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Beginning in 1999, a handful of Black executives were appointed CEOs at some of the world’s top companies – including Ken Chenault at American Express, Dick Parsons at Time Warner, John Thompson at Symantec, Frank Raines at Fannie Mae, and eventually, Ursula Burns at Xerox. Together, they became the first group of Black executives ever to reach the CEO’s seat of publicly traded Fortune 100 powerhouses. I call them The Leadership Class. And now, given the stunning lack of racial equity that still plagues Corporate America, their voices and lessons are needed as much as ever.
Through the lessons they share, today’s executives will find examples to learn from and derive ways to correct the inequity that plagues the top of today’s corporations.
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The Book's Protagonists
AOL Time Warner
Richard “Dick” Parsons is a senior advisor of Providence Equity Partners, a former chairman of Citigroup, and the former chairman and CEO of AOL Time Warner, a role in which he oversaw the integration of what was then the largest merger in history.
Ursula Burns is the former CEO and Chairwoman of Xerox. When he assumed that role in 2009, she became the first Black woman to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Having joined Xerox shortly after college, she quickly established herself as a formidable leader, a reputation she carried into the C-suite and beyond. Burns is now known for her work on the boards of directors.
Ken Chenault is the former CEO and Chairman of American Express. One of Corporate America’s most respected leaders, he served as CEO for a remarkable 17 years until his retirement in 2018.
John Thompson is the former CEO of Symantec, a major software company focused on data security. After serving several years as a senior executive at IBM, Thompson became one of the first Black CEOs of a prominent Silicon Valley company. He went on to serve on the board of directors for Microsoft, eventually becoming Chairman. He is currently the independent Lead Director on Microsoft’s board.
Frank Raines became the first Black CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation in 1999, when he was appointed Chief of mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Before the historic appointment, Raines served as Budget Director for President Bill Clinton’s Administration. He was chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Association and remains an active investor in startup companies.
Remarkable Lessons From an Historic Group of Executives
This book is the first time closely held lessons from these seminal leaders are being shared publicly. Their remarkable stories, insights and perspectives are valuable tools for creating greater equity and generating improved performance across global businesses.
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Two-time Peter Lisagor Award winner for outstanding reporting and writing in the global magazine category (BusinessWeek magazine). Presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Roger’s article on Motorola and its CEO was awarded “Best profile of a publicly traded Midwestern company” by the Medill School of Journalism
Awarded by the New York Association of Black Journalists for coverage of the Black economy in BusinessWeek magazine.