Steve and Cindy Weiss
Steve and Cindy Weiss, center, with their family at the opening of the Steve and Cindy Weiss Family Lobby in Heavener Hall in 2017.

A career of ethical leadership

Steve Weiss (BSBA ’80) admits he wasn’t the most focused or motivated student when he attended the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. But for what he lacked in stellar grades, he’s since made up for in passion.

“I wasn’t that into the scholastic part of being a Gator!” he said. “But my motivation and interest increased as I began to take more business classes. The outcome is I’m a Gator through-and-through. No matter where I have lived in the U.S. or where I have traveled overseas, everyone knows I’m a Florida Gator. Also, joining Delta Sigma Pi connected me with other business majors, and I have several successful and lifelong friends because of that connection.”

Luckily for Weiss, he met his now wife Cindy (BSBA ‘80) his freshman year in speech class, and she’s been a driving source of motivation ever since.

“She was always very focused and knew she wanted to be a lawyer,” he said of his wife, who would indeed go on to practice law in Florida and Virginia for a number of years.

“I wasn’t sure if I could be [as] successful as Cindy, but I figured she could be my meal ticket,” he joked.

While Weiss initially doubted his success, he has since built a thriving career, which started during his four years as an officer in the United States Air Force.

“That four years was probably equal to 10 years’ worth of experience,” he said. “That really helped me become a master of my skill, and the mentoring I received helped launch my confidence and career.”

Following his active duty in the Air Force, Weiss took a job with a small defense company, which gave him a top-secret security clearance and piqued his interest in the area of intelligence and national defense.

That position led him to the company he spent the majority of his career at, Science Applications International Corporation, best known as SAIC, a government services, science and engineering company.

“I was hired as a manager [at SAIC] at 29 years old,” he said. “I think my business management background at UF helped me get that job.”

Weiss’ business management and problem-solving skills helped him grow the company larger and larger during his 18 years there. His success at SAIC led him to another company in government services and information technology, CACI International.

At CACI, Weiss served as the Executive Vice President for Government Business Operations and played an integral role in helping grow the company’s revenue from $1.6 billion to $4.6 billion.

While Weiss is proud of the financial success he helped CACI achieve as well as the team he helped build, he’s most honored with another role he served in at the company, corporate ombudsman.

“I was asked by my boss, the CEO, to be an independent, neutral third party that 20,000 employees could reach out to for help resolving any work-place issues,” he said. “As a side job, it was interesting because it helped me maintain a pulse on the company and issues that affected our people.”

Helping others solve conflicts and make ethical decisions has remained a special passion for Weiss. In his current role as President and COO of Accelera Solutions, a cloud computing, cyber and IT services company, Weiss is committed to shaping the company culture to enable his employees to act with ethics and integrity.

Weiss has also found a way to teach ethical decision making and give back to his beloved alma mater. Weiss has returned on a number of occasions to the Warrington College of Business to speak with students about the importance of practicing good ethics and having a strong character.

“If you’re going to be successful in life, you need both [ethics and character],” he said. “Your character is the one thing that someone can’t take away from you.”

Weiss said he tells students that there’s no doubt they’ll face tough ethical dilemmas in their lives, but to not be afraid to make mistakes along the way, just strive to do the right thing.

“We all get in to ditches,” he said. “There’s a point to where you think ‘do I want to go down this path?’ but you should remember that nothing is fatal. There’s a way out. By seeking help and facing the truth, you can find a way out of that ditch. You can learn many lessons and become a better person in the end.”

In addition to practicing good ethics and developing a strong character, giving back to UF is another important principle for the Weiss family. The significance of the Warrington College of Business to Steve and Cindy led them to make a major gift sponsoring the lobby area in Heavener Hall. The Steve and Cindy Weiss Family Lobby opened in Heavener Hall in October 2017.