Sachi Thompson: Do The Hustle
Responsibilities: Lead Curvature’s global server, storage, and network hardware business, including running operations, sales, and executing the division’s corporate strategy.
Experience: Executive vice president, global supply chain,Curvature; chief operating officer, Curvature (pre-merger with SMS); director of real estate and leasing,Ess-Tee Management; production director,Big Dogs Sportswear.
Education: B.A., History, University of California—Santa Barbara
In 2007, I joined Curvature as its 85th employee. We were at about $87 million in revenue, and operating only in the United States. Originally, my role was the chief executive officer’s right hand. I put myself anywhere the company needed me, because our growth was blasting off like a rocket ship.
Every six months or so, I’d take over a new responsibility. First was real estate, then supply chain, and then operations. I became chief operating officer in 2014. Under my direction, my focus was building facilities for the organization and becoming a global brand.
This expansion changed our supply chain considerably. I had to make sure we were ready to deliver the parts our customers needed to a service area that grew to more than 140 countries in 2016. The complexity changed from, “I can operate my production plants between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” to “I need 24/7 operations centers.” This forced me to focus on global logistics and a global supply chain.
I gained my education in this space by going out and dealing with supply chain challenges and complex operational logistics issues. I’d bring in consultants, learn from them, and apply best practices to our business. Early in my career I learned that the key to success is hiring the best talent to focus on critical areas of the business.
Being the youngest of five siblings, with a single mother who was an immigrant from Japan, I was taught from an early age that education is a gift. Now, when I see opportunity for myself or others, I seize it. Some of my greatest hires have been out in the world where I see a person hustling on the job. I give them my card and say, ‘I’d love to hire you in our operations center.’ We can do a lot for employees who have that hustle, grit, and desire to be better.
I have had amazing opportunities that allowed me to develop a unique leadership approach. If I have a system or process that’s not working or isn’t scaling, I start to work with people at all levels to show me why it’s not working. Then I take it down another level to the process or the widget as it’s going through our plant, so I can see what’s really happening.I try to make complex problems simple and provide the best possible experience for my staff.
Amid the pandemic, we were able to provide our hospital clients with equipment that wasn’t readily available from original equipment manufacturers.Because Curvature is a vendor-agnostic provider, we could give our clients various options, which, in turn, helped them save money.
There’s a concern that pre-owned isn’t the same quality as new, but we’ve been in this business for 30 years and know the quality of our offerings. It’s nice when new customers say, “Not only did you help me get what I needed, but you saved our organization a considerable amount of money.”
When you learn what you’re supposed to do in this world and do it well, you feel like you’ve unlocked your purpose and it never feels like work. I’m fortunate that my work at this company is my purpose.
Sachi Thompson Answers the Big Questions
1. If you could travel anywhere, and time and money weren’t constraints, where would you go?
One place on my bucket list is Greece. I’d also love to go to Croatia.
2. If you could represent the United States in the Olympics, what sport would you choose?
Gymnastics. From when I was four years old until I was 10, I was in a gymnastics league. I competed at the Olympic pre-trials and pushed myself at a young age to achieve difficult things. While I didn’t make it, I learned early on the value of rigor and training—four hours every night, six days a week—that helped me develop a strong work ethic.
3. If you had $1 million to start a new business or philanthropic venture, how might you invest it?
I would build a company where my employees owned it with me. Every dollar of profit would go to something that solves real problems, like water or housing. We’d make an impact in communities all over the country.