7-Eleven's DePinto 'Flipped the Pyramid'

Chain's leader delivers McLane Lecture 2014, offers insights into corporate culture

Joe DePinto 7-Eleven Convenience Stores

Joe DePinto

BELTON, Texas -- On March 26, Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Inc., delivered the 2014 McLane Lecture in the Frank & Sue Mayborn Campus Center on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) campus. The focus of DePinto's presentation was the model of servant leadership that he has made a cornerstone of the 7-Eleven corporate culture.

DePinto said that as he and his staff surveyed the organization, they found that their actions had come to convey an attitude that the individual stores and store operators existed to support the corporate headquarters.

"At that point, we flipped the pyramid," DePinto said. "We renamed the headquarters the Store Support Center. We defined the culture as putting the customers first and supporting the people who worked in our stores."

To weave this new mentality into the corporate culture, DePinto initiated a robust training and feedback program.

"Today our associates at 7-Eleven, across the entire organization, won't get hired, promoted or developed or receive bonuses without working to lead or leading utilizing our core principles," DePinto said.

This focus on individual service and leadership was front and center during an episode of the TV show Undercover Boss in which DePinto appeared in 2010. During his lecture, DePinto featured a moment from that episode in which a 7-Eleven employee named Delores exemplified the servant leadership model.

"When I was with her, she was tough on me, but I always knew she cared about me," DePinto said. "She knew every customer's name, and they all knew her name. She is respected by her community because she loves what she does, and she treats everyone like family."

The McLane Lecture brings nationally recognized speakers to UMHB each year to promote awareness and information about issues concerning leadership and business. The school offers the annual lecture free to the public through the generosity of Temple, Texas, residents Elizabeth and Drayton McLane Jr.

Click here to view additional images of the event.