It was an evening of celebrations and thoughtful insights as some of the most notable leaders in technology gathered in Silicon Valley. At The Churchills 2019, club members and guests came together to honor companies and individuals who are not only great leaders, but also are doing impactful things for society. With opening remarks from Karen Tucker, CEO of Churchill Club, which celebrates its 34th anniversary this year, and the Master of Ceremonies for the night, Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes, the stage was set for a series of inspiring tales of leadership, collaboration and innovation.
The first honor of the evening was the “Game Changer: Life” award, which went to fitness innovators Peloton, for its indispensable technology and business innovation. Graham Stanton, Co-founder & SVP, Business Intelligence, at Peloton, accepted on behalf of the company, which is changing the face of exercise with its stationary bike complete with live-streamed and on-demand indoor cycling classes. During a conversation with Ray Wang, Principal Analyst & Founder of Constellation Research, Stanton shared that he’s always viewed the technology as a game changer, but it didn’t really click until he witnessed the formation of an online community around Peloton. With an IPO on the horizon, and incredible growth since its formation in 2012, one thing that hasn’t changed for Stanton, is the company’s #1 value of members first. Because according to Stanton, when Peloton does right by the customer, Peloton does well.
… committed to making their product even more valuable to meet consumers’ evolving needs in the workplace, while always maintaining the “human” element…
Next up was the “Game Changer: Work” award, which was presented to Slack for changing the way teams communicate and get work done. In a room full of attendees who were all well-versed in the collaboration hub, Slack Chief Financial Officer Allen Shim spoke with Kleiner Perkins Partner Ilya Fushman about Slack’s mission and how its company culture, focused on values, empathy and courtesy, have contributed to its 10 million+ users around the world. When asked what’s next for the product and the Slack team, Shim said it’s important to always think about where you’re going, what skills you need and how to scale. One thing’s for sure, Shim and the Slack team are committed to making their product even more valuable to meet consumers’ evolving needs in the workplace, while always maintaining the “human” element that they pride themselves in.
The “Magical Team Award” then went to Zoom, for collaborative breakthroughs that resulted in an irresistible product or service. Oded Gal, Chief Product Officer of Zoom, and Priscilla Barolo, Manager of Communications at Zoom, accepted the award on Zoom’s behalf. In an on-stage conversation, Santi Subotovsky, General Partner of Emergence Capital, began the conversation by sharing his personal experience with Zoom and using it as a tool to connect with his family in Argentina. Aside from building a phenomenal product that “just works,” according to Gal, a theme that quickly rose to prominence was Zoom’s commitment to employee happiness and building a team that has a passion for the product.
As the evening’s program transitioned from company awards, to individuals, Carl Guardino, President and CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, took the stage with City of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. Honored for his ability to “think big” while doing good for society, Liccardo shared with the audience how he became CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and how he carries on the vision of its founder David Packard, who believed the responsibility of CEOs is just as important to shareholders as it is to employees, employees’ families and the community. One of the many ways Liccardo has kept this vision alive is through the creation of the annual Turkey Trot in San Jose, which is now the largest timed Thanksgiving race in the world! Guardino also shared a heart-warming story of how through crisis you find opportunity, and now the housing trust he founded is helping ensure families in need have a roof over their head.
The evening concluded with the much-awaited presentation of the “Legendary Leader Award” to John W. Thompson, Venture Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners and Chairman of Microsoft. In an inspiring conversation with Thompson and Steve Luczo, Chairman of Seagate Technology, and a good friend of Thompson, the audience was captivated as Thompson spoke of how the importance of hardwork and focus instilled in him from a young age, made such an impact on his career journey. “Life is about life-long learning” and “learn something new each day,” were taught to Thompson by his mother and carried throughout his life from grade school to his years at IBM and Symantec and eventually, as Chairman of the Board at Microsoft where he serves as a personal mentor to CEO Satya Nadella. So what makes leaders like Satya and Thompson great? Thompson shared his perspective that it’s all about individual characteristics and creating opportunities through education, with a focus on the end result and maniacal execution to get there. In a closing remark to the audience, Thompson encouraged everyone in the room to have a sense of confidence in themselves, but not let it be completely visible to others, and of course, in the spirit of life-long learning and focus, even when you don’t like a certain aspect of your job, suck it up and learn!
“Life is about life-long learning” and “learn something new each day,” were taught to Thompson by his mother and carried throughout his life…
While the breadth of honorees was apparent, the common thread that united these inspiring individuals was their unwavering commitment to doing good for society and encouraging others to do the same.