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Celebrating Black History Month: David L. Steward, World Wide Technology

February 4, 2022- David L. Steward is an African American entrepreneur who founded World Wide Technologies and is its current Chairman.

“David Steward’s work ethic, accomplishments and support for many business and charitable causes in Missouri and throughout the United States serves as a signal and motivation to many other individuals that they can also achieve their dreams whether in business or other worthwhile endeavors," said Jerry M. Hunter, Senior Counsel at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Chairman of the Board of Associated Industries of Missouri. "We are fortunate to have an individual of Steward’s caliber as a citizen of the State of Missouri.”

David Steward was born in Chicago in 1951 but grew up in Clinton, Missouri. Later in life, Steward attended college at Central Missouri State University where he graduated in 1973 with a degree in business administration.

After graduation Steward decided to begin his career in St. Louis where he moved in with his older sister. Steward would hitchhike into the city and worked as a substitute teacher while applying for full-time jobs. After a short time with Wagner Electric Corp. in 1974, Steward accepted a marketing and sales position with Missouri Pacific Railroad as its first person of color to sell rail services.

A few years later in 1979, Steward joined Federal Express as a senior account executive. Just two years later, the company named him Salesman of the Year, an award that also earned him a place in the Federal Express Sales Hall of Fame. "I was very excited to earn this honor," says Steward. "On the day of the ceremony, I was given a silver ice bucket with my initials engraved on it. I was enjoying my job; I liked the company, but when I looked inside that bucket, I saw that it was empty. That vision sort of hit me then that there was an emptiness and a confinement to working for someone else. That's when I really started thinking about buying my own business."

So in 1984, Steward borrowed $2,000 from his father and used his railroad experience to open a Transportation Business Specialists company, which audited and reviewed freight-bill and overcharges for the rail industry.

In 1990, he created World Wide Technology, Inc., a corporation that distributed computer software, hardware and services to the federal government. World Wide Technology, Inc. became the U.S. government's leading supplier of advanced technology solutions, and one of the top partners of Cisco Systems, Inc., in North America.

When asked about his success, Steward is quoted saying, "We have a competitive edge over other countries, and it is important for us to preserve that. It's great that my story is only one of millions in America. I feel blessed to live in this great country."

Over the years, Steward has served on numerous committees and boards, including Centene Corporation, Civic Progress of St. Louis, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, Regional Business Council, Webster University, St. Louis Science Center, United Way of Greater St. Louis Executive Committee, Greater St. Louis Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, and Harris-Stowe State University African American Business Leadership Council. He has also won honorary doctorate degrees in humane letters from three institutions, St. Louis University, Harris-Stowe, and Lindenwood University, for his humanitarian work.