By Emily Scott – On November 19, 2014, William Jewell College welcomed William C. Cobb, President and Chief Executive Officer of H&R Block, Inc., to deliver the keynote remarks at the Everett P. Truex Economic and Financial Forum. Mr. Cobb was named President and CEO of H&R Block, Inc. in May 2011. Since then Mr. Cobb has promoted H&R Block’s main values: believing in people, taking care of clients, and delivering for shareholders. During the evening’s relaxed, question-and-answer presentation, Mr. Don Huntington, Executive in Residence in the Department of Business and Leadership, hosted “A Conversation with Bill Cobb.”
Mr. Cobb has had a wonderful career adventure. He started at Gino’s, Inc., went to Fidelity, spent time at Pepsico, Frito-lay, YUM Brands, and Ebay. He is still trying to determine what he wants to do with the rest of his life. While he has had a lot of job transitions, he never left a single company angry. Mr. Cobb highly advises every individual, if they are leaving a company, to leave on a good note. Everyone is going to have a bad day, week, or month. He advised to always look ahead during the bad times because things will turn around.
Mr. Cobb encouraged students in attendance that “every student in the room would get a job.” Individuals will not be perfect at their job. It is important to learn from the job. At H&R Block, they have a “no blame policy.” Locating whom to blame is a mistake and is a waste of energy.
Times have changed. People are always connected to their work through email and apps on their cell phone. Therefore, it is important for businesses to recognize that people have lives outside of work. Some have children that have a soccer game at 4:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. If an employee has something outside of work, they can take care of those issues as long as they stay connected. Embedded within H&R Block’s culture is a relaxed yet accountable attitude concerning employee time-off.
Culture is an incredibly large ingredient in a business. Mr. Cobb recognized this and instead of changing the culture immediately when he started at H&R Block, he wanted to observe for a while before he made any changes.. He suggested that his employees “get some swagger.” H&R Block employees were encouraged to step outside of the box and pursue their great ideas that they had for the company.
The information Mr. Cobb shared during his lecture was applicable to students of all different majors pursuing different careers. He motivated students to do their best in their job, to remember that everyone will make mistakes, and careers aren’t destinations but rather they are journeys.