Chairman's Newsletter: March 2023
In this news
Greetings World Wide Technology family and friends,
Spring has sprung! I pray the beginning of 2023 has been a wonderful time for you and your families. It is hard to believe the first quarter is almost over!
Please join me in welcoming Steve Pelch to the WWT family!
Steve was announced as our new Chief Operating Officer (COO) in January after working for roughly a year as a strategic advisor to WWT, helping us focus on potential acquisitions and enhanced service offerings.
Steve brings a wealth of industry knowledge to the table having worked more than 30 years at Emerson Electric, and he is a strong culture fit as well with philanthropic work that includes Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis and Ronald McDonald House Charities. We are blessed to have Steve on our team and I am excited to see the impact he will have on our organization.
Our most recent World Wide Technology board meeting was held March 8. As we always do, we opened with our board devotion and prayer, which focused on 1 Thessalonians 5:11:
Encouragement is such an integral part of leadership and helping others reach their full potential.
I hope you will enjoy reading the devotion, and allow it to inspire within you the different ways you can encourage those in your professional and personal lives. Take a moment — right now, even — to look around and see who you can encourage today! It may take just a moment of your time, but could make a world of difference to the person on the receiving end.
Thoughtful strategic planning is so important for the long-term viability of any organization, and World Wide Technology is no different. I am deeply grateful to our board and executive leadership team for their recent and ongoing hard work and dedication to this process. Our thoughtful strategic planning process ensures the near- and long-term success of World Wide Technology.
The WWT board and management team continues to provide unparalleled strategic leadership and guidance for our organization. We are in experienced and capable hands!
February and March were Black History Month and Women's History Month, respectively, and I want to highlight some of the great things our Employee Resource Groups did to help make both months ones of lasting impact.
SHADES, WWT's African American ERG, hosted a conversation with Jordan Brand Chairman Larry Miller and Urban Youth Racing School Director of Operations Michelle Martin. The two chatted about Miller's remarkable story of resilience, and reinvention, and how Miller's rise from the streets to the boardroom reinforces the importance of second chances and removing the stigma behind incarceration. Larry is not only a valued friend, but he is also a tremendous contributor and supporter of Concordance Academy.
As you may recall, I have had the privilege of leading Concordance's First Chance Campaign. Larry is one of over a hundred co-chairs who recognizes the importance of the Concordance mission to positively impact millions of lives by addressing the holistic needs of the formerly incarcerated as they re-enter everyday society.
With Larry's help we have reduced recidivism rates for program participants by 56 percent and surpassed the goal of raising $100 million to expand the Concordance model across the United States. We are now headed toward the newly revised $200 million campaign goal. All praise and glory to God for the incredible things He is accomplishing through Concordance and people like Larry Miller.
LEAD, WWT's Women's ERG, celebrated International Women's Day with special guest speaker Dr. Adrienne Partridge, an Executive Leadership and Career Coach who has worked with small businesses and startups to Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Partridge spoke about how to squash our inner people pleaser and her approach to leadership and career development.
I was blessed to sit down with Amazon Director (Central AWS Sales) Ernest Jones on February 21 for a virtual fireside chat attended by WWT SHADES members along with Amazon's diverse leadership and employees around the globe. We discussed themes of social responsibility, workforce development and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Ernest posed thought-provoking questions around my vision for founding a technology business over 30 years ago. We also spoke of my more recent initiatives, including the Concordance First Chance Campaign and the Steward family's relationships with the Wendell Scott Foundation and NASCAR.
The common thread is that we tend to lean in where persons of color are conspicuously absent. Bringing a diverse perspective has the power to create incredible, transformative downstream opportunities for everyone. The conversation with Ernest was so inspiring, and we both received great feedback from our respective teams. I am grateful for the meaningful and purpose-filled conversation with Ernest and the Amazon team.
I would also like to highlight an article from 2020 written by WWT's Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources Ann Marr. In the article, she stresses the importance of creating a diverse workforce and workplace. Ann also recently helped celebrate International Women's Day by participating in a panel discussion with Cisco Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy and Purpose Officer Francine Katsoudas, in which they discussed the important role culture plays in attracting and retaining talent. Be sure to check out the on-demand discussion (be sure to click watch now button) hosted by WWT's own Rick Pina.
Increasingly, our customers are asking us about sustainability in the technology landscape, and I am excited about the work we are doing to help those organizations become a more environmentally sustainable business.
I am equally, if not more so, excited about the progress we are making internally at WWT. In fact, WWT was recently recognized by Schneider Electric for our sustainability leadership in its first-ever Sustainability Impact Awards.
As our very own Bob Olwig said, "This award reinforces our shared vision and builds on our partnership of pursuing a sustainable future at the intersection of technology and energy."
St. Louis sports fans are among the best and most loyal in the world, and we now have another reason to stand up and cheer. On March 4, we welcomed our newest (and currently undefeated!) professional sports franchise, St. Louis CITY SC, for the team's inaugural home match in CITYPARK.
