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James Cavoli, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

James Cavoli

Vice President, Distributor Support Services 

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Growing up a U.S. Army brat and watching my father interact with soldiers taught me a lot about respect. He was a senior officer, but you wouldn’t know it. His manners, actions, and emotional connection with his troops revealed a dedication to truly knowing people and building a team with a sense of mission.

The diversity and brilliance of my peers at Georgetown University and Harvard Business School taught me humility at a young age. Those college years opened my eyes to the fact that the way I approach problems is one of several options – not the only way. I’ve carried that perspective throughout my career in service to the Army and subsequently for Ford Motor Company and Progressive Insurance, as an entrepreneur and now for Swagelok.

Effective managers and leaders are open, collaborative, trusting, and empowering. They pay attention to details with a sharp focus, while remaining flexible enough to see new facts and make adjustments. One of my earliest professional leadership tests was a change mission in the Army. I was assigned to an underperforming platoon after a leader was dismissed for cause. It turned out that many of the soldiers were unmotivated to strive for success because they didn’t see how their individual efforts helped the organization. My two big lessons learned: organizations always have hidden talent and connecting people with an organization’s goals will create positive momentum.

I discovered the competitive difference that organizational agility can make during my time at Progressive, where managing the knowledge cycle – making decisions, seeing results and adjusting quickly – allowed people to succeed with above average frequency and learn from failure rather than fear it.

During my tenure as vice president and chief financial officer, I focused on building deeper financial and business knowledge to help drive sound decision making. In my current role as vice president, distributor support services, I am responsible for the development and support of our 200 sales and service centers around the world. We are promoting continued collaboration between our sales and service network and our corporate functions to deliver growth and ever-increasing value to customers. Our competition is getting better every day. We have to find new ways to understand customers and deliver new levels of value.

I have a passion for supporting and enabling those who help others. Many in my family have been affected by cancer, and my service as a board member of The Gathering Place allows me to provide support and guidance to a wonderful organization that has helped over 45,000 people cope with the impact of cancer in their lives.