How America's Second Richest Black Person David Steward Made His Fortune
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Profiles - March 27, 2023

How America’s Second Richest Black Person David Steward Made His Fortune 

Before joining the category of world billionaires, David Steward battled with obstacles like poverty and racism. He survived the most racially tensed 60s, visiting separated schools, resting on the terrace of the movies, and being banned from the public swimming pool. His survival can be closely linked to one of his quotes, “being a personality of colour offers difficulties and opportunities.”

David didn’t enjoy the best resources from his parents. However, he learnt lessons from his parents that gave him significant wealth. One such is “treating people right.” The billionaire saw his parents treat people right and operate by that principle to date. A testament to this will be the way he treats his employees at World Wide Technology (WWT), as it was named one of the 100 best places to Work by fortune for five consecutive years. Let’s look at how David made his fortune and draw salient lessons from his journey.

David had a dream

America’s second-richest black man had a lifelong dream of holding his own business. According to him, “It was a scorching desire inside of me.” With the meagre resources of his parents, David attended Central Missouri State University and got a Bachelor of Science in Business Management in 1973. 

David began his career by working as an associate executive for the Boys Scouts of America, without pay. He dedicated his time to service, while he looked for a permanent job. He later worked as a production manager at Wagner Electricity (1974-1975), and at the Missouri Pacific Railroad as a Sales Representative for four years. 

Also, David worked as a senior account executive for Federal Express. He became a member of the company’s hall of fame when he won the Salesman of the Year award for pioneering significant business.

An empty ice bucket

In commemoration of David’s good works, Federal Express gave him an ice bucket with his initials carved inside. When he looked inside the bucket, he understood it was empty. He said, “This was a defining moment, I questioned myself,  Is this what I need out of life?” That question changed a lot of things in David’s life as he once remarked, “It was clear in my brain that my belief in God, united with the will to work hard to serve others, meant I was dedicated to succeeding.”

David’s group of seven start-up

In 1990, David started a commercial enterprise by building from the scratch, with little personal capital, no investors, and no inheritance. His startup, World Wide Technology had just 5 personnel and became $3.5 million in debt after a few years. During these years, he spent time studying how the government did business, going home without a paycheck and watching his car being repossessed from the office parking lot. After his study, he entered into partnerships with government bodies and top private companies. These partnerships have been described as a moment of breakthrough for his organization. From a $3.5 million debt, WWT had its revenues topping $1 billion. 

World Wide Technology is a technology service provider which focuses on telecommunications networks and enterprise-wide conversion services. WWT offers planning, procurement and deployment of IT products and solution selling. It is known as the top US reseller of Cisco solutions and ranks as one of the largest private companies in the States.

The company has more than 40 Fortune 100 companies as clients as well as several major federal purchasing contracts. WWT has more than 3,000 employees across 20 offices across the globe. It was named the number one African-American-owned business by Black Enterprise magazine for seven consecutive years.

Where David is today?

Today, David serves on numerous committees and boards including Civic Progress of St. Louis; BJC Health System; the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association and the Missouri Technology Corporation. His company, WWT specialised in helping customers rapidly build and deploy their IT and network infrastructure in an efficient and effective manner. It has over 500 employees, 750,000sq.Ft. of facilities and over $750 million in sales.

As a five-time winner in the Fast 50 awards, David’s net worth is primarily derived from his 59-per cent stake in World Wide Technology. He also holds a $14-million stake in Centene Corporation, a healthcare services provider operating across the United States. David recently witnessed a notable increase in his net worth due to the recent surge in the valuation of tech companies.

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