Navigating the New Normal: David Meredith (M.S. in MIT ’03), CEO and Board Director of Everbridge

This McIntire alumnus is helping governments and businesses across the globe keep people safe.

David Meredith

David Meredith

These are extremely uncertain times. Over the last few weeks, we’ve all been made aware of the fragility of our health, our institutions, and even our way of life.

While we stay glued to the news and search for answers to a constantly shifting situation, one McIntire School of Commerce alumnus is helping governments and businesses across the globe keep people safe.

David Meredith, CEO and Board Director of Everbridge Inc., supports a world-spanning team of 1,000-plus employees who provide critical event management software-as-a-service solutions to more than 550 million people, with clients that include Australia, Singapore, Peru, four European nations, California, New York, Florida, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft, to name a few.

The McIntire M.S. in MIT graduate and former UVA Management of IT Advisory board member says his mission-driven company protects people and allows companies to keep running in the face of threats ranging from viral outbreaks to cyberattacks and IT disruptions, as well as natural disasters like the bushfires in Australia and cyclones in India.

But unlike a hurricane or security breach by hackers, the pandemic promises no specific end date. Yet Meredith and his team remain adept at switching gears to combat this unprecedented and highly critical event.

Best Defenses
Though our self-isolation has just begun, it was only recently when the world was out in throngs—the kind that brought potential dangers that rarely loomed with the stealth of disease. As such, Meredith has overseen the uncertainty of mass-gathering celebrations such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New Year’s Eve at Times Square, visits from the Pope, sporting events like the Boston Marathon and last year’s Super Bowl in Miami, and the Kansas City championship parade that followed.

Seemingly overnight, those events are now the stuff of a different era. Now we’re worried about the number of available hospital beds and being able to buy toilet paper. Things have changed fast.

Everbridge software works to determine the relevance of a threat to an organization’s people, facilities, assets, and supply chain. It then “automatically initiates, orchestrates, and monitors execution of an enterprise-wide response plan, while analyzing cycle times and results to identify bottlenecks and improve future performance,” Meredith explains.

So with the virus taxing many of the world’s infrastructures and causing widespread upheaval, Meredith says that the uneasy climate requires extra fortitude to overcome the various issues that arise.

“The COVID-19 threat does present challenges in that it is happening across most places on Earth at the same time—and the threat is persistent and growing,” says Meredith. “Most critical events happen quickly and don’t last for so many months. As a result, our people have been working harder than ever to support our thousands of customers and first responders. Companies are using our systems to reduce risk for their travelers and also to monitor disruptions to their supply chain.”

Meredith notes that organizations have to be able to identify and find impacted people, assets, and functions—which includes responders required to act during the pandemic. It’s imperative? Keep all lines of communication open and strong in order to get resources where they need to go—and in the shortest amount of time possible.

“Businesses around the world have leveraged our critical event management platform to send over 75 million coronavirus-related communications to manage the impact of the outbreak on workers, facilities, suppliers, and distribution routes,” he says. “We have mobilized our resources to bring the best data and management practices to bear in order to help organizations track developments with the virus, including health-related incidents and bulletins, airport closures, transportation delays, movement restrictions, and manufacturing disruptions.”

A McIntire Foundation
Based in the greater Boston area, Meredith has had an impressive career serving as an executive for tech companies in the digital media, education, marketing, and IT and cloud services areas. As a software-based platform, Everbridge does seem to at least somewhat fit the general profile of his past positions, but the jump to dealing with such serious day-to-day operations required a steely frame of mind and a slightly retooled approach. Meredith is as fully invested as he was ready for the challenges of the role, however.

Not surprisingly, he is quick to credit his time in McIntire’s M.S. in MIT Program with assisting in the further development of his skill set through its innovative educational experience.

“McIntire provided a foundation across both business and IT that served me well, as I frequently operate in technology-centric companies,” he says, noting that many of members of the Comm School community have become lifelong friends and a strong support network for him.

“In fact,” he adds, “one of my professors, Barb Wixom, happens to be a neighbor here in the greater Boston area and remains a dear friend to this day.”

Asked if she was his favorite professor, Meredith is taken aback. “That’s like asking me which of my kids I like the best! All of my professors were fantastic!”

He lists those he’s kept in touch with over the years, including Professors Ryan Nelson, Stefano Grazioli, Rob Cross, Adelaide Wilcox King, Eric Martin, and George Overstreet.

“I also had the honor of getting to deliver guest lectures at various courses with world-class UVA professors like Ira Harris and Natasha Zhang Foutz,” he says.

He also insists on giving a shout out to Dean Z. “The culture of an organization frequently starts at the top, so I have to commend the outstanding leadership of longtime Dean and Professor Carl Zeithaml.”

Meredith has taken that leadership lesson to heart: Since joining Everbridge as CEO in July 2019, his passion and vision have significantly motivated his colleagues. Their feedback was responsible for the company’s recent U.S. certification by Great Place to Work®, a global employee experience research firm. Recognized for its culture, mission, and aforementioned leadership, Everbridge, as directed by Meredith, provides continued proof of the organization’s strong bond with its people, innovators in the emergency response space.

Committed to the Mission
Founded in the aftermath of the tragic events of 9/11, Everbridge originally focused on improving communications to better defend people during a crisis. Since that defining moment, it expanded its reach to include protecting government assets, supply chains, and reputations. It was the power of that mission that drew Meredith to the company.

“As CEO, it is my honor to help lead the strong culture of passionate and committed members of the global Everbridge team—affectionately known as ‘Bridgers.’ They continue to inspire me every day.”

He seems to have an intuition for the inspirational and encourages students to “follow their passion,” not because it’s an easy platitude to toss out, but because he truly believes it.

“If you are excited about what you are doing, it doesn’t feel like a job,” he says. “I would also say that technology combined with business-minded thinking can solve some of the most vexing problems of our time. So I hope that our next generation of UVA students tries to find ways to do well by doing good.”

As he reflects on some of the tougher times he had in his own career, he references a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Meredith says he may have been saved a great deal of stress if anyone had told him years earlier that one of the keys to success is the wherewithal to keep going. To persist. He had to learn the hard way that setbacks are part of the growth process.

As we attempt to forge ahead through these unusual and uncomfortable days, we could all stand to keep that important lesson in mind.

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