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Tech Data's Rich Hume to be the Guest at the October Conversation with a CEO

By Keith Morelli

Rich Hume

TAMPA (August 8, 2019) -- After spending 30 years at IBM, Rich Hume did what few settled into a career do: He considered a change. So, in 2016, he made the leap from general manager and chief operating officer to executive vice president and COO at Tech Data, one of Florida’s largest publicly traded companies and one of the largest employers in the Tampa Bay area.

It wasn’t long after that, in June 2018, that he assumed the hotter-seat of CEO of the Clearwater-based company that boasts a hefty $37 billion in sales each year.

Was it his destiny? Perhaps. Hume says he became familiar with Tech Data while still employed by IBM and was impressed by the Tech Data’s culture and how they engaged with the industry.

Hume will be the guest of the Muma College of Business’ Conversation with a CEO, on Oct. 10, to talk about his career, Tech Data, his life and what lead to him assuming control of such a successful corporation. The 8:30-10 a.m. event will take place in the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning Simulation, 124 S. Franklin St., in downtown Tampa. To register for the event, click here.

Tech Data’s former CEO, Bob Dutkowsky, approached Hume while still at IBM and offered him the opportunity to lead the corporation, considered an industry juggernaut in technology distribution and solutions.

“I was hired in 2016 with the possibility of succeeding Bob Dutkowsky as CEO,” Hume said. Dutkowsky had been CEO for the previous dozen years and led the company through an unprecedented period of growth, specifically through the $2.6 billion acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions in 2017, which opened the Asia market to the company.

“For that to happen, though, I needed to demonstrate to Bob and the rest of the board of directors (through my performance) that I was the right person for the role. Bob was an excellent CEO, so I am currently working to fill those shoes.”

For Hume, the leap to Tech Data was a natural progression of a career that has been spent pretty much in executive positions.

At IBM, he had many roles. He spent time serving as general manager over the company’s operations in Europe, where he led IBM’s multi-brand European organization. He also was general manager of global business partners, directing the growth and overseeing development initiatives for IBM's Business Partner Channel. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State University.

Tech Data, established in 1974 and one of a few Tampa Bay Fortune 100 firms, distributes well-known technology brands, including Apple, IBM and Hewlett Packard. For the 13th consecutive year, the company has achieved a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index. It has been one of Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for nine years running.

“It’s a privilege to be able to work with and serve the 14,000-plus colleagues at Tech Data – a talent pool that is very deep,” Hume said. ”Our business generates sales of approximately $150 million each working day and that is made possible by our great partners and the awesome team of colleagues at the company.”

Since Tech Data’s focus is on technology, Hume has to keep an eye on ever-changing tech trends and how the markets respond to those trends. Reading the data correctly can lead to higher growth numbers. Miscalculations can turn into disaster.

“Technology is constantly changing,” he said. “In order for Tech Data to maintain the vital role we play in the IT eco-system, we need to make the right choices for the future. My biggest concern is the potential impact of a wrong choice, so we spend significant time focusing on strategy.”

One example of a risk was the release earlier this year of Tech Data’s “Cloud Solutions Factory,” a portfolio of cloud products released earlier this year as part of a plan to invest more in cloud, security, analytics and Internet of Things technology. The expanded catalog allows customers to have access to a new variety of fully vetted click-to-run solutions that address a multitude of business challenges.

The initiatives relieves the customer from having to examine in detail every new technological software advancement that is put on the market, saving money and adding to the bottom line to those companies. Customers review software solutions that fit their need and just click to purchase, set up and have a resource portal to have the technology imported to their systems. The deployments are monitored by Tech Data to ensure success.

It’s groundbreaking technology, Hume said, and that’s one of the rewards of leading such an innovative business.

“Tech Data’s management philosophy is ‘servant leadership,’ so we are very focused on helping our colleagues achieve their goals and aspirations,” he said. “The biggest reward for me is to see Tech Data colleagues succeed on both their personal and career journeys.”

But there are perils as well.

As CEO, Hume spends a lot of time at the job and that can take a toll on his personal life. Striking a balance is critical. Hiring the right people can relieve some of that stress.

“I learned many years ago that the answer to having a good work-life balance is having a top-tier team,” he said. “Our colleagues at Tech Data – starting with the CEO staff – are excellent, and we are very fortunate to have such a great leadership team.”

To reserve a seat for the Conversation with a CEO event featuring Hume, click here.