Meet Jim Powers, President and CEO, UniGroup, Inc. BeALifter Leadership Interview Series # 6: 10 Questions with Bruce Waller

10 Questions from Leaders that make a difference!

BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #6: Sharing Leadership Lessons with Bruce Waller…

Jim Rohn once said, “Your success in the next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the people you meet.”

This is a testimony to my personal leadership growth over the past 20 years. I continue to learn each day by connecting with some of the most talented people in business. In this series, I want to add value to your leadership growth by introducing you to leaders that make impact as they share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader and in their personal life. So lets get started…

Today, we are going to hear from James Powers, President  and CEO, UniGroup, Inc. Jim became President of UniGroup and CEO of its operating subsidiaries, which includes United Van Lines in November 2014. Jim joined UniGroup in 2001 as the company’s chief financial officer and assumed the additional responsibility of senior vice president in 2006. In 2010 he briefly left UniGroup returning 2012 to serve as the president of UniGroup Logistics, a position he held until being appointed to his current role.of operating. I had an opportunity to personally meet Jim in 2015 during our Armstrong Relocation Presidents Club event and know you are going to really enjoy this interview.Powers_Jim

Now, let’s hear from Jim…

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Cincinnati, OH, but grew up in St. Louis. My parents were both from St. Louis and moved back when I was four years old.

2. How did you get started in business/career?

I attended Rockhurst College in Kansas City on a soccer scholarship. The soccer coach, Tony Tocco, was also a very good accounting professor. I majored in accounting, went to work for Arthur Andersen in 1983 and became a CPA.

3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader?

Many of the great leadership lessons I learned while playing team sports. Many times on an athletic field, it isn’t the best collection of players who win the game, but the team with the best leaders. What I learned on many fields and tried to coach myself through the years, is to never surrender – regardless of the score.

4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose?

It wasn’t right out of the gate. In fact, in my first few weeks at Arthur Andersen, an instructor at a training session suggested to me that I may not be cut out for my role. I have used that straight-forward conversation with that instructor from 1983, as motivation through the years, especially on those occasions when someone may have doubted my abilities.

5. What is your most favorite achievement in your current role?

I believe the team we have developed at UniGroup is rock solid. It is a mix of those who have been here for a while and some new talent sprinkled into key spots.

6. Is there any one person that inspired or mentored you along the way?

Many people have inspired and mentored me through the years. Tom Watson is certainly one over the last 15 years who has provided both great counsel and great example of what it takes to successfully lead an organization.

7. Do you have a saying or mantra that you live by?

I don’t believe in ‘live to fight another day’… ‘if there is going to be a fight, let’s have it today so we can move forward’.

8. What book are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now?

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney.

9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader?

Self-assessment – what is working, what is not. Team assessment – reinforce to team that they have my support but also provide direct feedback – even (especially) when not pleasant.

10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey?

There is not an answer guide and no two people will find success by taking the same path. Figure out what is important to you, what is important to those who have put faith in you to lead and what is important to those working for you. Be clear about the vision and work as a team to determine the path forward.

Thank YOU Jim, for sharing your wisdom, inspiring us, and being a lifter for others! Some of my interview takeaways include: Team sports is a great classroom for leadership education. Never surrendering, regardless of the score is a great mantra and a great reminder for all of us during challenging times. When someone doubts you,  use it as motivation to achieve your goals. Mentors can make a significant difference on your leadership journey, find a good one! When we are faced with challenges, try deal with them immediately so that you can move forward. Always evaluate what’s working, and what’s not working to make timely adjustments. …And finally, team reinforcement and giving direct feedback makes a difference. Figure out what’s important to you and to those around you, and share your vision for maximum team success!

What are your leadership takeaways? Send me a note  to I would enjoy hearing from you.

Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can visit his BLOG “A Relocation Minute with Bruce Waller” at for more information on employee relocation resources, If you would like more information on this interview, or know other top business leaders that would like to be a lifter and share their leadership perspective, call 972-389-5673, or email You can also follow Bruce on Twitter @brucewaller!

Leave a Reply