I had an excellent conversation with Ken Spangler last week and I want to share the highlights with you. Ken is Executive Vice President IT - CIO Global OpCo Technologies: Express, Ground, Freight, Logistics at FedEx, the global leader in transportation, e-commerce and business services, operating in 220+ countries. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its 550,000 employees to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and on the needs of its customers and communities.

Ken and I spoke about the overarching importance of superlative leadership and continuous improvement in the modern global enterprise.

“We’re living in dynamic times and speed of change is unbelievable,” Ken said. “You have to be a lifelong learner and continue adapting. We always needed to look forward and lean forward to succeed. Now, it’s imperative.”

Ken and I agreed that if you aren’t continually learning and growing, you’re probably heading for extinction. “You have to be comfortable with change, each and every day,” he said.

Operating globally has given Ken a deep understanding of how each of the world’s regions are unique. “You have to be nimble. You have to be nimble everywhere,” Ken said. “But the basics still matter. People and culture still matter the most.”

I genuinely appreciate how Ken emphasizes the key role of culture in a company that truly spans the globe. He also acknowledges that operational excellence is absolutely essential. Without it, he said, “you will struggle everywhere else ... the foundations will always matter.”

Conversations with world-class leaders such as Ken renew my faith in the spirit of innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. From my perspective, Ken is a role model for the 21st century executive. He understands the technologies that drive, energize and sustain modern business, and he also grasps the fundamental value of creating and nurturing a culture based on trust, teamwork and the pursuit of excellence. Those qualities are foundational for success in our rapidly evolving markets.