Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, has received numerous accolades during his 40-plus-year career. Tonight he added one more, one named after a man he grew up admiring. "It means so much to me to receive the John Wooden Award because it’s named after a man who believed that doing well is doing right," he said.
Iger was speaking to a sold-out crowd at this year’s John Wooden Global Leadership Award Program, presented annually by UCLA Anderson. The award is given for exemplary leadership and service to the community, values that echo those of legendary Coach Wooden. Iger’s exceptional leadership has led Disney to record performance and shareholder value, all while focusing on creativity, innovative technology and global growth.
Referring to John Wooden's famed ideals, UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian said, "Coach Wooden would be very proud. Bob is the pyramid of success," she said.
The evening included a discussion between Iger and ABC News Correspondent Cecilia Vega and covered a wide range of topics from how a legacy brand remains relevant in a quickly changing world, to the importance of failure and second chances, to principles of leadership. The exchange gave everyone in the room a window into how a CEO leads with integrity and success, according to Olian.
Past recipients of the John Wooden Global Leadership Award include Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo (2012), Peter Ueberroth, managing director of Contrarian Group (2011), Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx (2010), Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express (2009), and Howard Schultz, chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks (2008).
Proceeds from the dinner fund two $25,000 John Wooden Leadership Fellowships, given to deserving UCLA Anderson students based on their exceptional leadership, academic merit and financial need. This year’s recipients are Elliot Ling (MBA ’14) and Jordanna Mora (FEMBA ’15).
Ling has spent the last eight years working on initiatives that benefit youth, particularly in low-income communities. Most recently, Elliot served as director of youth development for Servant Partners, a humanitarian organization dedicated to transforming disadvantaged urban communities. But it was the simple, generous act of helping out a neighbor that has made the biggest change in Ling’s life. He and his wife welcomed Justin, a 16-year-old dropout, into their home after his family lost theirs following his step-father’s death. Over the course of a year, they helped the young man graduate from high school and build a new future.
“I’m excited about the possibility of doing good through social enterprise and education reform, but the specifics of my story are still unfolding. This, however, I know: my time at Anderson has afforded resources and tools that few in this world have the opportunity to possess,” Ling said in his acceptance remarks. “When I leave Anderson in June, I will leave newly empowered and freshly inspired to make a difference in my community and others like it.”
Mora is a licensed and board-certified genetic counselor with entrepreneurial drive and a commitment to service. While pursuing her degree, she works at Integrated Genetics and provides complex prenatal and preconception consultation for high-risk patients. In addition, she consults with biotechnology companies on communication strategies to help them better connect with the patients they serve.
At tonight’s event, Mora said the lessons she learned from her mom, a single mother who worked numerous jobs, were similar to those espoused by Coach Wooden. “My mother always told me that as a family, my mother, sister and I were a team and that very little is accomplished on one’s own,” she said. “Although there were numerous obstacles growing up, she shared, and still shares, John Wooden’s belief that true greatness is achievable by anyone as long as your values are consistent with being a great person.”
Past fellowship recipients include Aviva Altmann (MBA '13), Juan Rose (EMBA '13), Karla Sarni (FEMBA '13), Valerie Sun (FEMBA '13), Russell Altenburg (MBA '12), Archana Rajan (EMBA '11), Joanna Schochet (MBA '11), Shahrouz Golshani (FEMBA '11), Dana Taylor (MBA '10), Andrea Swanson (FEMBA '09) and Christopher Schnakenberg (MBA '09).