Lessons From a Tech Titan: Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of WWT
World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh talks with Authority Magazine about his approach to leadership and culture at WWT.
Posted by Authority Magazine on November 1, 2018:
I had the pleasure to interview Jim Kavanaugh. Jim is the co-founder and CEO of World Wide Technology. Kavanaugh and his proven management team have guided WWT from a small start-up technology company nearly 30 years ago into a world-class, $10 billion organization. He currently focuses his time in the areas of technology innovation, long-term planning, strategic acquisitions, financial performance, employee development, and passionately overseeing WWT’s unique corporate culture. Prior to founding WWT, Kavanaugh worked at Future Electronics and played professional soccer. He received his Bachelor of Science in business administration from Saint Louis University (SLU) in 1986.
Fotis: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was raised in St. Louis, in a working-class family. My father was a bricklayer, and I likely would have followed the same path, had I not been lucky enough to excel on the soccer field. In high school, my team won a state soccer title and that provided me with the opportunity to attend Saint Louis University for college on a soccer scholarship. After college, I had the continued fortune to travel the world playing in the Pan Am Games, and then later as a member of the 1984 Olympic team.
Playing soccer gave me the opportunity to explore the world and experience other cultures, something I wouldn’t have been able to do without the sport. Traveling and playing on these teams had a profound experience on my life, and still influences the culture we look to create at WWT today.
Fotis: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
One of my favorite and funniest stories at WWT actually happened a little more than 20 years ago, when we were a nimble start-up with all hands on deck. It was a Sunday morning, and Joe Koenig, now president of WWT, and I needed to deliver some PCs to customers in Omaha, NE. Even though neither one of us had driven a moving truck before, we packed up a U-Haul here in St. Louis and were on our way for the more than six-hour drive.