Meeting with Steve Raymund, President & CEO of Tech Data

I was sitting outside Steve’s office. Framed pages with him listed as one of the computer industry’s Top 20 executives filled the wall. So he was in good company as others were Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison. That was when it hit me, and I realized I was working for one of the titans in the industry.

Tech Data Canada had sent me to Tampa, the location of Tech Data’s headquarters, to observe things for a couple of days. The volume and size were much more significant than what we were dealing with in Canada.

During this trip, I toured around the various buildings on campus, meeting with each department to get a feel for how things worked. Of course, I spent the most time with Training, Tech Support, and Customer Service. These were the three areas I was responsible for at Tech Data Canada. But, I had to visit sales as well.

So at the time, salespeople worked in teams of four and sat side by side. Each group was next to two other teams – so rows of 12 people across. The sales floor had three columns of 12 people, and I can’t remember how many rows deep – just a sea of sales reps. The sales fax machines had ten or more people in line waiting. In other words, people stacked on top of one another.

Steve Raymund in front of a sales floor
Steve Raymund, in front of a sales floor.

But, right after I visited the sales department, I had a one on one with Steve. Yes, the worldwide President.

In comparison, Steve’s office was big enough to fit twelve or more sales reps. His office, in contrast, was sparsely decorated with a glass desk and a meeting table in it. So I walk in, say “Hi,” and sit down across from him. I present him with my one-page summary. I had worked on it for half a day, with help from the director of technical support. Steve doesn’t even look at it. Instead asks me, “So, how is Julia doing up there in Canada?”

Wow-what an opening question, as Julia Conn Watt was my boss and the President of Tech Data Canada at the time. Julia Conn Watt was a fantastic leader and a wonderful mentor. It is too bad she had to leave us so early!

Of course, I answered that she was doing great – because she was growing the business exponentially. The meeting went well. And I learned what it was like to report to the VERY top.

Gary Bernier
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