May 22, 2009

BEVERLY HILLS -- Kenneth Chenault, American Express chairman and CEO, is the recipient of the second annual John Wooden Global Leadership Award. The award, presented by UCLA Anderson School of Management, goes to "an exceptional leader" for their "exemplary leadership style and service to the community." The John Wooden Global Leadership Award has as its namesake UCLA's legendary basketball coach John Wooden, himself a renowned author and expert on leadership.

Watch a video of the John Wooden Global Leadership Award Dinner (Windows Media)

The award was presented Thursday, May 21, 2009 at a gala celebration at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Highlighting the event were a pair of unscripted discussions. First, Coach Wooden chatted with Fortune magazine's managing editor Andy Serwer and the journalist jumped right in with a reference to the troubled economy, asking the coach how he dealt with adversity, while noting that UCLA didn't have many losing streaks during his tenure. "It's a lot easier being a leader when things are going well, (but) it's through adversity that one gets stronger," Wooden responded. "You don't show your followers that you're down ... You have to give the positive attitude to those under your supervision, otherwise, if everybody gets down, you might as well quit."

Chenault then joined Serwer and Wooden on stage and Serwer asked Chenault about his impressions of Wooden growing up, when the honoree was playing high school ball and following Wooden's Bruin teams from afar. "Coach Wooden was, and is, an icon and UCLA was winning a lot of championships," he said, turning to address Wooden directly. "But what impressed me and had an impact on me, Coach, was how you really just sat, composed, with your program, and there were no histrionics. And the impression that it left on me was that this person has it all together. He's totally prepared and that poise and composure under pressure (had) an incredible impact on me."

"And as I told a reporter from UCLA earlier today, to be an outstanding leader, particularly in a crisis, you must demonstrate composure at all times."

After the round table, Dean Olian returned to the podium to formally present the John Wooden Global Leadership Award and to describe what the associated John Wooden Global Leadership Program at UCLA Anderson means to the school.

"One of our goals at UCLA Anderson is to provide our students opportunities for skills-based learning, in addition to the analytical frameworks and tools they learn," Olian said. "Consistent with Coach Wooden's principles, our students are exposed to and immersed in learning opportunities about ethical decision-making, teamwork, and values-based leadership and they then put these principles in action outside the classroom, whether working in companies or non-profits, or volunteering in (Los Angeles') underprivileged schools or in Africa."

"What we are aiming for, through many forms of learning opportunities, is to inculcate among our students a respect for the complexity of leading in a global environment, the awesome and daunting responsibilities that come with leadership - the obligations to people, communities, and a code of ethics that can be admired. That's what John Wooden stands for, that's our role model for the leadership program in his name." Olian then introduced Anderson students Dana Taylor and Shahrouz Goldshani, recipients of the John Wooden Global Leadership Fellowships and members of the full-time and fully-employed classes of 2010, respectively.

Olian then presented the award to Chenault, saying "The challenges we face today as a country are unprecedented. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary leaders. These extraordinary times are also a call for different leadership, leadership that is more circumspect, transparent, self-controlling, and consultative. Leadership that no longer succumbs to the short term at the expense of building for lasting good, that acts only in self-interest, or that nurtures perverse reward systems. That breed of leadership must be a thing of the past, and you wouldn't find any of those behaviors on Coach Wooden's pyramid of success. Ken Chenault is a leader in the tradition of Coach John Wooden." Chenault followed her to the podium where he accepted the honor.

"This has been a very rewarding day for me. At UCLA Anderson, I really enjoyed meeting with the faculty and students and the alumni. And I think what is important, as we all know, these are incredible times for all of us. I have said to people, both inside and outside the company, this is probably the most challenging environment that I have ever operated in. But it is an environment that in fact, I believe, presents not only challenges but a range of opportunities. Because to succeed in a crisis, you have to innovate, you have to be creative, you have to have resolve, and you have to have a core set of values. So I really believe in the opportunities that we have in business. I believe that it is critical that corporations understand that they exist because society allows us to exist."

"And let me be very clear - competitively, I want to win every day. But I want to win the right way, and I do want our company and I want our people to feel proud about where they work and about what they contribute, and the difference that they can make in our society. So I am very, very honored, very privileged, to have this opportunity to receive this honor."

About UCLA Anderson School of Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management, established in 1935, is regarded among the leading business schools in the world. UCLA Anderson faculty members are renowned for their teaching excellence and research in advancing management thinking. Each year, UCLA Anderson provides management education to more than 1,700 students enrolled in MBA, Executive MBA, Fully-Employed MBA and doctoral programs, and to more than 2,000 professional managers through executive education programs. Combining highly selective admissions, varied and innovative learning programs, and a world-wide network of 36,000 alumni, UCLA Anderson develops and prepares global leaders.

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