Conversation with a CEO Tom Perkins of Core-Mark

Posted: Friday, March 30th 2018 at 9:55 AM

NAU started off the spring semester with a continuation of the “Conversation with a CEO” or “Competitive Advantage 101” as Dr. Hales an Associate Professor at HRM, calls it.

The current CEO of Core-Mark, Tom Perkins, shared insight into the workings and motivations needed to get where he is today.

Core-Mark is a supply chain that has worked hard since 1888 to supply is customers with high quality products.

Mr. Perkins, a NAU Alumnus who was inducted into The W. A. Franke College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014. He shared how close NAU was to his heart and praised all the programs that help the students prepare for their futures such as, internships and job shadowing opportunities.

“Your first job will probably not be your last job you have,” Mr. Perkins assured the students. He opened up to the students that more experience in different positions and fields will help with the uncertainty of what path they want to go on.

“Change is constant,” Mr. Perkins said. He shared that he first came to NAU to be a forest ranger, but ended up in hotel and restaurant and accounting, these changes led him to be the CEO of Core-Mark.

Though Mr. Perkins started his career in Pepsico using his accounting degree, he realized he didn’t want to be in finance his whole life and voiced that to the hiring manager at Core-Mark. At that point, they told him he can do what he wants to do. And just like that he became division president and continued moving up from there.

Mr. Perkins said, “You may start out in one career, with one background, but don’t let people pigeon hole you into that because if you are a good leader, a good leader of people, you can build great teams, you can go into any position that you chose to.”

Mr. Perkins attributed the keys to his success as; always being open to learning, not forgetting to be present in the job you are doing, so that you can give your all to it, and the great leaders that have mentored him.

“Don’t always be thinking of the next promotion give your all where [ever] you are, because when promotions come up they’re going to be looking at the star performers.” Mr. Perkins advised the students.

He told the students, “Ask questions to show that you are willing to learn,” and, “Get more experience where you want to go.” That is just what Mr. Perkins did.

Mr. Perkins’ mentor allowed him to do more than his job required. He was allowed to go to sales meeting, meet customers, and have hands on experience in most areas a person in his job wouldn't be doing, and that showed his mentor how much he valued learning about the business, that he is now running.

When Mr. Perkins was asked about his leadership style, he said that he strives to be an empowering leader with humility, not micromanaging his employees. He added that he respects his employees and that they were selected because of the talent they have, and he trusts in that.

Following that, Mr. Perkins ended the talk speaking about the biggest mistake a new leader can make. Mr. Perkins response was, “I think new leaders tend to do too much, I think they tend to take too much on their shoulders or their desks, and you wake up one day and you don’t have a good team around you. And that’s a sign basically you weren’t a leader. You were a doer.”

Jacquelin Harold an HRM student said, after listening to Mr. Perkins speak, “I think the thing that stood out to me the most was when he was talking about, being a good leader and that as a good leader you need to make sure you’re really investing your time in the people you are leading so that they can also develop and then rise up as you rise up too.”

Another HRM student, Ammah Billington said that her biggest takeaway was, make sure that you are present in the work you are currently doing and conquering that first.

This presentation has been a valuable experience for students at NAU. It is important for students to have this opportunity, and these CEO’s are generous in offering their time and support in growing the next generation of CEOs.

Categories: hrm 2018 students conversation with a ceo tom perkins core-mark news spring 2018