VOSS Sharon now works for me directly and she doesn’t make it
easy at times. She pushes the organization sometimes into uncomfortable areas for a very conservative company. That’s what we
need. That’s one of the contributors to making us successful in
We’re looking for those leaders who are pushing us to say good
enough isn’t going to do it. We’ve got to get to excellence in our
operations, excellence in our culture.
We’re just getting started. We have a long way to go. The ultimate
is that maybe we won’t need a diversity manager someday, that it’s
just so much into our culture that it’s our way of doing business.
VISCONTI Do you see it being integral to your ability to innovate?
VOSS Absolutely. You want people to feel free to express themselves,
that it’s safe to throw out ideas. We’ve pretty much hit a culture
where you’ve got to be 100 percent sure this is going to work before
you said anything about it. That just stifles creativity, innovation and
VISCONTI You grew up in that culture and you evolved it. What
inspired you to do that?
VOSS I just didn’t see it working long term. The world changed. It’s
so much more about communications. You could not operate the
way we were. We had to turn around a fundamental culture, and that
takes a while. Some of our past performance leveled off and could
have started going into decline if we hadn’t turned it around.
Getting Ahead With
VISCONTI When you see the future of your diversity efforts applied
to the footprint of your generational community customers, is there
something that you intend to help lead the region?
VOSS I’d like to see us put some more emphasis on talent development—getting higher graduation rates out of high schools and colleges. That’ll bring in employment because people know we have a
highly educated workforce that’s ready to go.
The whole idea of supplier diversity, innovative minority-owned
businesses and nurturing them along, helping them out—I think that
only makes the whole area prosper more.
I live here. I want to make this a better place for everyone.
Diversity efforts are going to be key.
VISCONTI You have an interesting succession plan: You know who’s
going to be the next CEO.
VOSS If you look at our company history, I don’t think we’ve done
succession planning very well. We’ve done “If somebody gets hit by
a bus, who’s going to fill that spot?” That’s not what you want to do.
“I live here.
I want to
make this a
going to be key.”
What you want is leadership develop-
ment, a plan where you look at the leaders
of your company, figure out who key people
are and start investing in them through spe-
cial or rotational assignments. We didn’t do
that before. Each group kind of had its own
leaders who kind of kept them to them-
selves. Now we’re sharing them. We’re sit-
ting down every year and looking at all of
our talent, saying, “We can put them any-
where in this company. Let’s start doing it.”
We just did an organizational change
where we put one of our leaders of corpo-
rate planning into a field-operations job.
The idea is that it’ll help further his devel-
opment. He’ll bring great strategic planning
to that organization.
When we have an opportunity, we’re
going to look for our best talent and then
help them develop.
VISCONTI You’re factoring diversity into
succession planning. How are you assessing
VOSS When you get down to this pool of
candidates that you think are your high
fliers, one thing you want to make sure of is