The View From Here – Gord Mawhinney, CEO
July 1, 2013
I Made One Phone Call
Welcome to my inaugural blog post. I will do my best to keep it short and interesting, the former being significantly easier than the latter. As our head count steadily climbs past 1000, it becomes harder to have the kind of personal relationship with each employee I would like. My hope is this blog will help to bridge the gap, giving you a window into my thoughts, and hopefully an insight or two as we move through this experience together. With that said, I’d like to share a little bit about the journey that brought me to this place.
I believe my career over the past two decades has been preparing me for the type of role I am about to assume. Not that I’ve always been able to articulate it, but throughout my career and before I had one, leadership has been a passion of mine. At age 9 and much to my mother’s chagrin, I was the ringleader of a group of kids that was constantly in trouble. Not sure what the statute of limitations is there, so I’ll keep hush about the specifics. You’ll be pleased to hear I reformed shortly thereafter, but my passion for the power of teamwork remained intact. I was an ardent participator in student government. At 22 I was given HR leadership responsibility for more than 1000 people. From there I went to IBM and from there I became an entrepreneur. I was the international president of the Entrepreneurs Organization(EO). I then sold my business to Bell Canada, and immediately thereafter went to work for them in an executive capacity. You may find this surprising, but at that time, with the sale of my business right on my heels, I still felt like the most important work of my career was in front of me, not behind. When it came time to choose where I’d go next I did not do any research, I didn’t take a single lunch, and I didn’t so much as shake hands with a recruiter. I made one phone call. That call was to Don Bialik.
I had gotten to know Don years prior at IBM and then in EO and finally at Bell when I attempted to acquire Long View on behalf of Bell Canada. Of course he turned us down. But what he gave me turned out to be far more valuable. He showed me that a company could achieve marked business success while still maintaining a strong sense of humanity. Don was an individual whose ideals I admired, and whose values were very much in line with my own. In that meeting I knew Long View was a place where I could thrive without ever having to compromise who I am. I came to work for Don and a few years later, well, I guess you could say the rest is history. I am deeply grateful to Don for giving me this opportunity and for creating a company I am truly proud to be a part of.
As my first blog post comes to an end, I’m reminded of a quote that a friend shared with me a while back. Darwin Smith was the CEO of Kimberley Clarke for close to twenty years. In that time, the company became exponentially more profitable and saw returns far beyond what the market would’ve predicted. When asked what the key to his success was, Smith said “I never stopped trying to be qualified for the job.” That is the sentiment I bare in mind as I embark on this journey. I have been given an immense opportunity, in return I give you my word I won’t ever stop trying to be qualified for it.