David L. Steward is chairman of World Wide Technology (WWT), a St. Louis-based company he co-founded in 1990 on a shoestring budget with a handful of employees. Today, the company is an award-winning technology integrator with more than $9 billion in annual revenue. Steward received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the university on May 19, 2017.
Over the past two decades, Mr. Steward and his executive team have built what started as a small logistics and transportation audit company into a leading systems integrator and supply chain solutions provider with more than 4,000 employees worldwide.
WWT serves the technology needs of large public and private organizations around the globe, including many of the world’s best-known brands.
As chairman of the country’s largest African-American owned company, Mr. Steward plays a key role in pursuing major contracts for WWT as well as building and nurturing its culture and core values.
At the heart of that culture is the Golden Rule. When it comes to his employees and customers, Mr. Steward has said: “I treat people as I would want myself and my family to be treated.”
In a book he co-authored in 2004, Mr. Steward explains how using lessons from the Bible as a source of inspiration and guidance can help one succeed in business and in life.
The book, “Doing Business by the Good Book: Fifty-two Lessons on Success, Straight From the Bible,” includes a foreword by President George H. W. Bush.
President Bush wrote of Mr. Steward: “He believes individual values should not be separated from corporate values, and he adheres to the philosophy that good ethics is good business. He contends that the same qualities of integrity, trust, commitment, and loyalty that we expect from our friends and family are also appropriate in the workplace.”
It’s no wonder that for the sixth consecutive year, WWT made Fortune’s 2017 “100 Best Companies to Work For” list as well as the publication’s 2017 “10 Best Large Workplaces in Tech” list. It also places fifth on the 2017 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards in the “Best Places to Work” category.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, his parents wanted to raise their children in a small town and they moved to Clinton, Missouri, his mother’s hometown. His father, a mechanic and farmer, and his mother, a homemaker, instilled in him and his seven siblings a strong work ethic and a spirit of giving, despite not having much themselves.
Mr. Steward earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1973 from Central Missouri State University.
After graduating, he hitchhiked to St. Louis with all his possessions in a knapsack, moved in with a sister and worked part time as a substitute teacher until he landed a full-time position as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America.
He went on to sales and marketing positions with Wagner Electric Corporation, Missouri Pacific Railroad Company and Federal Express, where he was recognized as salesman of the year and inducted into the company’s sales hall of fame.
Mr. Steward eventually became interested in owning his own company and made a bold decision to venture out on his own.
An outstanding civic and philanthropic leader, Mr. Steward served as the 2005 campaign chairman for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and chairman of its board of directors from 2006 to 2008. A Life Scout, Mr. Steward has served in various leadership roles with the Boy Scouts of America, including president of the Greater St. Louis Area Council.
Among his many awards and honors, Mr. Steward received both the Horatio Alger Award and St. Louis’ Citizen of the Year Award in 2014, Variety The Children’s Charity Humanitarian Award in 2013 and the National Urban League’s 2008 Business Pioneer Award.
He and Thelma, his wife of 40 years, received the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award in 2008. Washington University annually hosts the Harris Awards ceremony that recognizes a husband-and-wife team for their exemplary dedication to advancing the educational, cultural and civic institutions in the region.
The Stewards live in St. Louis and have a son, David, daughter-in-law, Mary, and a daughter, Kimberly, and grandsons David “Trey” Steward III and Julian Karl David Steward.