Rod Ward III: CSC President & CEO
Years ago, Rod Ward III wanted to create a name for himself. So he left the small state of Delaware for Middlebury College in Vermont, expecting to never come back.
One thing led to another, and he met his wife Gina while working for the FMC Corporation in Chicago. Another post as Snap-On’s vice president of Europe equipment corporate development led Ward and his family to Germany.
Then in 2000, a cousin called Ward about the family business. The Speakman Company, a manufacturer of plumbing and trim products, was looking to create a succession plan, and Ward represented the fifth generation of the family business on his mother’s side.
After some discussion, Ward and his family moved back to Wilmington where he took over as president of the family firm.
A decade later, Ward would be tapped to lead his family’s other business: Corporation Service Company, today known as CSC. The premiere provider of business, legal, tax and digital brand services was established in 1899 by two lawyers, including Ward’s great-grandfather.
“I did want to get out on my own, but I’m also very much a Delaware story,” Ward said. “There are two iconic businesses that run through the family. When I left Delaware in my early 20s, I wasn’t expecting Delaware to come back 30 years later and find all this opportunity. You appreciate it more, and it’s a point of pride to say that CSC has grown with the state.”
CSC has a global presence in 40 countries and employs about 3,000 people around the world. But with a core team in Wilmington, the biggest city in the corporate capital of the United States, Ward said it’s created a company that runs like a well-oiled machine.
“I’m a people person, and I would say our people get me up in the morning. I’m incredibly proud of our ability to have a high-functioning leadership team that supports each other,” Ward said.
As time has gone on, Ward learned that leadership is mostly about understanding yourself and your style instead of following a playbook.
As CSC has grown three times larger than what it was a decade ago through expanding into new businesses and international markets, it has also come with its own unique challenges. For example, a cyberattack a few years ago that could have crippled the business was quickly isolated and handled with experienced staff at the helm.
“You have to really understand your instincts, experience and strengths,” he said. “It takes some self-reflection, and you have to really consider how your strengths can line up with the organization and put others in a position where they can thrive and be successful.”
“Leadership is action, and doing the best you can to find solutions,” Ward continued. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a small plumbing firm or a global business services firm.”
Among Ward’s other accomplishments are co-chairing the state’s public-private economic development agency, the Delaware Property Partnership; chairing the board of the Delaware Business Roundtable and the Rodel Foundation; and serving on the advisory board for the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. Ward also wants to be known as having “the best musical taste in the Ward home,” with favorites like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.