Scott White, VP Sales at Rackspace, RealCo Seed Fund Program Mentor, is a San Antonian who has spent the majority of his career at Rackspace. He grew up in different roles within the company including sales, marketing, and service delivery. His career has taken him to London where he ran international sales. He spent a short time at a healthcare cloud startup but remained in touch with Rackspace and eventually decided to return.
He is currently responsible for sales in the Americas as well as operations, marketing, customer care, and service delivery. Scott shares his deep content knowledge as a distinguished mentor for the RealCo Seed Fund Program.
What was your greatest life accomplishment and what did it teach you? I played a significant role in the growth of Rackspace, taking the company from 10 million to several billion. I started there when I was 20 years old, and watched the company grow from a tiny company to a company of thousands of people. In hindsight, you can not remember all that you learned but you know that you are a much different person at the end. Leadership is the most valuable thing that I learned through this process. Specifically, how important employees are to the success or failure of a company. In hindsight, when I joined Clear Data they had tried to mimic Rackspace but then building the culture was something that they overlooked.
Talking about culture, there are so many international things going on. Take, for example, what the Dutch do together with innovative private companies when it comes to water management. The mission at Rackspace was always to create the world’s greatest service company. The reason I stayed with Clear Data for a short period of time, was that the mission of the CEO was to go public and make money. When this is your true north that is not one that people and your team can buy into.
What was your biggest failure? How do you cope with failure or set-backs?
I think it was my decision to leave Rackspace. What I did to cope with it was after I left I gave a lot of thought to why I left, what it was that I really enjoyed and why it was a good fit for me. At the same time, I thought about why Clear Data was a bad fit for me. What I did to fix it made the hard decision to go back. Those were not easy decisions. Leaving Rackspace was not a great move at the time and admitting that and walking back in was a hard reality to face but the right reality in the end because what I enjoyed was worth the pain to go back. But, as you know, there are more people who leave, even their home country to pursue a more interesting future.
What keeps you up at night?
I have a daughter that is going to be a teenager soon. . . . But related to work, I think about issues associated with Rackspace going through a big transformation comparable to what banks have been through some years way back. While I have a deep understanding of what is going on, it is a delicate balance to keep my team engaged and provide them with the information they need without sharing everything we are doing with everyone. Giving my team the right information to make educated decisions to continue to be a Racker is important to me but sometimes difficult in my role.
What is the advice you would give the Pre-Career version of yourself?
I would tell myself to chase a career that you love do not chase money. I have been lucky enough that Rackspace was one and the same for me. I have seen many friends that have been really happy and decided to go somewhere that did not make them happy but made them a lot of money. They did not end up well in the end. Shared Value Strategy focus is what matters!
What advice do you have to give the next generation of business leaders?
I have a lot of those behind me today. I’d say that you are going to move up by working your ass off and I think that a lot of people have an expectation that they will move up. It’s those that will go take it and not have it handed to them that will succeed. Take just a look at the number of successful brands in relatively small countries like, for example, the Netherlands.
Books/podcasts/other education sources you recommend:
TedTalks. I struggle with sitting down and reading between work and family. Don’t get a lot of time to read. So, I try to watch 2-3 TedTalks a week.