June 30, 2016

CEO reflects on two years at TWF

This month marks my second anniversary as the CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation, and as with all great experiences, the time has moved incredibly fast. Before joining TWF, I had a wonderful career working in advertising, sports marketing, the NBA and IBM. I learned so much along the way that when I came to TWF I knew I had to focus on four key ingredients for our success.

  • Direction and leadership starts at the top and must set out very clear goals
  • Continued growth is essential to the long-term health of any organization 
  • Growth requires risk-taking and acceptance of those occasional failures
  • A dedicated team must all be focused on the same goals

So after two years, here’s what I’ve learned about this amazing organization.

First, leadership. The leader of the Tiger Woods Foundation is, without a doubt, Tiger Woods. Over the past 20 years, Tiger has proven himself to be a true visionary for our work. In 2001, Tiger understood that to sustain our impact for decades we would need to refocus our work from junior golf to education and STEM. And over time as we proved ourselves, he recognized that our good work had to be expanded well beyond our original goals. Simply by saying we must reach millions of kids has driven us to explore entirely new and innovative programs.

But a vision without a plan is simply a nice set of words with no impact. Over these past two years, we have created an ambitious plan that will bring inspiration and success to those millions of kids Tiger wants to reach. Over the next five years:

  1. We will reach 5,000 teachers and provide the training to enable them to bring our unique style of project-based STEM education into their classrooms.  
  2. We will double the number of students in our Earl Woods Scholarship Program, which provides the support needed to help kids not only enter college but graduate. With a graduation rate of 98.7 percent, it provides a successful model for other organizations to emulate.  
  3. We will reach millions of kids through a digital “campus,” teaching STEM and providing college access information to classrooms all around the country.

We developed these plans with an ambition to succeed at entirely new levels for both our organization and our industry. We know that there’s risk in every idea that breaks new ground, but we’re fortunate to have Tiger and a board that has encouraged risk-taking. We are not afraid to fail because we know that failure is always a possible outcome when we try to be truly innovative. But it’s a necessary risk if you want to do great work.

And while Tiger’s vision and our plan sound terrific, without a strong team for execution they become empty promises. Here is where I feel particularly blessed to lead a team that is entirely dedicated to the same purpose. It doesn’t matter whether someone works in our learning centers with kids; manages and markets our outstanding events; pitches potential donors on our programs; or provides the administrative leadership that allows all of us to do our jobs. Everyone at TWF comes to work each day with a clear focus on our purpose: to provide the direction and inspiration that allows underserved kids to thrive in their schools, workplaces and communities.

It’s been an amazing two years for me personally and, I hope, for TWF. While I look back on a career of truly wonderful jobs and people, I don’t think I was quite prepared for the fulfillment I get every day working with our team and all the kids we impact. I truly love what we’re doing, and I really can’t wait to see what the next several years bring. I do know that you’ll continue to see innovative thinking that will deliver on Tiger’s vision. It should be exciting to watch.

Join us for a celebration of unexpected champions.