C-Suite: Jeff Webster

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,944 views 

Class of 2020 C Suite Jeff Webster President & CEO Excellerate Foundation, Springdale

FAST FACT: Webster has decades of experience in executive roles, including being CEO and chief operating officer for multiple startups in technology and human performance.

What has been your toughest leadership challenge during the pandemic? Building new relationships. Those are harder to do. Our team works very well remote. And the partners we have relationships with already we’ve been able to continue momentum with them. But it’s when you are trying to build new relationships. That’s harder to do remote than in person.

Has it been a good thing or bad thing in terms of how the pandemic has altered your business’ strategy? It’s been unfortunate, the pandemic, but it’s really allowed us to help the community in a huge way given what we do. We’ve been able to make grants in emergency situations to help different organizations. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve been able to help thousands of people, one by one by one, get connected to resources that can help them within Northwest Arkansas, including accessing well over $1 million worth of funds that we’ve deployed person by person by person — helping with rent, helping with utilities, helping with general expenses around their household.

Describe your morning routine. Up at 4:30 to 5 a.m. A bit of quiet time. On my bike trainer for an hour, 1.5 hours. Then a quick protein drink, coffee, and usually I’m on Zoom and away goes the day.

What is the most important thing about being a leader? Motivating people and helping them learn from your experiences.

What keeps you up at night or worries you the most? We exist to help the less fortunate in Northwest Arkansas, especially the people in the $20,000 to $50,000 household income band. In a lot of ways, we’re the voice of those people who need help. And given the importance of who we’re out to help, a lot of folks who don’t really have a strong voice, we are an influencer. We are a driver of change. What I probably worry about the most is, don’t let me get it wrong. We’re out to help these people in the biggest way, and you pray that you’ve got it right in terms of how you can help them. It’s not a stress in the normal business sense [of] if you let somebody down, there’s money that not going to be made. In this case, if you let someone down, it’s someone who’s not going to get helped. So the importance of what I do all of the sudden is way more important than anything I ever did in the past.

If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing? I’d probably be retired. With the needs of the individuals in the community and the needs of the organizations in the community, I feel like with my business background, this is exactly what I should be doing at this point in my career.

If you had $1 million to give, what would you support? Affordable housing within Northwest Arkansas.

What’s the first app you launch on your phone each day? Email.