Today, uShip welcomes Mike Williams, our new CEO.
In December, uShip founder Matt Chasen stepped down as chief executive, a role he’d held since the company began in 2003, but still remains on the Board of Directors. Since that time, Jim Martell, a veteran in the logistics world for over four decades, has served as interim CEO — and has now been named Executive Chairman of uShip’s Board.
So, today marks the start of a new leadership chapter at uShip with Mike at the helm. Get to know him a bit more through this Q&A, and feel free to check out his LinkedIn profile for more on his background.
Q. What intrigues you about uShip?
Mike Williams: There are a couple things that really jumped out at me about uShip.
The first was the amount of transformation that is occurring in the broader shipping and logistics industry. It seems like almost every business in this ecosystem – from the largest package delivery companies in the world to emerging manufacturers and startup trucking firms – is trying to figure out how to leverage technology. uShip is in a great position to lead and influence this industry transformation. I can’t drive on an Interstate anymore without trying to read the company name on every truck and wonder if they’re FTL, LTL, running empty on a back haul trip and whether they use uShip.
The second part was internal to uShip. I found the team to be full of smart, passionate and committed individuals. They’ve done a phenomenal job at building a great marketplace and have achieved a level of scale that can support growth while not being so big that it can’t be nimble. In addition to binge watching past seasons of Shipping Wars, I’m planning to lean heavily on the uShip team in helping me get up to speed on all things logistics. While I don’t have direct experience in shipping, I’m hopeful that the uShip team can benefit from my experiences helping software and technology companies in the enterprise market achieve growth and scale operations. I’ve certainly learned a few lessons from serving large multinational companies as customers – and this should be relevant to some of our current and future initiatives.
Q. Describe your management style and what it might mean for uShip’s renown company culture?
MW: The first thing I hope I’m known for is being an effective coach. I like to see individuals pursue their full professional potential – and believe that managers and leaders are key to enabling that journey.
If that’s the first thing someone says about me, I’m guessing the second one is disciplined execution. While it will be a priority for me to work with the board and executives on high level vision, strategy and priorities, I believe that real results come from having teams that are aligned and working well together. For me, that means being on the same page in terms of an overall mission that is inspiring – and then holding each other accountable every week and every day to our mutual commitments. I think this is harder to get right than many people in business appreciate – and when it’s working well, everyone gets to enjoy and celebrate the satisfaction of achieving great results at a faster pace than otherwise possible.
In regards to culture at uShip, my approach will be to foster and support what has already been established. I’ve seen the uShip culture in action on a couple occasions already – and am very impressed with the camaraderie between employees, alumni and the broader Austin technology community. I know that all uShippers (dogs and people alike) are definitely ready to move under one roof in our new HQ!
Q: What’s the last big thing you shipped, using uShip or not? Have you ever tried to DIY?
MW: I’m currently using uShip for moving a sofa from my in-laws that live in the midwest to Austin. I found the process of posting a listing to be super simple and had offers within the first 24 hours. I was able to easily compare carriers, reviews and prices – and the pickup is scheduled for the week of Feb. 20 (I wasn’t in a hurry). I’ve talked to the carrier a couple times – and all seems on track.
Now that I know how easy this is, I’ll have to resist temptation to shop incessantly on eBay.
Q: What’s your favorite White House story you can share?
MW: While there are plenty that I can’t share, one of the challenging but fun aspects of working in White House Advance was recruiting volunteers from the cities where we visited to help with events. Depending on the location, I would try to staff friends from school or work serve in volunteer roles – and the best part was making it possible for a brief introduction to the President. It’s cool to be at a friend’s house today and see a photo of them shaking the President’s hand 20 years ago.
Q. What’s your favorite non-business accomplishment?
MW: I don’t think I can declare it an accomplishment yet, but I’m certainly working really hard to be a good dad – supportive without spoiling; tough but not constraining; fun but still knowing when to be serious. More to come.
Rapid Fire bonus round:
Q: What food item will you want added to uShip’s Snack Closet of Glory?
MW: That’s an easy one — a ThinkThin protein bar. Chunky Peanut Butter is the standard, but I’m starting to fall head over heels for Lemon Delight. It’s an addiction.
Q: Favorite Austin restaurant?
MW: Two answers: The first is anywhere that my 7-year old daughter will consume more than the one food group known as mac-and-cheese. Otherwise, our go-to spot is Vespaio on S. Congress for Italian. The Lasagna ensures leftovers for lunch the next day.
Q: How do you relax?
MW: I like to compete in 1-2 triathlons (just sprint or Olympic distance) and 1-2 running races (15 miles or less) every year. Being signed up gives me a little extra motivation to stay in shape. If I seem grumpy for any period of extended time, feel free to tell me to go for a run.
Q: What was your first concert?
MW: Duh. Warrant headlining with Trixter and Firehouse as the opening bands. I’ve never quite lost my appreciation for the hair band genre.
Mike Williams Fun fact
I guess I built up a reputation for wearing really boring socks to work. As a going away present, my team at Accruent enrolled me in a Sock-of-a-Month club. Who knew that existed?