“In business, you’re going to have values come from somewhere,” says Bandwidth CEO David Morken. “And my values come from my faith in God. I am a Christian and unapologetically so.”
And, while he’s not the lone Christian executive in the Triangle, the way he wears that faith on his sleeve – be it in an interview with a reporter or in the workplace – isn’t typical of the cold, calculated CEO stereotype.
But, in his own way, Morken claims to be both.
“I’m not in the business of preaching,” he says. “I’m a red-blooded American capitalist pig, but what that means is you want to serve,” he says. “You want to improve the human condition.”
That dichotomy is one of the things that struck me about Morken as I was writing this week’s centerpiece.
“It’s amazing when you can have an economic alignment with a service orientation and a service heart,” he says. And it’s how he does business, he adds, bringing up the word integrity. “You don’t just tell the truth because it’s going to have an economic benefit, you have to tell the truth when it’s going to cause economic harm as well.”
It was prayer, he notes, that led him and his wife to take that leap of faith and start Bandwidth in the first place.
“She didn’t hesitate,” he’s quick to point out.
So, with $100,000 in law school debt, he heeded the call, moving his family into his parents’ cramped half of a duplex to start the company, with three kids and one on the way.
And, as it is with all entrepreneurs, the odds were stacked against him.
While Bandwidth has team members of several faiths, it does have a spirit-oriented approach to the workplace, he tells me, trying to take care of all of its employees’ needs, from the physical aspect with the treadmill desks and on-site gym to the spiritual aspect with two chaplains available three days a week.
It’s a counseling benefit, Morken says.
“They’re not here to preach,” he adds.
They’re just here to… well, be here.
“They are present in about half of the Fortune 500,” he says of chaplains. “The fact is, I am ill-equipped to be in an emergency room and be excellent at providing counsel.”
And, as Bandwidth grows – by 100 employees this year – so do those needs.
But it’s not just about keeping his 400-plus employees happy. It’s also about preserving the culture that Morken and his co-founder, Henry Kaestner, first began in that duplex decades ago, he says.
“And it works for us.”