COB business insights

Reeder provided do's and don'ts for future business leaders at JMU.

Russell Reeder (’94), CEO of the data protection company Infrascale, spoke April 27 as a part of the College of Business’ “Business Insights” virtual Speaker Series. Reeder’s discussion was titled, “How to Scale Your Business During a Crisis.” The presentation was hosted by Brooke Goolsby, assistant to the dean and special events planner for the College of Business.

Reeder graduated from the College of Business with a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems. Since then, he’s been an account manager and regional application sales manager for Oracle, founder and CEO for Rightsline and president and COO for GoDaddy. Since 2019, he’s held the position of CEO for Infrascale, based in Washington D.C.

The presentation centered on business leadership and how to create a positive, diverse and trusting team environment. Reeder shared techniques that he said are helpful for leaders in business to maintain stability during financial crises. He continued the discussion by providing “do’s and don’ts” for aspiring leaders at JMU. 

“The most important thing is to understand who you’re working with and the words you use, the actions you take it's like a ripple on a lake,” Reeder said. “So, understanding that you do make big impacts with little moves, and little words make big impacts.”

Reeder emphasized that the best thing to do as a team leader during a crisis is to take the time to plan strategically and be candid about the business plan communication is key. This direct form of communication within a team builds trust, he said. He also said that being a constant student of change with multiple goals can lead to success as a leader. Reeder said he defines success as “an aggregation of every day in your journey.” He added that enjoying the journey in combination with these qualities can help progress success. 

“Over 27 years, I have been hiring and I have always looked to build a diverse culture of top talent,” Reeder said. 

Reeder spent a significant portion of the presentation on the importance of the creation of culture and diversity within a work environment. He further discussed how he, as a leader, has managed diversity throughout the various companies he’s been a part of. He said that diversity within a team brings different perspectives and approaches, and serves every client. 

“I always say that our people are our most important asset,” Reeder said.

The presentation then shifted into a Q&A discussion. Reeder was asked for advice on possible data breaches within a company and he said that it should be universally understood that all personal data, passwords, email addresses and home addresses are out there. Reeder said it’s important “to understand what you’re up against” and that the information that’s easily accessed is what people would use against companies. The best solution to the issue is to change passwords consistently and back up all data, he said. 

“It’s a matter of when you are going to lose your data, not if,” Reeder said. 

Reeder was asked how he maintains an atmosphere of diversity among the various companies that he has been with. He explained how he actively gives back to the community by being involved in education. Reeder is on the Board of Directors for the Children's Science Center. The Children’s Science Center in northern Virginia is a nonprofit organization and interactive museum where children can explore STEM concepts. Reeder said he believes investments toward America’s education system should be valued so students can have an equal education. 

“Your legacy is determined for the lives you change for the better,” Reeder said.

The discussion concluded with Goolsby asking Reeder what he can foresee as upcoming challenges within COVID-19. The current economy in America is connected with a weak supply chain due to the pandemic, Reeder said, and this could have “significant consequences” for the economy in the long term. However, Reeder concluded by stating he’s confident the economy will continue to grow from here, coming out of the pandemic. 

Contact Lily Arseneau at arsenelm@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk onTwitter @BreezeNewsJMU.