5 Questions for Newly Appointed Rackspace CEO Kevin M. Jones
Over his three-decade career, Kevin M. Jones has successfully transformed businesses to industry-high levels of both growth and profitability. Now he brings that global leadership experience to Rackspace as Chief Executive Officer.
Most recently, Kevin led the successful transformation of MV Transportation, the largest privately held transportation contracting firm in the U.S. As CEO, he and the team achieved the highest revenue in the company’s 44-year history, increased new business sales by 440% and achieved record levels of profitability. In addition, the firm had its best safety record in 10 years, reduced employee turnover and increased employee engagement. Through agreements with autonomous driving organisations and a groundbreaking strategic partnership with Uber, MV Transportation increased its pace of innovation, transforming into a mobility solutions company.
Before leading MV, Kevin held global leadership roles at DXC Technology, HPE, Dell, HP and EDS in the US, Europe and Asia, Pacific and Japan. Kevin is passionate about employee engagement, diversity and inclusion and believes that our team members are the key differentiator in business.
A resident of Dallas, Kevin introduced himself to Rackers yesterday morning at the Castle, Rackspace’s San Antonio headquarters, and via videoconference to our offices around the globe. Warm and personable, Kevin immediately related to Rackers, winning rounds of applause when describing his passion for customers and his former executive sponsorship of employee resource groups. He won the crowd over when he said he’d reached out to Graham Weston, one of the founders of Rackspace, and asked him to be an advisor, to help him understand Rackspace, its history and how the incredible culture here came to be.
Afterward, he sat down for a brief interview with the Rackblog.
Welcome to Rackspace! What attracted you to this opportunity?
Thank you so much. This has been an incredible experience already. I’ve only been in the Castle for a day, and I cannot tell you what a genuinely warm welcome I’ve received. I’ve been aware of Rackspace in the market for many years; the culture here is truly legendary, and I am so excited to be a part of it. Frankly, I was also attracted to the market opportunity Rackspace is facing. This company is unique in its offerings — our unrivaled portfolio allows us the opportunity to craft just the right, unbiased solution to meet customers’ business goals. I don’t see a single other company in the market right now who offers what we do, and our markets are growing by double digits.
What do you bring to Rackspace?
First, I believe Rackspace has the right strategy in place; leadership has clearly worked hard over the past year to define that and get us into position. I’m impressed with the fiscal discipline I’ve seen, and the investments the company has made in our fastest growing areas of the business, including managed public cloud, professional services, security and applications management. I am here to help the team execute on the strategy. I also bring a true passion for making customers successful, so I look forward to working with Rackers and continuing the tradition of Fanatical Experience. Finally, my sales and growth background give me the tools to help the company grow faster.
When you introduced yourself to Rackers yesterday, you talked a lot about people and culture. Why is that important to you?
The culture at Rackspace is amazing. It is almost like a parallel universe here, with Rackers more enthusiastic than any team I have ever encountered. I am thrilled to be a part of the culture that Graham Weston and the co-founders created and look forward to continuing our awesome traditions!
In a services business, people are literally everything. We don’t make products, we provide services — and we are only as good as a Racker’s last interaction with a customer.
It is also important that we continue serving our community through Rack Gives Back, and I will be a big supporter of diversity through our Racker Resource Groups. At Dell and HP, I served as executive sponsor for multiple Employee Resource groups, including PRIDE, supporting our LGBTQ team members, the Black Employee Network and Young Employee Network. It is important to me that people feel supported and able to bring their entire selves to work. I believe in diversity, and my leadership teams have consistently been very diverse. It is amazing what can be accomplished when people from different backgrounds and perspectives form a real team. I like the debate and new ideas that come from a well-rounded organisation.
The other group of people I care passionately about is customers — another reason I have long admired Rackspace. I love our promise, that we’re here to make customers great. It is wholly consistent with our pledge of Fanatical Experience, and I want to ensure customers remain our focus.
Where did your focus on customers begin?
It started at Electronic Data Systems, where I spent nearly 20 years. EDS was a very customer-driven organisation, and over the years I had developed a nearly obsessive operational discipline and customer service ethos. That, along with management systems that helped hold us accountable and stay on track, helped me to lead teams to strong execution, which is critical to keeping our commitments to customers. To me, that’s what builds trust, and we need to continue to do that every day at Rackspace. When we combine great execution with innovation and thought leadership, Rackspace will grow fast and nothing can stop us!
When you’re not busy growing companies, what do you do for fun?
Well, I’m a sports guy. I play a lot of tennis — my wife and two teenage sons, we’re a tennis family — plus I run, play golf…anything with a ball, really. But right now, I’m really focused on diving in with both feet. I plan to be in San Antonio five days a week when I’m not traveling to our offices around the globe and meeting customers — as you know, we’re growing internationally, and I plan to accelerate that growth too.
I’m also looking forward to meeting more folks here at the Castle. I’ll be spending the next couple of weeks listening and learning. I’m also looking forward to getting involved with the incredible work Rackers do in the community through Rack Gives Back. This is an amazing company with a rich history, and I am honoured to be a part of it.