Posted on May 2, 2016
A conversation with Ray Morris, CREDO’s new CEO
Tell us about your professional background.
I’ve spent 30 years in progressively more responsible roles as a technologist and engineering guy. Therefore, I came into this role from the product side. This naturally led me to see how I could help with operations, leading to very significant transformation initiatives for optimizing businesses and processes through innovation. I have had the opportunity to work with some very smart, talented and inspiring individuals, and was also fortunate to have great mentors, who taught me a lot along the way.
Being around people who are inspired, motivated and talented makes me happy. I am very grateful for my journey and am very thankful to now be working with this great team at CREDO.
What led you to join CREDO?
I’ve been with many wireless companies since the industry was in its infancy in the late ‘80s; I grew up in that environment. I then went into different industries: marketing, marketing services, engineering, hosting. About six years ago, I was with a company called Great Call, which had a product called Jitterbug that focused primarily on seniors. We found great success there and then moved into five-star emergency-response devices.
I was there for four years. It was a great, team-focused company with common goals and was one of the best, if not the best, experiences of my career. I had moved away from wireless when this opportunity came up.
But more to the point of why I’m at CREDO: a person I respect deeply once used the term “corporate refugee” in a conversation and it really stuck with me. So many of us have spent our lives working, and even fully appreciating and enjoying what we do, but at the same time with a longing to do something more emotionally fulfilling. I have a real alignment with the progressive side of CREDO. I have been a great fan and supporter of this team since it was Working Assets. For me, taking on this role was a no-brainer and the job of a lifetime. This is a role where I can not only use my professional skills, but also feed my soul.
Why are you a progressive?
My starting place comes from the environment and neighborhoods in which I grew up, as well as the people I grew up with. Being raised by a single mom with four kids who worked several jobs created a social and values narrative in our lives that has always stuck with me.
The values that the progressive movement advocates for have always resonated deeply with me. As a kid I could see social and economic disparities that needed to be fixed.
There are people who don’t have food, clothing or shelter, communities that don’t have clean water, people who are being denied basic civil and human rights, and people who are (sometimes violently) disrespected for their preferences. Who will help them? Throughout my career, I would often wish that I could help more. And that’s why I’m with this company today. CREDO advocates every day for progressive causes through its activism and has donated over $80 million to help further the values I am passionate about.
Now that you’re onboard with CREDO, what opportunities do you see for the company?
We have this super smart, deeply talented group of people here at CREDO who care and advocate for myriad social and environmental issues. We also have over 4 million members who share our values. For me, it’s about leveraging the work we’ve done in the past. How do we get better at that? How do we influence more people? What can I do from a technology perspective, a business perspective and a progressive perspective to help push us into new channels and conversations, representing the people whose voices need to be heard or the people who need to hear these voices?
If you were to describe your vision for CREDO in three words, what would those words be?
Grow, inspire and influence. We should grow our movement but also the progressive movement. We want to grow the donations we give each month to great organizations and grow the engagement of the progressive community.
We want to inspire people to believe that they can make a difference. We appreciate the fact that every single one of us has a voice, an important voice, and we want to amplify those voices. When people buy our products and services or participate in our activism for the causes in which we believe, what they are saying is, “I want my voice to matter.” Our job is to amplify those voices. We need to let people know, through our activism and donations, that we have made a difference throughout the past 30 years and that they have made a difference and participated in that process as well.
Finally, we need a greater degree of influence in the important discussions that are shaping our country and its direction. We need to make sure that we help represent those people who can’t speak or advocate for themselves. Maybe they don’t have the time, maybe they don’t have the resources. We do and we’re putting them to work to make change.
One of CREDO’s most important initiatives is partnering with the nation’s leading progressive nonprofits, like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Rainforest Action Network. How do you see those partnerships evolving in the years ahead?
We fully expect to continue growing the support CREDO provides to the important organizations with whom we’ve partnered in the past, while also working with new groups who are coming together to make a difference.
The work we’re most excited about is increasing our contributions, finding new ways to personalize and grow our communities of common interests, expanding our reach and influence, and helping people come together to organize our collective voices for change.
The mobile industry is fast-paced and ever-changing. As a mobile phone consumer, what changes in the industry are you most looking forward to?
Mobile is so much more than it used to be. While I can use the “plain ol’ phone” for work or to catch up with friends, I can also read a book while on the train during my commute, follow sports, politics (I can’t help it) or even check on my daughters to see how they’re doing on Instagram (please don’t tell them). I can even monitor my house from my phone.
Mobile brings the entire world to our fingertips and I love that CREDO Mobile enables this while also advocating for important social causes. So the meaning of mobile has changed. It’s the world at our fingertips. At CREDO, we think a lot about our community of progressive activism and how we might be able to pull groups of people together for a common purpose. There are some great ideas germinating, and I am super excited about the things we’ll be able to accomplish.
As a leader, what’s your mantra?
Quality matters. I’m a bit obsessive about it. Everything we do, every product, service or interaction should be as good as it can be, at least in this moment. We should be nearly fanatical about continuously improving those experiences. Our CREDO members—whether they’re people who participate in our activism or donations, carry our credit card, use CREDO Long Distance or CREDO Mobile (or all of these) —have put their trust in us. It is our responsibility to ensure that everything we do is as good as it can be. Every team member in every seat is responsible for creating great experiences.
What’s a fun fact that not many people know about you?
I’ve restored cars with my own hands. Throughout my life I’ve purchased and renovated rundown houses, and I do a lot of the work myself. The renovations were a form a therapy, I suppose, and I enjoyed the experience of the transformation. I would typically sell them shortly after I considered them to be “finished.” Several years ago I renovated a house that I loved and somewhere along the way I became a fairly proficient gardener. I lived in that house longer than I had ever lived anywhere else and found real joy in “playing in the dirt.” My love of gardening is often surprising for some reason but it is a Zen experience for me.