Slaying the Dragon
PROVO, Utah – Jan 17, 2019 – After decades of leadership roles in successful businesses, Kevin Sayer was no stranger to the expectations placed upon C-suite executives, but when he had to make television appearances as president and CEO of Dexcom, he found himself in unfamiliar territory. Luckily, it was not Sayer’s first foray into unfamiliar territory, and he knew his next step might require a bit of humility.
“I had to be humble enough to go take coaching,” says Sayer, who graduated from the BYU Marriott School of Accountancy in 1983 with a masters in accounting and information systems. “I knew I wasn’t ready to be on television.” This experience, like so many others in his career, reminded Sayer of a talk he had heard years ago from the late Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his remarks, President Hinckley counseled the men of the church to prepare for circumstances in which they would have to reinvent themselves over the course of their lives.
“I remember hearing that, and looking back, I’m probably as good of an example of it as anyone,” Sayer says. “I went from a CPA to a CFO to an operations person to a CEO and now a chairman, and every time I get a new title, I have to reinvent myself.”
Sometimes those reinventions have taken place without even changing companies, as has been the case at Dexcom, Inc., where Sayer currently works as CEO, president, and chairman. Dexcom is a medical technology company that makes equipment to help people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels. Sayer was initially hired in 2011 as the COO and president. While he retains his role as president, he recently assumed both CEO and executive chairman positions as well.
While Sayer has enjoyed immense success at Dexcom, at one point, he seemed destined for a career in academia. As a graduate student at BYU Marriott, Sayer had the chance to teach undergraduates in the School of Accountancy. “I taught managerial accounting, and I lectured classes of over one hundred students,” Sayer says. “It was so fun. I thought I wanted to do that for a living.”
Looking back, Sayer is grateful for a professor who sat him down and advised him against pursuing his PhD and a career as a professor. “He told me that I was way too competitive for that and that I needed to go slay the dragon,” Sayer says. “I heeded that advice and entered the workforce, and I’m extremely glad I did.”
Sayer might have forfeited the chance to inspire intellect in the classroom, but as chief executive of Dexcom, his work still has a profound, positive effect on individuals. Sayer describes Dexcom’s products as nothing short of life altering for the individuals with diabetes who use them. He recently received a letter from a young girl in elementary school who was tasked with writing about her everyday hero. Instead of choosing a celebrity, a fictional character, or even a family member, the girl chose to write about “Spencer, the Sensor,” her Dexcom glucose monitor.
“I would be disingenuous if I told you that I came to Dexcom only because I wanted to help people,” Sayer says. “But I’ll tell you, knowing that I make a positive impact makes coming into work every day a lot more fun.”
Sayer lives in Carlsbad, California, with his wife Mimi. The Sayers raised five sons and enjoy spending time with them and their seven grandchildren.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Carson Perry