I've had the pleasure of meeting Bill Gates on a few occasions when I worked at Microsoft. The first time was at an internal strategy workshop in Snowqualmie where Bill participated with a few other Microsoft executives and a bunch of us more "normal" employees. This was a fantastic inspiring couple of days and pretty awesome to see the dedication and engagement from the leadership team at Microsoft.
At another session I was participating in a so-called "Gates"review where we - as a product team - were presenting our new project to Bill and others. This was likewise a fantastic experience - although a bit more scary to experience the level of detail which he was capable of dealing with.
These days Bill Gates has dedicated his time to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation where he is spending the majority of the money earned through Microsoft trying to improve health and fight poverty around the globe.
I just read a brillant interview with Bill Gates which I would recommend. It can be found here:
It's interesting to see that even though Bill has spent most of his life building technology he doesn't believe it in itself can save the world.
"I certainly love the IT thing,” he says. “But when we want to improve lives, you’ve got to deal with more basic things like child survival, child nutrition.”
As he also states in the interview [parafrased], "what is most important - internet connectivity or finding a vaccination for malaria". There is not doubt that these days Bill Gates prioritizes the disease challenges rather than bringing internet connectivity to everyone.
I'm not sure I've ever had a role model as such, but Bill Gates certainly could be one.
Read the article - it's truly inspiring.