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Chairman's Newsletter: February 2020

Following each board meeting, WWT Chairman Dave Steward shares his thoughts on the business and what is inspiring him.

March 2, 2020 9 minute read
David Steward
David Steward

Dear WWT Family and Friends,

I trust 2020 is off to a great start for each and every one of you! It certainly is here for WWT! Congratulations and a big heartfelt thank you to the entire Oracle team for going live with Release 1 of the Oracle Cloud Solution!  I am grateful for the countless hours the team put into preparing for this important undertaking. I’m confident this will be a significant step forward to simplify, standardize, automate and scale WWT! 

Great job, team! You are a tremendous blessing to all of us!

As we enter into our 30th anniversary year, I am excited about the tremendous opportunities we have in front of us. 

Since launching the newsletter last year, I have very much enjoyed using this platform as a way to share personal messages on what is inspiring me; stories about how WWT is making a positive impact on people and the communities in which we live, work and play; answering questions about what is on my mind; while at the same time providing some level of insight into the activity of the WWT Board. 

Let’s kick the first newsletter of the new year off by recognizing Black History Month, which is celebrated annually in February. 

Black History Month Exhibit
WWT employees at the North American Integration Center learn more about African American leaders at WWT's traveling Black History Month exhibit.

As I reflect on the men and women of color who have come before me, I have often felt as if I have been standing on the shoulders of giants. And with that comes great responsibilityafter all, "to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). Ann Marr’s recent Black History Month article conveyed a similar message on the importance of recognizing and celebrating the contributions African American leaders and innovators have made — and continue to make — not just to WWT, but to the entire world. Take a moment to read Ann’s words — the article is a must read!

A key theme in Ann’s article is the power of association. One cannot understate the impact a person of influence has on a young boy or girl who walks, talks or looks like them. As some of you may know, I am part of the ownership group of the St. Louis Blues and could not be prouder that they delivered the team’s first Stanley Cup to Blues fans across the world. Following this celebration, I sat down with the NHL to talk about diversity within the sport.

Whether you are a Blues fan or not, I hope this video resonates with you and gets you thinking about how we can make WWT a more diverse and inclusive workplace for all to thrive. 

BEYA Award Winners
WWT's five BEYA Modern-Day Technology honorees (left to right): John Crawford, Arshad Jones, Vaneisha Perkins, Eugene Harris and Benny Henderson.

In the spirit of recognizing African American leaders past and present, I must give a round of applause to WWT’s five Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) Modern-Day Technology honorees. The BEYA award recognizes an individual’s commitment to shaping the future of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). WWT has been a longstanding supporter of the important work BEYA is doing to grow and develop the next generation of diverse STEM talent. We are incredibly proud of our honorees; if you see them around the office, be sure to congratulate them!

David Steward II and wife Mary
David Steward II and his wife Mary with the Oscar statue.

Some more exciting news — this time from within my own family — that stays with our theme of celebrating African American leaders. As many of you may be aware, my daughter Kimberly’s production company, KPeriodMedia, produced the Academy Award-winning “Manchester By The Sea” in 2017. I am now excited to share that my son Dave II is also an Academy Award winner! His animation company, Lion Forge Animation, produced “Hair Love"— a touching story of an African American dad learning to fix his little girl’s hair. The film won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film! Yes, I am a very proud dad. I am thankful to have a WWT family that allows me to share this exciting news. 

I mentioned how excited I am for the tremendous opportunities we have in front of us. In order to seize these opportunities, in the words of the late great legend Kobe Bryant, we must practice, practice, practice! 

Preparation is essential to our ability to take on challenges and opportunities while achieving the best outcomes. Our CEO Jim Kavanaugh and the entire executive leadership team, as well as key guests at WWT’s recent Leadership Conference, drove that message home to more than 1,300 WWT leaders and managers. I want to thank Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, and Amy Chang, Cisco’s executive vice president and general manager of collaboration, for discussing the importance of creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, which is a top priority for me and, I hope, for all of us.

Please take a moment to watch snippets of their keynotes, in which Michael Bush discusses how hard it is to be a Great Place to Work and Amy Chang talks about the importance of diversity and inclusion.

While on the subject of Great Place to Work (GPTW), a big congratulations goes to Jim Kavanaugh for recently being named a top CEO of GPTW, and Jeree Hanavec for receiving the GPTW Leadership Award for her significant contributions to our organization’s business culture success. And last, but not least, a special thanks to each of you for making WWT a GPTW for the ninth year in a row! A truly remarkable feat for which I wish I could thank all of you in person. 

Let’s talk global! In January, the European Integration Center staff in Amsterdam focused all month on the health of our employees with a new Medical Check Up program. An amazing 84 percent of employees participated in this preventive health program, which used biometrics to monitor blood sugar, BMI, cholesterol, eyesight and more. Feedback received has been excellent, and raising awareness is always the first step to a healthy lifestyle! 

Speaking of global health, the Coronavirus is top of mind for many, including WWT’s leadership team. We have put in place measures to safeguard our employees and to minimize disruption to the business. We must continue to stay vigilant and take preventive measures. If you haven’t already, please read Ann Marr’s message to all employees on precautions to keep our workforce healthy and safe.

I pray each and every one of our employees and their families stay healthy, especially those in China and other locations hit the hardest.

WWT Board Member Rich McClure

As you may have become accustomed to, I’m happy to once again highlight a member of our WWT board. In this edition, we feature Rich McClure, an incredibly passionate leader whose career has traversed the public policy, corporate and philanthropic worlds. I hope you enjoy reading this interesting Q&A with Rich. And don't forget about our previous Q&As with board members John Dyer, Priscilla Hill-Ardoin and Sandy Thompson

As always, I am pleased to share with you the February board meeting devotion, which focuses on humility — one of WWT’s most important core values. To read the entire devotion and opening prayer, please click here.

Following along the lines of humility, I would like to share a touching moment that I recently experienced. 

As we go about our day-to-day work routines, we can forget that everyone has an impact on our world. This past January, upon returning home from a trip to visit my soon to be 92-year-old mother, who is facing some very serious health issues, I was reminded how WWT plays a significant role in the lives of many people we will never have the opportunity to meet.

John Caruso
Former Army Guard Specialist John Caruso. 

As I stepped off the plane, my mood was rather somber, as the news about my mom was not good.  I was eagerly greeted by a young man who informed me he was there specifically to meet me. I was puzzled, but the young man, a former Army Guard Specialist with the 1137th MP Company named John Caruso, continued to relay his story.  

While deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011-12, John credits the tracking and communications systems he and his unit utilized to saving many lives. This equipment was supplied by WWT, and he was there to thank me personally! What an inspiring moment that had a profound impact on me and lifted my spirit! It is so wonderful how God puts people in the right place at the right time to minister to us!

When John finished his story, he handed me an American flag patch he had taken off the uniform he wore during his deployment, took a step back and saluted me! 

American flag patch
Photo of American flag patch given by John Caruso.

I was so honored to be a part of a company that helps protect the lives of America’s service men and women. I was incredibly humbled to receive this patch worn in combat, as well as the salute from this brave servant. It is a moment I will never forget!  

I thanked John and told him, “I should be saluting you! All of the opportunities we have as Americans would not be possible without the men, like you, and women who have fought for our precious freedom!”

We are working to get the patch in a display case for my office, and you are welcome to stop in (Building 58 at our Tech Campus) at any time to see this amazing memento. 

I share this story because I want each of you to know that your work here at WWT is ministering to so many in ways we do not even realize. Thank you for your continued faith, dedication and commitment to the work we do. You are changing (and saving) lives!

God bless, 

Dave

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