UCLA Anderson School of Management Honors Merck Executive Chairman of the Board and Former CEO Ken Frazier

UCLA Anderson School of Management Honors Merck Executive Chairman of the Board and Former CEO Ken Frazier

The annual John Wooden Global Leadership Award recognizes exceptional business leaders who exemplify Coach Wooden’s values

Los Angeles (April 7, 2022) — UCLA Anderson School of Management on Thursday, March 31, honored Kenneth C. Frazier, executive chairman of the board and former CEO of Merck, with the 2021 John Wooden Global Leadership Award. The award was presented at a gala dinner at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

First presented in 2008, the award is named for legendary UCLA basketball coach, author and leadership expert John Wooden (1910–2010). It is given each year to an exceptional business leader whose leadership style and service to the community reflect the high standards of performance, integrity and ethical values for which Wooden was known. The recognition was last bestowed in 2019 to Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments. Because of the pandemic, the award was not presented in 2020.

Frazier was chosen as this year’s Wooden Award recipient in recognition of his business leadership, his philanthropy, his focus on innovation and his commitment to promoting racial and economic equity.

“Ken Frazier has epitomized ethical and visionary leadership throughout his career,” UCLA Anderson Dean Antonio Bernardo said. “He has encouraged innovation and is a passionate champion for social justice, racial equality and financial inclusion. His emphasis on values-based leadership personifies the qualities of the John Wooden Global Leadership Award.”

“We know Coach Wooden would be so proud of the two CEO icons here with us tonight — Ken Frazier who is our honoree, and Ken Chenault, who is a past honoree,” said Caroline Nahas, (B.A. ’70), Korn Ferry senior advisor and chair of the UCLA Anderson Board of Advisors. “They exemplify the values-based leadership that Coach stood for, both on and off the court.”

At Thursday’s banquet, Chenault, who is chairman and managing director of the venture capital firm General Catalyst, and former CEO and chairman of American Express, engaged Frazier in an on-stage conversation about leadership, values and the Wooden legacy. As the conversation began, Frazier noted how special it was to be in the same company as past John Wooden Global Leadership Award winners, including Chenault, who received the award in 2009.

Chenault asked Frazier about his widely-quoted idea that a corporation should have a soul. “How can a company have a soul?” Frazier asked in response. “There are two elements. The first element is purpose. Every company has a purpose: to serve society in its own unique way. These companies should be more than just vehicles for wealth creation.”

His own company, he said, “exists to alleviate human suffering around the world. And the people who come to work every day really believe in that. The second element is conscience — do the company’s strategies and behaviors align with its stated values?”

In accepting the award, Frazier added, “I think the most important thing for a leader is that they really believe in the core values of the company. Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for the company, not just for the short term but for the long term.”

“It all comes back to Coach Wooden,” Frazier said. “He taught people to care about others. It wasn’t about winning, it was about teaching people how to maximize the value of their lives.”

The program began with a tribute to John Wooden, which featured a trio of UCLA basketball Hall of Famers: Keith Erickson and Jamaal Wilkes (B.A. ’74), who played for Coach Wooden, and Ann Meyers Drysdale (B.A. ’79), who played for the Bruins women’s team and whose brother David played for Coach Wooden.

“Friendship and loyalty, respect and esteem — he didn’t just say it, he lived it,” said Erickson. “John Wooden coached more than 200 players and he called us ‘his boys.’ We could not have had a better friend, a living example of his Pyramid of Success, during our formative years.”

The tributes were followed by a video montage that underlined Coach Wooden’s stature as a cultural icon, showing fictional characters from television shows like Billions and Ted Lasso, along with real-life coaches, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and the Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay, and all referencing Wooden. In accepting the trophy after the Rams Super Bowl win in February, for example, McVay quoted a key tenet of the pyramid: “Be at your best when your best is needed — competitive greatness,” he said.

Kenneth C. Frazier serves as executive chairman of Merck’s board of directors, a role he began in July 2021 following his retirement from a decade-long tenure as Merck’s president and chief executive officer.

Under his leadership, Merck delivered innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines, as well as long-term sustainable value to the company’s multiple stakeholders. Frazier substantially increased Merck’s investment in research, including early research, while refocusing the organization on the launch and growth of key products that provide far-reaching benefits to society. He also led the formation of philanthropic and humanitarian initiatives that built on Merck’s 130-year legacy.

Frazier’s contributions, particularly in the legal, business and humanitarian fields, have been widely recognized. He sits on numerous boards and is co-founder and co-chair of OneTen, a coalition of leading organizations committed to upskilling, hiring and promoting one million Black Americans into family-sustaining jobs. OneTen is committed to facilitating a meaningful, measurable, and lasting impact on racial and economic justice.

As a strong advocate for social justice and economic inclusion, Frazier is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders” by Fortune magazine, as well as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

In a 2018 interview with Harvard Business Review, Frazier remarked on the relationship between doing good business and doing good in the community. “While a fundamental responsibility of business leaders is to create value for shareholders, I think businesses also exist to deliver value to society,” he said.

Previous John Wooden Global Leadership honorees include: Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president, Ariel Investments; Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO, Netflix; W. James (Jim) McNerney Jr., retired chairman, president and CEO, The Boeing Company; Ursula Burns, former chairman and CEO, Xerox; Paul E. Jacobs, former executive chairman, Qualcomm; Robert Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company; Indra Nooyi, former CEO, PepsiCo; Peter Ueberroth, managing director, Contrarian Group, and president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee; Frederick Smith, president and CEO, FedEx; Kenneth Chenault, former chairman and CEO, American Express Company; and Howard Schultz, former chairman and CEO, Starbucks.

Net proceeds from the annual event support fellowships for UCLA Anderson students who embody Coach Wooden’s leadership ideals and commitment to improving the lives of others. Each of the four 2021 John Wooden Global Leadership Fellows will receive a $35,000 fellowship:

• Uzair Alaidroos (FEMBA ’23)
• Bianca Judy Choe (FEMBA ’22)
• Jasson D. Crockett (EMBA ’22)
• Miranda Fang (’22)

About the John Wooden Global Leadership Award

As the most successful coach in U.S. men’s college basketball history, John Wooden left a legacy of leadership that transcends athletics and spans generations. As a coach, prolific author and inspiring speaker, he dedicated his life to motivating people to achieve their highest potential. Wooden instilled in others a sense of pride, a commitment to ethics and a respect for teamwork. UCLA Anderson extends these fundamental principles and Wooden’s famous Pyramid of Success into the classroom through the Wooden Global Leadership Program. Learn more about the John Wooden Global Leadership Award, fellowships and UCLA Anderson School of Management: https://bit.ly/2DFMAU4

About UCLA Anderson School of Management

UCLA Anderson School of Management is among the leading business schools in the world, with faculty members globally renowned for their teaching excellence and research in advancing management thinking. Located in Los Angeles, gateway to the growing economies of Latin America and Asia and a city that personifies innovation in a diverse range of endeavors, UCLA Anderson’s MBA, Fully Employed MBA, Executive MBA, UCLA-NUS Executive MBA, Master of Financial Engineering, Master of Science in Business Analytics, doctoral and executive education programs embody the school’s Think in the Next ethos. Annually, some 1,800 students are trained to be global leaders seeking the business models and community solutions of tomorrow.

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