs and some tremendous dinners. Ann is a world class chef whose delicious bread pudding cannot be matched!
Congratulations, D and Ann, and thank you and your families for the years of dedicated service and leadership to WWT! Godspeed in the next chapter of your lives.
And as we bid a fond farewell to these two incredible people, please also join me in congratulating General Bob Ferrell who will be stepping into the role of EVP, Human Resources and D&I. General Ferrell has been a member of the WWT family for several years and has extensive leadership experience, both in military and corporate service.
We are so blessed to have him assume this critical role within WWT. Congratulations, Bob!
WWT was honored to host the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Breakfast Celebration this past August. The event emcee, Mike Colombo from Fox 2 News, spoke with panelists who shared their stories of hope and experiences with the services offered by the American Cancer Society, including Hope Lodge.
The goal of the event is to ignite excitement for PINK fundraising season and breast cancer awareness that helps save lives.
United Way is a cornerstone of our community serving those in need. Over the past three decades I have been involved with supporting the United Way and had the opportunity to share my story at this year's United Way Kickoff. It was fun telling my story.
However, the partnership doesn't just center around me but all of you! I want to thank everyone that gave to the campaign this year. Your generous contributions create opportunities for our neighbors and communities to thrive and have elevated WWT to one of two top corporate donors.
I was especially honored to speak at the inaugural IMPACT program graduation. Did you know the acronym IMPACT stands for Inclusion, Mentorship, Partnership, Access, Capacity and Training?
WWT's Supplier Development program is a program that meets each supplier where they are and provides resources, training, and access to help them in their pursuit to achieve sustainable growth. Helping other small and diverse businesses achieve their goals and make a positive impact to the global community, just as countless customers and partners helped WWT along the way, is an important legacy I want to leave. Special thanks to WWT's supplier diversity team for turning a vision into reality.
I had the privilege of traveling to New Orleans to participate in the Inaugural Wells Fargo Black Business Leaders Summit attended by 150 of the top Black executives of Wells Fargo and their customers from across the U.S. in early November.
Jon Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Corporate & Investment Banking who also chairs Wells' Corporate & Investment Bank Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Council, was my host. Jon and I had an insightful fireside chat where we discussed how World Wide Technology came to be the tremendous company we know today.
The full recording of our conversation is not yet available, but I share with you here a summary snippet of the event.
Wells Fargo has committed $60 million to the Concordance First Chance campaign that I chair, our largest single contribution to help us reduce reincarceration rates in this country. Ann Marr, who hails from New Orleans, as well as D Arnold were with me for the event.
Thank you, Ann and D, and thank you to Wells Fargo for their life changing commitment!
We were very happy to support the 12th annual Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner hosted by the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts last month.
I want to thank Sara Goellner and her team for their thoughtful messaging and imagery in the ad supporting our sponsorship. It is a great reflection of our culture and engagement in the community.
This year, the Soaring Eagle Award was presented to Ann and Ray Wagner. This prestigious award is presented annually to community leaders who exemplify the Scout Oath and Law through their dedication, contributions, and passion for the community and Scouting, and this year's event made history as it marked the first time a politician was honored with the award.
Congratulations, Ann and Ray!
World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) hosted the seventh annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 INDYCAR Series race on Aug. 27. Driver Scott Dixon continued to set records with his 320th consecutive start and a 22 second margin of victory over his closest competitor. That victory shattered a 23-year-old track record of a 12 second margin of victory. Congratulations, Scott!
The NHRA Midwest Nationals once again rolled into WWTR the last weekend of September. There were lots of exciting, action-packed moments during the 12th annual race, with Clay Millican securing the win in Top Fuel competition and Matt Hagan taking the win in Funny Car competition.
NASCAR announced they will be returning to WWTR for the 2024 Enjoy Illinois 300. The date for the race is set for June 2 and we look forward to welcoming another exciting NASCAR Cup Series race in the Gateway Region. We are working to once again offer discounted tickets to WWT employees. Stay tuned for more information as the date draws closer.
WWTR is once again hosting WonderLights Christmas, a beautiful drive-thru holiday event that opened on Nov. 17 and runs through Dec. 31 nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. As this event is run by an outside vendor, we are unfortunately not able to provide our employees with discount tickets.
As we look to 2024, we will begin our fifth year of the prayer call ministry. Isn't that amazing!! What started as a response to a global pandemic continues as a platform to bring messages of hope, inspiration, and encouragement.
The prayer call team and my wife and I continue to be humbled and honored that we have been blessed with the tremendous opportunity to serve others and glorify God. Stay tuned as we continue to bring wonderful guest artists and speakers together for the bi-weekly calls hosted by me and my lovely wife. This call remains completely optional and is offered with respect for people of all faiths or no faith. Remember, if you miss a call or would like to review a message, all the calls are recorded and archived here.
One of our previous prayer call speakers, Dr. Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, invited me to a fireside chat with him which was attended by Wheaton students, faculty, and staff.
