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Place of birth: Glasgow, Scotland
Lives in: Columbus
Title: President, United Way of Bartholomew County
Duties: Assess needs of community and direct human services resources to those needs.
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Also Parkside Elementary, North Middle School and North High School.
Family: Wife Amy; Jake, 17; Kate, 13; Bryn, 6; Pete, 2.
Hobbies: Girls soccer coach for North junior varsity, white-water rafting
How did you come to live in Columbus?
My dad came over here with Cummins when I was 2. We were going to stay two years, but 40 years later my parents still live at the same address.
What was your first job?
I worked at United Technologies in Edinburgh in college during summers. I made plastic car parts.
What main lesson did you learn from that job?
I developed a strong work ethic and persistence at that job, but more than that, I learned to be friendly to everyone you meet. A smile goes a long way. It’s cheesy, but it’s true.
What do you like best about your job?
I like helping to make our community better. I truly love that. This is my home, and every day I get to help it be the best it can be.
What are some of the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned?
Having a genuine passion for what you are leading in is probably the most important thing. Beyond that, in my position, it’s about listening to what’s important from a community perspective and making that my foundation for leadership. It’s not about what Mark Stewart thinks is best. It’s about Mark Stewart listening to as many people as possible and synthesizing that into a plan. It’s important to respect the opinions of everybody, no matter their background.
What primary managerial challenges are you facing today?
We support 26 not-for-profits through United Way, but it isn’t always just about distributing funds responsibly. We need to assess their other needs, as well, and provide support wherever we can. The question is: ‘How do we help you achieve your mission?’
What’s the No. 1 thing you expect from your employees?
Passion toward our cause is crucial, and so is treating everyone with respect. This is truly a people-based and relationship-based business.
What do your employees absolutely have to avoid?
How would you describe your leadership style?
Overall, I try to give people a lot of latitude to achieve their goals within the context of the organization. I once heard a quote: “A lot of successful management is staying out of the way.” I want to hire smart people and be there to support them but stay out of their way. Sometimes you lead from the front of the pack, other times from the middle of the pack and sometimes from the back of the pack. One of my No. 1 jobs is serving the staff.
What advice do you have for people who are just now entering the workforce?
Do what you love, and do it better than anyone else.
What’s your favorite question to ask in an interview?
Tell me about yourself. In order to be successful, people need to be grounded in who they are. The inherent personality traits that a person has are a great indicator of their performance. It’s about relating to people.
What’s your favorite city to visit and why?
I love New Orleans. It’s got an incredible feeling of vibrancy. The city is just alive. It’s a truly unique American city, based on a combination of its history and the interesting people who call it home. They’re good story-tellers.
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