In 1990, Dave Steward was looking for a new adventure.
Some may have been nervous or scared to start something new, but Steward wasn’t. He had already made a name for himself by developing a system to make the auditing process quicker for railroads, and he wanted to continue using technology in new and innovative ways.
That year, he founded World Wide Technology (WWT), a small product reseller that he has grown into an $11.2 billion global technology solution provider and leader in the industry.
From the beginning, Steward focused on fostering a welcoming culture where employees are motivated and engaged in the community. It’s Steward’s way of giving back in gratitude for the mentors who helped him along the way, and it’s paid off: The company recently landed a spot on Great Place to Work’s 2018 list of 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity.
We sat down with Steward to get his thoughts on what inspires him, his passion for philanthropy and advice for those starting their careers.
What parts of your upbringing inspired you to start your own company?
“Growing up, I saw my parents struggle every day to provide for us. The first mentor I really had was my dad, doing everything he possibly could to support his children. He created his own opportunities instead of being concerned about whether someone was going to hire him or not.
Every day I ask myself: ‘Am I living my life worthy of the sacrifices they made on my behalf to be in the position I am today?’”
You talk about your dad as your first mentor. How do you carry on that legacy of mentoring in your work?
“There is a whole host of businesses and companies that we, World Wide Technology, have had an opportunity to mentor through our work with them. In 2017, we spent $400 million with other minority, women-owned, veteran-owned, disabled veteran and small businesses, encouraging, guiding and helping them along the way. That is how we do business and develop our next generation.
Our company also spends a lot of time on developing the next generation of talent, specifically in science, technology, engineering and math. We have 136 interns from various universities across the county and the globe. We are investing time in them to develop their own talents within our organization.”
If someone from your internship program at World Wide Technology came to you and asked for advice on their career and how to get involved in the community, what advice would you give them?
“Their heart will call them to do what they need to do.
For me, it was the Boy Scouts. Being a Scout helped me develop the level of importance and core values that I live by: how I make decisions, how I lead, how I work with customers. And so, there is a tremendous amount of emphasis and investment I make in training and developing the next generation of leaders through Boy Scouts.”
What are some of your other passions in life?
“United Way is another passion of mine. United Way covers more than 160 agencies that I am passionate about, whether it is Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls Inc., Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts … there is a wide range of interests I have in helping support families and children. United Way ensures these dollars I am investing are vetted and the people who need them get those resources. They deliver like no other organization.”
What kind of community are you trying to create through the work you do at World Wide Technology and in giving back?
“I think that the community we are trying to create is a better one for the generation behind us and the generation behind them. I am honoring the people before me who put me in the best position I can be – the position I am in today.
I believe, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ I think what is required of me is to ensure that the next generation and the generation behind them has a better quality of life, that they are standing on my shoulders and are getting the best that I have, so they can do even better. I must be an example for them to look to as they are guiding and living their lives.
I would be honoring my parents and the ones who went before me by the way that I live my life today. I am passionate about how we serve this community to make it even better. I am prepared to make whatever time is necessary to do that.”
One last question: What is your proudest achievement?
“My family, my faith and the well-being of my children and grandchildren. These things are most important to me and what I consider to be my greatest achievements.
I am also deeply honored to have served the many people we have helped along the way. We employ thousands of people, and that ripple effect in the community is immeasurable. Millions of lives have been impacted in a meaningful way as a result of the investments we make in the community.”
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