TED@UPS Speaker: Kevin Etter

Might there be something more valuable than money that businesses could share?

Kevin Etter

Kevin Etter

There is no doubt that international companies are among the most generous when it comes to giving money, goods, and services to charitable organizations; in 2013 alone global donations exceeded $69 billion dollars.

But Kevin Etter wonders: is that the only way that companies can help non-profits? Or might there be something more valuable than money that businesses could share?

A seasoned logistics executive, Kevin Etter has spent 32 years in positions at UPS that range from healthcare strategy to industrial engineering.

These years of varied expertise are now on loan to GAVI, a non-profit that increases global access to vaccines, where Etter has been a temporary executive for 18 months.

Through this temporary displacement he has felt first-hand the unexpected benefits that come when companies donate what he believes are their most valuable assets: their employees.

To receive an email alert when the video of Kevin’s presentation at TED@UPS is ready for viewing, click the “SUBSCRIBE” button in the top menu and check the TED@UPS box. You’ll receive an email when the other TED@UPS videos are available as well.

Click here to learn more about TED@UPS.


Q&A with Kevin Etter

1. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Healthy – I was born with a congenital heart defect and spent most of my early childhood sickly and weak.  All I ever wanted to be was “normal”

2. What was your first job?

Two fold answer – I worked as a farmhand primarily hauling hay and hanging tobacco

My first IRS reportable job was with a men’s clothing store where I made $1.85/hour + commission.

3. Where do you get your best thinking done?

Anywhere I am alone.  Hikes in the woods tend to produce the more profound and deeper thoughts and ideas

4. What’s your favorite TED Talk?

There was one I watched a long time ago, I don’t remember the speaker, but she had survived breast cancer.  The nature of her talk was that she didn’t want to be looked upon as a survivor – she didn’t want to wear that label.  Rather she wanted to be known for her work and her passions.  I related.  I really related.

5. Favorite quote?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” (President Theodore Roosevelt)

“Knowledge without action is only interesting, do something.” (Kevin Etter)

6. What book are you reading right now?

41UZs8lUbqL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“African Health Leaders: Making Change and Claiming the Future” (Omaswa, Francis, Crisp, Nigel)

7. What cause are you most passionate about?

Anything that advances a child’s quality of life.  I work with a group in Louisville called Learning for Life.  Twice a year we provide a week long day camp for children with disadvantages or disabilities.  The joy I get is knowing that, for that one day a year, these kids come out to camp and they are just like all the other kids – they’re not special or different, their just kids.

8. What’s the best career advice you ever received?

A long time ago someone told me that the key to success was your ability to fake sincerity – I guess that’s why I’ve had limited success

9. Proudest accomplishment?

Pullquote share icon. Share

The best gift I’ve ever received is health.

Family, wife, children.  Community involvement. Gavi secondment

10. Last weekend on earth – where would you go?

Home with family

11. What’s something you see happening 10 years from now?

Greater global health equity due to increased childhood immunization.  Imagine the impact of a generation of children in developing and low and middle income countries growing up alive and healthy – I get chills thinking of the possibilities.

12. What is the best gift you have ever received?


13. Who would play you in a movie of your life?

I can’t imagine

14. Favorite activity after work

Coming home

TED@UPS If there’s one thing every UPSer has in common, it’s that we have an irresistible desire to figure it out and get it done. And that leads to some amazing ideas. TED@UPS explores both the destination and the journey of ideas – big and small – that inspire us, challenge how we think or feel and even change the world.

Click the RSS icon to subscribe to future articles by this author. RSS Feed


We welcome the re-use, republication, and distribution of our content – just as long as you credit us. So we ask that you insert the following tagline when you use our content:

Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.