Andrew Silvernail grew up in a small town in the US state of Maine, where the local paper mill was one of the few businesses in the area.
Becoming the CEO of a global business never entered his mind; he had planned to be a doctor. “I didn’t even know what a business was,” he says. “I’m not being facetious.”
Silvernail caught the business bug in university, after helping a local businessman, a CEO of family run construction company, launch a political campaign. “He was an incredible value-driven person,” he says. “He had a sense of mission and tried to improve people’s lives.”
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Later, while working as an analyst at financial firm, he met the chief executive of another company who suggested he should one day run a business himself. At the time he brushed off the idea – many of the famous CEOs he was aware of had an autocratic style of leadership that he didn’t like.
Over time however, Silvernail realised that people’s perceptions of what makes a successful CEO are sometimes wrong. He is now CEO of IDEX Corporation, a company worth $8.6 billion that develops numerous fluid-related products for the agriculture, fire safety and health industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re introverted or extroverted, or have an overabundance of charisma, he says. What matters is how you treat employees, your work’s purpose, and being humble.