The first time John Hubbard came on my radar dates back to a Chamber of Commerce banquet. He had finished his run as the chair of the chamber board and was giving his final speech.
He thanked the chamber team, as well as the board of directors for making his tenure rewarding and successful. Then he began to thank his wife, Jane, for her support, patience and understanding. But he couldn’t quite get the words out before his voice cracked. It was one of those had-to-be-there moments, but it was incredibly moving. It told me three things about John T. Hubbard.
First, he had a marriage that was based on mutual respect and true affection. Secondly, I also deduced that if he was all-in on his marriage, he probably was all-in on his profession. And, last, if he was all-in on his profession, he probably was all-in on his community.
As it turns out, I was a pretty good deducer, because I was right on all three counts.
Now, I’m going to make another amazingly bold statement: John is the only person I know that is universally liked. Being a humble person, I know John would disagree, but it’s true. Pick a demographic –– young or old, black or white, male or female. I have never heard a bad word about John in all the years I’ve known him. Never.
So, why would I write about John in this column? Well, there is one very good reason. John is retiring May 1 after 48 years with SWEPCO. As external affairs manager, John is involved in just about every facet of the community.
I would be willing to bet you $5 that no one has more name recognition in Shreveport-Bossier City. Not a mayor, not a city council person, not a parish commissioner, not a member of the school board, not a minister, not a titan of industry. You get the picture.
If there is a board in our community, it’s a good guess that John has served on it. In fact, it would be much easier to list the boards (non-profit, governmental and otherwise) John has not joined. He’s not a guy that just joins a board to pad his resume. If he’s on a board of directors, he’s going to participate. Which leads me to another point –– John isn’t just liked. He’s respected because of what he has accomplished in our community.
When John looks back on his career at SWEPCO, he can say he did it the right way. He worked his way up from the ground floor, learning the business and the community along the way. John was successful with every challenge SWEPCO gave him. Of course, John would tell you he was lucky and he was just in the right place at the right time. That’s partially true. If you have worked in business for any length of time, you know the harder you work, the luckier you get. We are defined by what we do, good or bad.
That foundation was essential to making a success of being the external affairs manager, which means being involved in all the civic, as well as the city and parish governmental relationships.
“It’s been interesting,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve seen a lot of things. You understand a lot of different organizations and how they work. Certainly, you witness a variety of leadership styles.”
When you ask John for his formula for success, his inclination to invoke the virtue of humility raises its head once again. “SWEPCO gave me a chance and I just did what I was asked to do.” Here is a pretty good blueprint if you want to be an accomplished professional.
- Put your heart into whatever you do.
- Don’t be lazy.
- Do the right thing and get it done.
- You have to care.
- You need to be engaged.
- Be a good listener.
- Ask good questions at the right time.
John has been so involved in his work and our community, it is hard to believe he is retiring. But don’t worry — John is still going to be involved in our community. My bet is we will see John just as much after May 1 as we did before May 1.