The Right Move

During his years as head of corporate staffing and relocations for Motorola Inc., Joseph Webb noticed a disturbing trend. He found that many black executives like himself were without mentors or a support system, and that companies were ill equipped to deal with diversity issues. So he decided to do something about it—and make a tidy profit at the same time.

Webb launched The Stump L.L.C. in 1999, a Chicago-based executive search and coaching firm. With four full-time employees and a network of 25 consultants nationwide, the company generated $320,000 in revenue in 2001 and projects at least $600,000 in revenue for 2002. Its clients include AOL Time Warner, Baxter Healthcare, and Abbott Laboratories. The company’s services include recruiting, consulting, training, and executive coaching. Fees vary based on the service provided; hourly, per session, by project, or percentage-based.

The Stump focuses on four product offerings: assisting organizations with diversity efforts, executive recruiting with a focus on minorities and women, leadership development through executive coaching for individuals or teams, and training and development for organizational readiness and effectiveness. Even the company’s name is significant to Webb’s vision of assisting executives of color in the corporate world. According to Webb, in many cultures, the tree stump symbolizes a gathering place where people came together to pool resources and share knowledge.

The Stump started out as an incubated company, one that receives operations funding from another business. Times were tough, at first, as he had to adjust from earning six figures at Motorola to an initial salary of $36,000 a year as an entrepreneur. Webb had to sacrifice a lifestyle that included regular family trips to Europe, South America, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and Disneyland. “I would be lying if I said I’d never thought of giving [entrepreneurship] up,” he admits. The turning point for The Stump came in 2001 when Webb agreed to assist gaming company MGM Mirage Inc. with its diversity efforts. “At first I didn’t want the job; I didn’t want to get involved in gaming,” says Webb. But when he realized that the project would put him in contact with black executives, training them for advancement in the MGM Mirage family and validating The Stump’s mission, he changed his mind.

Webb has no regrets about leaving the corporate world and is focusing on the future of his firm, which includes expanding its executive training and leadership development services. As the company picks up more and more customer referrals and continues to sell and market themselves for more business, Webb says, “My faith gives me the strength to go forward.”

The Stump; 205 W. Randolph St., Suite 1630, Chicago, IL 60606; 312-372-8255;