Born: Richmond, Va.
Education: Bachelor of arts degree, political science, University of North Carolina Charlotte; master’s degree, health administration, Duke University
What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?
To capture the essence of integrity. There is absolutely no replacement or artificial substitute for integrity. I think that’s especially important today because people really are able to ferret out the disconnects regarding authenticity. People know when leaders aren’t authentic.
Integrity becomes really important in leadership because of the instant messaging phenomenon. When you type something on a keyboard, that keyboard is wired to the rest of the world. There are some very unfortunate examples of leaders who mis-stepped because of a public statement they made that was broadcast to the world in minutes. So there is an absolute, unquestionable responsibility regarding integrity.
What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?
Again, it distills down to authenticity, along with courage, an ability to tell the truth and good communication.
What is one universal truth you’ve learned about leading a business?
People matter in a very big way. As an executive, your responsibility is to basically become a servant leader. In that position, you acknowledge your responsibility to promote a safe and healthy environment for your people. In the end, your business is not about products or commodities but people.
What is your definition of success?
It’s more of a philosophical definition than a business definition. What I’m striving to accomplish is forming a strong sense of spiritual awareness for others, along with a knowledge of self and personal wellness. I want to maintain both a personal and professional outlook on being a servant leader.