Wilbert L. “Bill” Gore, founder of W.L. Gore & Associates
I had the pleasure of meeting Bill and his wife, Vieve, when I joined W.L. Gore & Associates in 1983. He was special because he saw things in you that you didn’t see in yourself. He was skilled in bringing out the best in people. Bill passed away a couple of years later, but his vision for creating an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration was a real innovation, especially in the early 1960s. He introduced an entirely new management philosophy organized around a flat management structure instead of a hierarchy, which was almost unheard of at the time. His forethought was incredible. We now operate in over 30 countries, with almost 10,000 associates. A lot of people said Bill’s philosophy wasn’t transferable to different cultures and environments, but it has proven very scalable. We make sure associates know their value, and that’s empowering. Hopefully, the reach of our products, like medical devices and protective apparel, is far. It has made a real difference in saving lives, and that’s very rewarding.