Looking back, Steven Bandrowczak (Post ’88, BS in Computer Science) admits he’s taken a rather unconventional route to reach the C-suite at Xerox, where he’s currently the company’s president and chief operations officer.
“I am one of the most unlikely people to be sitting in this office,” he exclaimed.
Born on Long Island, he grew up in Copiague—“an environment that is not the CEO capital of the world,” as he put it and chuckled. He spent his last two years in high school working weekends slicing cold cuts in the meat department of a local deli and clamming in the Great South Bay to support himself while taking AP courses and staying on the honors roll.
“It wasn’t about going to college at that point,” he said. “I never even applied because I had no money. It wasn’t even on my radar scope.”
After he graduated, he did heavy construction for the Long Island Rail Road as a union member of Laborers’ Local 1298, spiking rails, digging holes and pouring concrete. Now he hasn’t picked up a welding torch in decades, let alone driven a bulldozer or a backhoe loader.
Since his appointment to this iconic Fortune 500 company in June 2018, he’s had far different things on his mind.
“Over the last couple of months, I’ve been focusing on how do we take Xerox to a new level,” Bandrowczak said. “How do we redefine the future of the company?” The challenge, he explains, is responding to the ever-changing demands of technology and staying competitive in this digital world.
Along the way he’s lived in five states and had offices in some 30 locations around the world, racking up 5 million frequent flyer miles—“too many!” he said.
Before joining Xerox, Bandrowczak was chief operating officer and chief information officer for Alight Solutions, based in Illinois. He handled the company’s global supply chain, shared services, product development, I/T strategy and operations, enterprise risk management and real estate. Previously he was the president of Telecommunication Media and Technology at Sutherland Global Services and senior vice president for Global Business Services at Hewlett-Packard Enterprises, transforming the organization with a focus on automation, business intelligence and labor optimization. During his career he’s held senior leadership positions for several multi-billion-dollar global companies, including Avaya, Nortel, Lenovo, DHL and Avnet, where he oversaw 40 acquisitions during his decade as CIO.
The first significant step on his career path began when he completed a six-month program in computer operations, after his future father-in-law, Sal Guigliano, told him in no uncertain terms that he had to return to school because he had the potential to go much further. It helped matters that Guigliano had also been his mentor and his boss.
With his certificate in hand, Bandrowczak started working the graveyard shift at Schweber Electronics and going to school full-time during the day.
“Oh, sleep was so overrated back then!” he said with a laugh. “I think I’m still there—I still get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and work crazy hours!”
That introductory level job eventually led him to Unisys, which not only put him through Nassau County Community College, it also helped him get his BS from LIU, starting in 1987.
“I could take multiple classes on the weekends, and it worked out very well for me,” he recalled. “The computer science classes were awesome. The accounting side gave me a great background and a tremendous leap into the business world.”
He credits his blue collar background with instilling the work ethic he has today.
“It gave me an appreciation for every level of success I’ve had—and how hard it is to get there,” he added. He and his wife Donna, now married 39 years, were childhood sweethearts. “We literally grew up a block from each other,” he said. “Without a doubt she is my rock.” Now living in Greenwich, Conn., they have a daughter, Maree, now 27, who was born in New York but grew up in Arizona when dad moved the family there to be closer to his new job.
His advice for students is to not shy away from taking the hardest path.
“I have never been afraid of taking chances,” Bandrowczak said, adding that he’s run the New York City marathon once, the Long Island marathon twice, and completed six half-marathons. “It’s always about believing in yourself, taking a chance and working hard. I approach every day as a learning opportunity.”