Today, Vertex CEO Jeff Westphal was featured in an interview with Jane Von Bergen for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Leadership Agenda in the business section. Westphal revealed the inspiration for creating a unique corporate culture. In a companion piece on the Philly.com Jobbing Blog, he also discussed the reasons he believes why both employees and the organization benefit from promoting sabbaticals for tenured staff. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
It's odd what people recall, but Jeff Westphal, 53, remembers staring at a chopping block in his kitchen when an insight hit him with such force that he changed his entire approach to business.
Westphal, chief executive of his family-owned, 900-employee tax software company, Vertex Inc., had come home on a Friday 18 years ago, enthusiastic about taking his family - including three kids, then all under age 6, on an impromptu family camping weekend.
His wife objected.
Casting her as a stick-in-the-mud, he began his usual approach - a mix of convincing and cajoling.
But, then, "I had this epiphany, over our chopping block, which is still in our kitchen today - this life-changing moment - where I realized that the reason she didn't want to run off to go camping for the weekend on a Friday afternoon with a minute's notice was because she was concerned about [our kids'] safety."
Question: I'm sure wives everywhere are applauding your change of heart, but how did that impact your business?
Answer: From that, I realized, "Oh my goodness, my whole company is operating with nobody really understanding anything about anybody." I changed as a leader in that instant and the company that exists today is an outgrowth of that moment.
The full Leadership Agenda interview, as well as the companion article on why everyone gets a sabbatical, can be found via the following links:
Since 1978, Vertex, Inc., has been a leading provider of tax technology and services, enabling companies of all sizes to realize the full strategic potential of the tax function by automating and integrating tax processes, while leveraging advanced and predictive analytics of tax data. Vertex provides cloud-based and on-premise solutions that can be tailored to specific industries for every major line of tax, including income, sales and consumer use, value added and payroll. Headquartered in Pennsylvania, and with offices worldwide, Vertex is a privately held company that employs over 900 professionals and serves companies across the globe.