B.S. in Engineering Physics with a major in mathematics from University of Illinois
Master degree in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University
Worked ten years at AT&T, Bell Laboratories
Worked ten years at Hewlett Packard as Vice President in Computer Organization
Former Executive Vice President at Xilinx
Rich Sevcik: Character Plus Common Sense
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: October 7, 2010
Rich incorporates 10 management principles that will help build success in any company: integrity; humility; be aggressive; keep it simple; focus; measure it; people are your company’s most valuable resource, character; goal setting and measure it.
The first is Integrity: mean what you say and say what you mean. “Always live and work with integrity; be honest with yourself and with all the people whom you impact on a daily basis,” says Rich. He cites a liberal university experiment, which was conducted on a group of students. The students were presented with an opportunity to cheat on a test; most of them did cheat repeatedly. There was one group of students who were asked to write down as many of the Ten Commandments as they could recall. Immediately following their recall they were given the same opportunity to cheat as the first group. Amazingly none of the students in this second group cheated on the test.
“If we want to raise the level of interity in our society, it would serve us well to simply teach the importance of integrity,” says Rich. “By reminding people about morality, they are less likely to cheat and lie.”
Focus is crucial to getting things done quickly and successfully; it’s often necessary to say “no” to a myriad of distractions. “Learn to say ‘no’ in a polite way,” says Rich. “Focus is achieved by saying 'no' at the right time.” Productivity and success feed off of each other, and there are many things in daily life that can distract people from being productive. That hinders success. Remain focused on the task at hand until it is completed. “You want to be polite and get back to that person and their new idea at the right time,” says Rich, “I always keep a parking lot of new ideas that may be worth pursuing at some future date, after I’m finished with the current work.” Successful leaders pick out the best ideas, and then stay focused long enough to be successful. The best way to successfully say “no” to distractions is to know what to say “yes” to each day. Having clear set goals helps in keeping focused on the tasks at hand. “A funny thing happens as you sharpen your focus; you become special,” says Rich. “Success is all about specialization which leads to excellence.”
THE COMPANY IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE
People are a company’s most valuable resource and that definitely includes you. Without dedicated people a company is not worth much at all. “While I was at Xilinx, the founder and CEO really believed the workers were the most important part to making the company better,” says Rich. “He designed an organization chart that put him at the bottom and all the employees were at the top of the organization. We posted those charts in all the conference rooms to make sure that everyone remembered that they were the key to success.” This mindset propelled Xilinx to a $8 billion market capitalization in 2006. But even more impressive, Xilinx and their employees were ranked in FORTUNE Magazine’s “Ten Best Places To Work” for four consecutive years.
Rich was employed for ten years at AT&T, Bell Laboratories, where he worked as a digital circuit designer and software engineer. He participated in the first telephone cell phone trial in Oak Park, Illinois. Rich then moved to California and joined Bell Northern Research, Northern Telecom. As a vice president he led the development of the Meridian Office Communication System, which achieved number one market share during the 1980s.
After eight years Rich joined Hewlett Packard’s computer organization. Again as vice president group general manager, he led a team of 2,000 engineers in the development of HP’s computer servers, workstations, and networking systems. HP’s computer servers still enjoy a number one market share worldwide. After ten years Rich joined Xilinx in the programmable logic industry. As executive vice president, he led the development of Xilinx’s ISE customer software tools as well as the Virtex and Spartan semiconductor product lines. Both of these product lines became number one in market share with the company exceeding $1.7 billion in revenue with more that 20 percentnet income.
Currently Rich is retired from full time employment. He does consulting work part time including one Board seat. Rich and his wife also lead a Christian ministry called God Talk, speaking with un-churched people about God at local retail malls.
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