Class of 2010
Editor's note: Hayden Creque could not be reached for updates.
Originally ran: January 7, 2011
Hayden Creque came to the United States from Trinidad more than 20 years ago, with $500 to his name.
He said with that kind of history, one has to have no fear and a high tolerance for ambiguity. Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent what you make of it, he says.
Creque's attitude has brought him far in his career. He's the vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at application technology company W3i. He's been with the company four years, and was originally brought on as the company's lawyer. But six months into the job, he was tapped to help with high turnover.
He won't say how high it was, but that might give away how dire a situation the firm was in. Creque investigated and found they needed to listen to employees to see what was wrong. The dental program didn't offer sufficient coverage, so the company needed to offer a better value proposition. From there, he also introduced new training, revamped W3i's hiring process and created a hiring manual. The company became more cognizant of culture, values, mission and objective, Creque said. The best person for any job had to have aptitude and needed to fit in its culture, he said.
Now the company has less than 7 percent annual turnover and was recently named a Star Tribune Top Workplaces award winner.
Creque went to law school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and had been an intellectual property lawyer for a Minneapolis law firm. A recruiter found him when W3i was looking for an attorney. He hadn't been looking for a new job, and said his career was going well. But he had a one-and-a-half-hour conversation with Rob Weber, one of the company's founders.
"I remember the enthusiasm for his business," Creque said.
The energy, the teamwork, the camaraderie, the entrepreneurial spirit — that's what lured him to W3i. He could also see that he could make a difference.
"You can see the impacts day in and day out," he said.
Creque also had worked as a high-level manager for a telecommunications company in Deposit, N.Y. Weber saw that his business acumen and legal background could be a huge asset for the emerging tech company. It has tapped Creque for much of its work, ranging from strategic planning to board of director duties.
Weber is impressed by the quality of Creque's work. He never does a mediocre job, and has been recognized for finding clarity in complex tasks, such as legal contracts, Weber said. He gives people flexibility to do their work, Weber said. He acts as a mentor to new managers.
Creque's responsibilities include guiding privacy and online best practices. He also has leadership influence within the company as someone responsible for operations.
In his experience, training is key. He gives the tools; employees get better at their jobs. He's sent employees to management training, even if they're not managers — so they understand why he makes certain requests or decisions.
His inclination for investment also can be seen in his involvement with the Blandin Foundation. He was invited to join its board because of his passion for technology, commitment to the community and his unique perspective. He said he didn't have access to a telephone until he was 11, and couldn't access a computer until he was 15. He's passionate about extending broadband access to rural communities, one of the Blandin Foundation's projects.
Creque is married and has a 10-year-old daughter. When not focused on to-dos, Creque likes to coach soccer, golf, spend time on his boat and travel.
He has made a concerted effort to find mentors and friends across the community.
"Everybody's got something they can teach you," Creque said.
JOB: Vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at W3i.
RESIDENCE: Sartell. Originally from Trinidad.
EDUCATION: A magna cum laude graduate of Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., where he got his bachelor of science degree in business, with a concentration in management.
He also graduated cum laude from the law school at University of Wisconsin in Madison.
INVOLVEMENT: Coach, Central Minnesota Youth Soccer Association; producer and reader at the Central Minnesota Radio Talking Books Network, which broadcasts for the blind and print disabled; and board member of the Blandin Foundation Trust.
HOW HE LEADS: He leads by example.
He likes to give people the flexibility and freedom to get their work done in whatever way best suits them, rather than dictating their hours and micromanaging their every move.
He expects high-quality work. But he wants such work to be worth it for employees, making sure to help them achieve their career aspirations.