Autocratic…REALLY??? If you think or thought that of him then you really didn’t know him.
As I read through all the comments/stories on this blog I have to come to realize that I wasn’t the only one who felt special when they interacted with Bill. Siggghhhh…here I thought I was the only one!!! Seriously, this just goes to the heart of who Bill was/is!!!
As an employee who is not in management, I always felt as important as one when I would meet with Bill. Whenever I was in his company I never felt that I was in the company of a CEO or Chairman, it was just Bill!!! I met Bill years ago when he worked in our legal department with one of my closest friends. I also got to work with him on the Service Company Diversity Council. As he climbed through the ranks of the company, his interactions with me were always the same. He was/is the same Bill I met years ago. He was always willing to make time for me no matter how busy he was. What other CEO do you know, that would take the time to have lunch with an employee that wasn’t an executive? He would always take the time to see me if I requested a moment of his time. If you knew him, you know that he treasures family and friends more than anything else. Whenever I would see he would give me a hug and then ask me “How are the boys doing”? Then follow that with something that he knew personally about them. He always prided in knowing something about his employees and their families.
My Bill story: Bill I hope you don’t mind me sharing my story.
A couple of years ago (Spring of Junior year in High School), my older son decided that West Point was his first choice of school where he would like to attend. Well if any of you know, gaining admissions to West Point is not an easy process!!! It’s a very daunting process to say the least. In addition to several qualifications/requirement (Academics, Leadership, Medical, Physical, Teacher recommendations, etc) you also need a Congressional or Senatorial nomination to gain admission. My son was a very competitive candidate but, I being a single parent don’t believe in leaving anything to chance. J I reached out to two of our lobbyist, one that was currently employed (she is now deceased…sad day for us…Ashley we continue to miss you!!!) and another who had retired. I knew they both had a great working relationship with my Congressman and Senator, so I wasn’t above asking for their help.
As I was going through the process (again I leave nothing to chance) I asked Ashley if she thought I should talk to Bill about writing a letter on my son’s behalf. She asked “Do you feel comfortable enough to ask Bill?” and my immediate response was “YES”!!! She said go for it. I sent Bill an email asking him for 5 minutes of his time to ask for a favor for my son. When I met with Bill and told him my favor, he had only one question, “what was my son’s GPA?”, after my response he replied “ I would be glad to”. In addition, I mentioned to him that my son would be willing to meet with him in person, so that he would be more comfortable giving his endorsement of my son. Bill’s response to me was” its not necessary I know his mother”. In that moment, I felt like the most valued employee in the company. Here was my CEO saying he was comfortable giving his endorsement of my son whom he never met, just because he knew me. He then proceeded to share with me that he almost became one of the members of the Long Grey Line (a West Pointer). Wow!!! What a GREAT officer he would have made because he definitely is a GREAT CEO!!! My oldest son is now going into his senior year (Firstie as they are known) at West Point majoring in Systems Engineering. Thanks Bill for making this possible!!! Bill…be on the lookout for your invite to his graduation.
I ask again, Bill …..Autocratic??? Well I personally will have to say NO!!! Bill is more than a CEO to a lot of us and to me. I know that I always have a FRIEND in Bill. Wherever he lands they will be blessed to have him!!! Our loss will be their gain! Bill know that you are missed!!!
– Anonymous Progress Energy employee