Unfortunately, COVID postponed this trip far too long, but I was honored to finally be able to accept this invitation in September. Often times when blessing others, we receive an even greater blessing ourselves, and this was the case at Wheaton. Thelma and I were absolutely blessed by meeting many wonderful people at Wheaton, including several student chaplains who prayed for us, complete with the laying on of hands. It was a very special time we will never forget.
Also, this past September Thelma and I had the distinct privilege and honor to be guest speakers during A Day of Stewardship event hosted by Bishop Marvin Winans of Perfecting Church in Detroit. It was so humbling to share the stage with Bishop Winans and his brother, Bebe, as they hosted us in a wonderful fireside chat. The day was made even more special by having my beautiful wife by my side to share the importance of our faith, the story of how WWT came to be, and even a few personal tidbits about our life.
It was a wonderful day of fellowship, with moments of laughter and lightheartedness, followed by the opportunity to answer a few questions from the audience where even my brother, Robert, participated in answers. The most important message of the day (and every day!) came from Joshua 24:15: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
I am very happy to share Biblical Business Training (BBT) is celebrating its 15th anniversary as a ministry that helps people apply Biblical principles at work through small group Bible studies. BBT is featured at the beginning and end of our WWT Prayer Calls. I am blessed to be a founding board member and vice chair of this global platform.
We have many BBT groups throughout WWT, and I encourage you to learn more at www.B-B-T.org/wwt.
September was a busy month for family matters!
On Sept. 9, we celebrated Thelma's 55th class reunion! It was a remarkable night with over 100 classmates in attendance from the school formerly known as Soldan High School (now Soldan International Studies High School). What a blessing to have so many friends gathered! It is hard to believe high school was that long ago. We are grateful and thankful for the many blessings God has bestowed upon us through the years.
As some of you may know, the very early days of building World Wide Technology were not always easy. At one of my lowest moments, I received a phone call that dramatically uplifted my perspective and encouraged me when I needed it most. My wonderful mother-in-love, Dorothy Willis, called to pray with me and encourage me with the words of Psalm 91.
She has been a constant in my life since meeting her beautiful daughter, and I will be forever grateful for her faithful support. On Sept. 27 my family and I were blessed to celebrate her 90th birthday! Praise God for all He has accomplished through this amazing faith-filled woman!
One of the great blessings Thelma and I have been given is to have a school in the Dominican Republic named after Thelma. The Thelma Steward Destiny Academy serves children with not only an education but the Word of God through the dedication of Rick and Isabella Pina. In addition to receiving a Christ-centered education, each student receives breakfast and a hot meal each day.
It is a great honor to support this work in serving "the least of these" by putting these beautiful children on the path to a successful future. Thank you, Rick and Isabella, for all you do on behalf of God's kingdom!
As 2023 comes to a close, I want to recognize and thank the outstanding efforts of a group of select individuals with whom I engage on a regular basis. I extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the:
- WWT Board of Directors: It is an honor and privilege to serve the WWT family alongside John Dyer, Priscilla Hill-Ardoin, Jim Kavanaugh, Rich McClure, Sandy Thompson and board advisor Brandon Mann. Your servant leadership and steadfast commitment will ensure WWT continues to thrive in the marketplace while holding fast to our core values.
- WWT Executive Leadership Team: Led by Jim Kavanaugh; Mark Donnel; Kraig Ecker; General Bob Ferrell; Tom Gain; Chester Gloyd; Sara Goellner; Jeree Hanavec; Matt Horner; Tim Loughman; Joe Koenig; Ann Marr; Bob Olwig; Steve Pelch; Erika Schenk; Tom Strunk; and Mike Taylor. These leaders and their extraordinary teams do a tremendous job of overseeing the day-to-day operations of WWT.
- WWT Prayer Team: As previously mentioned, Thelma and I are so grateful to personally host the bi-weekly prayer calls, but these calls are made possible through the exceptional efforts of Steven Bender, Craig Corbin, Brian Gagliano, Michelle Gagliano, Rick Pina, Jay Santiago and Michele Stallmann. When I speak of Eternal Return on Investment (EROI), this team comes to mind as storing up their treasures in heaven as they work to bring messages of faith, hope, encouragement and inspiration to thousands.
- Chairman's Newsletter Production Team: This newsletter would not be in existence without the gifts and talents of a core group of individuals who help bring my voice to life in this format. Brian Feldt, Juanita Logan, Michele Stallmann and Sandi Tolliver do an incredible job of gathering information and helping me communicate with my WWT family. Providing assistance to this core team are Tim Beecher, Rich McClure and Brandon Mann.
I would be remiss if I did not share how deeply concerned I am for the tragic situation in Israel.
Thelma and I pray every day for peace in the region and for our dear friend, Sagi Melamed and his family who live in the war-torn area, including two of his children now actively serving in the military.
As we pause to enjoy the 2023 holiday season, the entire Steward Family extends our heartfelt wishes to you and your families for a wonderfully blessed Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, or however you choose to celebrate this time of the year.
We are thankful and grateful for the blessing of YOU!
May God continue to richly and abundantly bless you and your precious families.
Let's make it another great year in 2024!