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Credera CEO, Justin Bell presenting at CEO Day 2022

Bucket Draining and Filling

Monday, April 18, 2022

Media Contact: Bailey Stacy | Communications Coordinator, Marketing & Communications | 405-744-2700 | bailey.stacy@okstate.edu

How CEO, Justin Bell has found tools to help him succeed

How often have you been asked, what is your dream job? Throughout the last five years, I feel like this question is asked more than anything else. After thinking about it, I can now confidently say my dream jobs are getting to the C-suite level (a title with Chief/being an executive-level manager) and becoming a mom.

The number one thing Spears Business has taught me is networking and having connections are one of the most important things to have when finding a job and starting a career. Therefore, when Spears Business hosted its 19th Annual CEO Day I knew I had to attend. One of the CEOs who attended was Justin Bell, Chief Executive Officer of Credera, a consulting firm that focuses on strategy, transformation, data and technology.

I was lucky enough to sit at Justin’s table for breakfast at CEO Day where seven other students and I had the opportunity to ask him questions. He shared with us that he graduated in 2000 from OSU with a degree in management information systems. After graduation, he started working at Luminant Worldwide as a consultant and stayed there for two years before they went bankrupt in 2002. Bell then worked as an App Support Manager for American Airlines for two years, before beginning his career at Credera in 2004.

Bell had spontaneously interviewed with Credera on his 26th birthday and was using it as a “practice interview” for when he really starts looking for jobs. At the time, Credera had nine people at the company and when Justin joined as the 10th employee, he knew it was right where he wanted to be after being with two large companies. Throughout the U.S., Credera has grown from 350 people to 1000 in just four years not including their international offices.

Internationally, there are now almost 3,500 employees throughout Australia, Singapore, India, United Kingdom, Costa Rica and Mauritius.

Bell works remotely and goes into the Dallas office once every two weeks. By working remotely, he can get work done early in the morning before his wife, Karla, and two kids are awake. Work-life balance is extremely important to him, so even though he is the CEO, he still makes time to get “dad duties” done too. Luckily, he is an early riser, so after he gets a few meetings in and answers emails in the morning, he makes the kids breakfast and takes them to school.

Another way he prioritizes work-life balance is by spacing out his trips so he can be an active father and not become overwhelmed or overworked.

There are two things Bell mentioned to us that really stuck out to me, the reasons he carries a notebook around and the bucket filling/draining method for his calendar.

One of the students at my table noticed he was carrying a notebook around and asked him what it was for. He said two reasons:

  1. Helps keep him focused when interacting with the person/group he is meeting with. He takes notes and writes down important dates/topics mentioned in meetings.
  2. Shows that you are paying attention and care.

Lastly, before scheduling anything he checks his calendar and sees what is scheduled for the week. Is it bucket filling or bucket draining? He said that he will not schedule two draining events back-to-back.

An example of a draining event would be giving an employee a harsh yearly review. He does not enjoy doing that and therefore would need time afterward. If there is a bucket-draining event, he likes to schedule 15-minute breaks so he can take a walk and clear his head before doing the next thing.

A bucket filling event would be CEO Day. He enjoys meeting with Spears Business students and getting to know us, therefore, it fills his bucket.

After talking with Justin, I realized it's about balance when getting to the C-suite level. Balancing work and personal life and making sure you are good mentally, are what make a great CEO.

Story By: Alexis Hightower | alexis.hightower@okstate.edu

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