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Alumnus and Silicon Valley innovator Kevin Compton discusses leadership at Evangel

May 23, 2012 | Paul K. Logsdon


“I have never once felt a need to compromise my integrity or my faith in order to succeed in business.”

Those were strong words from a man who has been at the top of the tech industry for the past 25 years.

And his message was music to the ears of more than 300 business and community leaders gathered last week at Evangel University for the annual joint meeting of the six Springfield Rotary Clubs.

Rotary is an international service club that has 1.2 million members and 34,000 clubs worldwide.

Kevin Compton, a 1980 alumnus of Evangel, was the guest speaker for Springfield’s special event.

“Each year, we look for a featured speaker to share their views on leadership qualities and how to be a successful role model,” said Gloria Roling, president elect of the Springfield North Rotary Club.

Troy Compton and Robert Spence

Evangel president, Dr. Robert H. Spence, hosted the luncheon and introduced Compton.

“Kevin made a solid connection with the Rotary mission, with his emphasis on ethics, integrity and servant leadership,” she said. “We could not have asked for a better speaker.”

Compton is owner-of-record of the National Hockey League San Jose Sharks; is co-founder of Radar Partners in Palo Alto, Calif.; and has been ranked as one of the top venture capitalists in the world.

During his 20 years as a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, he helped launch such companies as Google, AOL, Amazon.com, Compaq, Sun Microsystems, Intuit, VeriSign and Citrix.

He has been profiled in Fortune, Forbes and Inc. Magazine.

And he was named Evangel University’s Distinguished Alumnus of the year in 2001.

Compton used humor as he shared stories about life in Silicon Valley, but he kept the focus on integrity.

The Comptons

Compton’s roots with Evangel run deep. His parents, Troy & Marge Compton have been involved with the men’s council and ladies auxiliary since the 1950s. He also met his wife, Gayla (Masters), at the beginning of their freshman year at Evangel.

“I believe managing down is more important than managing up,” he said, explaining that leadership is a matter of focus. “There is a difference between a leader and a ladder climber.”

He also believes there are common themes to all successful leaders. “Number one, they seek the right answer; two, they listen closely and then speak clearly; three, they are organized and caring; and four, they lead with a servant’s heart.”

“I believe great leaders serve first, then lead,” he concluded.


— Paul K. Logsdon, director of public relations for Evangel University

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