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Obama’s Former Campaign Co-Chair Scales Summits in Politics, Business and Academics

The former State Controller’s formidable journey has expanded beyond politics into funding clean technology, serving on Stanford’s faculty and coaching his kids.

 

About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60thanniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains.

When it comes to climbing mountains, few of us get beyond base-camp, staring up at the formidable summit. We marvel at that rare person who has the stamina, wits and determination to reach the mountain-top.

And then there’s Steve Westly who’s not content with scaling one mountain, he’s reached the heights of three—business, politics and academics—and he’s not finished yet.

Business

Westly reached the business summit of online auction giant eBay where he served as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Business Development, Mergers & Acquisitions and International. He helped guide the company through a time of exponential growth.  

Politics

Westly served as California Controller and Chief Fiscal Officer where he oversaw the world’s sixth largest economy during his four year term. His duties included serving on the boards of CalPERS and CalSTRS, the nation's two largest public pension funds. During his tenure he was known for enhancing revenue through a tax amnesty program and other initiatives. His legacy is leading an effort to commit more than $1 billion to clean technology investments.

While state controller, Westly ran for governor in 2006, but eventually lost to then state treasurer Phil Angelides, who was defeated by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

"Running for Governor of California was a close second," Westly said. "I ran for Governor because I felt that some of (the) pragmatic, problem solving skills that I had learned in Silicon Valley could help bring better management to the state."

Westly stepped into the political realm again in 2008 when he served as the California Co-Chair for the Obama for President campaign.

Academics

Westly served on the faculty at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business for five years. He earned both his Bachelor’s and MBA from Stanford.

Westly’s Current Challenge

Not content to sit around looking at scrapbooks of his accomplishments Westly is actively engaged on several fronts.  In 2006, he founded The Westly Group in Menlo Park, a venture capital firm whose focus is clean technology. “My partners and I have just raised our third venture capital fund focusing on clean tech,” said Westly.  “We’re trying to build companies that change the world.  We believe that two of our portfolio companies (Tesla Motors and Revolution Foods) are doing just that.

“Tesla has shown that America can make the most high performance and fuel efficient cars in the world— with a 300 mile range. 

“Revolution Foods provides healthy food for school children in low income schools. When we first backed the company, they served 8 schools in Oakland.  Today they serve over 500 schools in 12 states throughout the US.”

More mountains?

While his efforts at The Westly Group are fulfilling, Westly has alternated between politics and business—his next role could be back in politics. A New York Times article speculated that the U.S. Ambassador to China, Gary Locke, will step down later this year. High on the list of candidates for the post: Steve Westly.

Westly could not comment on the speculation. 

Family Life

Standing on the summits of his triple conquest, Westly could clearly see that a balanced life would bring him even more happiness and satisfaction. And his biggest challenge, “Being a good father. I’ve just finished coaching my 14th team for the kids (soccer, baseball and basketball). I’m not sure that I’ve learned to be a great parent yet, but I certainly try to spend a lot of time with the kids.” Westly’s children Christina and Matthew are tweens.

With his wife Anita Yu, Westly has established The Westly Foundation which focuses on helping California children at risk. Education and health care are the primary focus of grants. 

Being the Inspiration

While Steve Westly continues climbing new peaks in the political and business mountain ranges, his foundation, his company and his example inspire others to begin journeys of their own.

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