Meet Our Chairperson: Tom Richards

Eva Tansky Blum, ChairpersonThomas E. Richards is the retired Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of CDW. Under Mr. Richards’ leadership, the company grew from $9.6 billion in revenue in 2011 to more than $15 billion in 2017 and rose from No. 270 on the Fortune 500 list to No. 189. Since the company’s 2013 initial public offering, CDW’s market capitalization has grown to over $12 billion. Mr. Richards’ was voted as Glassdoor’s Highest Rated CEOs – Employee’s Choice in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Mr. Richards joined CDW in 2009 as President and Chief Operating Officer with 33 years of experience in the technology industry. He became President and Chief Executive Officer in October 2011 and added the title of Chairman in January 2013. Mr. Richards retired as Executive Chairman of the CDW Board in December 2019. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Richards served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Qwest Communications, overseeing the day-to-day operations and performance of the telecommunications firm. Before assuming that role, he was Executive Vice President of Qwest’s business markets group. Mr. Richards also served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Clear Communications, a network management software company, and as Executive Vice President and Management Committee Member of Ameritech, where he oversaw cellular, security monitoring, network services, and cable television operations. Additionally, Mr. Richards worked for 19 years with Bell Atlantic in various sales, marketing, and operations roles in telecommunications and computer services.

He serves on the Board of Directors of Northern Trust, Bell Canada, and UPMC. He is a former board member and Chairman of Junior Achievement of Chicago and a former trustee of Rush University Medical Center. He was also a member of the Economics and Executive Clubs of Chicago.

Mr. Richards earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a four-year starter on the Pitt men’s basketball team, a member of the 1973-1974 Elite Eight Team, and finished his career as 11th on the all-time scoring list. Mr. Richards was a Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his Master of Science degree in management.


Mr. Richards was elected to serve on the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees in 2011. In June 2019, he was elected to serve as Board Chairperson-Elect. Mr. Richards has served on a number of Board Committees, including: the Athletics Committee; the Audit Committee; the Governance and Nominating Committee; and the Risk and Compliance Committee, which he chaired from 2013 until 2018. Mr. Richards also was a member of the School of Information Sciences Board of Visitors.

In 2007, Mr. Richards was honored with the Pitt Varsity Letter Club Award of Distinction, has been inducted into the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Hall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University’s 225th Anniversary Medallion.