World Wide Technology is proud to be a founding partner and official technology partner of this exciting new soccer team. If you find yourself attending a game or passing nearby the stadium, I encourage you to check out Gate D. Aside from it being the official World Wide Technology Gate, it is also adjacent to the "Pillars of the Valley" permanent art installation along the Brickline Greenway. Pillars of the Valley honors St. Louis' historic Black neighborhood Mill Creek Valley. WWT is also excited to sponsor the CITY Cup as part of CITYSC's City Futures platform, which introduces the game of soccer to more St. Louis area residents.
Thank you to Jim Kavanaugh and the Taylor family for being an integral part of the effort to bring Major League Soccer to our city. And speaking of history making women, St. Louis City SC is the only major league soccer team that is majority female owned. You can read more about St. Louis CITY SC and CITYPARK here.
Speaking of great sports, it's Cup time again! NASCAR's 75th anniversary season officially started in early February. I was pleased to once again host a kickoff reception on February 24 for this year's NASCAR Cup Enjoy Illinois 300 race and Confluence Music Festival. With my friend and partner Curtis Francois, we welcomed guests from some of the top companies in our region. We were privileged to have The King, racing legend Richard Petty, along with Warrick and Frank Scott from the Wendell Scott Foundation, Jackie Joiner-Kersee, and emcee extraordinaire Michael McMillan, President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, join us for a great evening.
Excitement is growing as plans are well underway to welcome back to WWT Raceway the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota 200 on June 3, and the second annual Enjoy Illinois 300 NASCAR Cup Series Race on June 4. We look forward to bringing back outstanding programs like STEM Lane, where kids and families experience fun, hands-on STEM related activities and exhibits. It is such a tremendous privilege to utilize this platform inspiring young minds to the exciting possibilities available through a career in the STEM world.
New to race weekend this year will be the JJK 5K race, with winners being presented their medals by none other than Jackie Joiner-Kersee. In addition to hosting this first-time race, Jackie will be Grand Marshall for this year's Enjoy Illinois 300. You can register for the JJK 5K here.
We are equally excited for the Confluence Music Festival to return in conjunction with the NASCAR races. This year we will welcome Dierks Bentley as the headliner and a host of other talented musicians. We are pleased to offer discounts to WWT employees for either the truck race or a two-day race ticket. Tickets to the Confluence Music Festival are included in the purchase of your race ticket.
Indeed, the Gateway Region is well known for its love of music. Whether it's jazz, rock, blues, hip-hop or any other genre, we love our music! World Wide Technology and the Steward Family have been blessed to partner with Opera Theatre St. Louis for many years, and together we are working with many talented young artists through the Thelma Steward Endowed Artist program launched in 2014 to support the careers of promising young artists of color.
A few of these gifted singers have joined us on the WWT Family & Friends prayer calls where we have heard their amazing God-given talent bless us with beautiful songs. You can check out the previously recorded prayer calls here. We have seen great careers blossom as many of these extraordinary young men and women have performed with institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington National Opera, the Royal Opera House and the Kennedy Center, to name a few. Several have gone on to release their own solo albums.
It is a tremendous privilege to support these wonderful artists and the work of OTSL. We look forward to what the future holds for this special partnership.
On March 10 this year, my dear mother, Dorothy, would have turned 95. My family and I were presented with an incredible gift to celebrate this milestone in a very big way when Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, a Historically Black College or University unveiled a beautiful art gallery bearing the name of our family matriarch, the Dorothy E. Steward Art Gallery.
I was incredibly blessed to have all of my siblings and their families, Governor and First Lady Parson, Lieutenant Governor and Second Lady Kehoe, Secretary of State Ashcroft, and many other friends and Lincoln alumni present for this auspicious occasion. As you may recall, in 2019, Lincoln University awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters to my mother in recognition of her lifelong accomplishments and love for education and service.
The unveiling was an event none of us will ever forget! Scripture tells us, "Give honor where honor is due." My mother was an amazing inspiration not only to her children but to so many in her community! I can say without hesitation she would be overwhelmed and humbled. I can see her smiling now but acknowledging, "All praise and glory belongs to Jesus!"
Before I conclude this edition of the Chairman's Newsletter, I wanted to pay special recognition to my friend and colleague Tom van Horn, who is set to retire after 28 years of service to WWT.
I am blessed to have established many special friendships at WWT over the many years. Tom is right up there on that list. He was instrumental to the growth of our business and culture, and he pioneered our client expansion into the technology and telecommunications industry.
I will be forever grateful for Tom's leadership, commitment, and impact to WWT through his many years of service! Congratulations Tom and God bless your next season in retirement!
As I close this edition of the Chairman's Newsletter, I want to wish each of you a very blessed spring holiday season. Whether you celebrate Easter, Passover, Ramadan or any other springtime holiday, I pray you and your family may enjoy God's abundant blessings.
May God continue to richly bless you and your precious families!