Alum takes lessons from KSU to business success
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 6, 2020) — During his formative years, Richard Cox Jr. always was interested in understanding how things worked. He would take apart old electronic devices or his video games, admittedly “to varying degrees of success in reassembling.”
That inquisitive nature continued to serve Cox well, spurring him to take on new challenges and opportunities. Last year, he was promoted to senior vice president and chief information officer of Cox Enterprises, a $21 billion company.
“I think that the most important skill you can have in today’s world is being a lifelong learner,” he said.
Cox explained that he “learned to be a student forever” while earning his Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State. Stepping out of his comfort zone to take classes at night while working full time early in his career, he credited KSU – especially management professor Samia Siha – with providing a supportive and welcoming environment for him to succeed.
“Dr. Siha took the time to make sure I knew that I belonged,” Cox said. “She then raised the bar even higher and supported me to reach and exceed those expectations.”
The respect is mutual, with Siha stating that “Richard is the best student I’ve ever had in my 25 years of teaching at Kennesaw State. He is a very smart and creative individual. You don’t often have a student of his caliber in your class, but when you do, you never forget him.”
Prior to his latest promotion, the KSU alumnus was vice president of business operations and then VP of client performance for Cox Automotive, a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. He took on an additional role in 2018 when Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a classmate of his in high school, asked him to serve as the city’s chief operating officer on loan from Cox.
In accepting the position, Cox thought back to a moment in 12th grade when he and the future mayor of Atlanta were in their AP English class. Two alumni of their high school were visiting to share advice on how to be successful.
“Keisha leaned over and said, ‘One day, that’s going to be me and you,’” Cox recalled. “Even at that age, she was the type of person to inspire and believe in the best in people. It had such a profound impact on my life, so I knew that helping her was the right thing to do.”
In Cox’s first week on the job, hackers hit Atlanta’s computer networks with the largest ransomware attack ever on an American city. Cox navigated the city through it, again seeing an opportunity to grow and learn.
“It allowed me to really accelerate my learning curve and credibility,” Cox said. “In moments like that, you really determine what type of leader you have. Luckily, there were good people around me who rallied us through it.”
– Paul Floeckher
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.