In July, more than 200 CEOs gathered at the New York Stock Exchange to honor Ford Motor Company’s CEO, Alan Mulally as Chief Executive magazine’s CEO of the Year. Mulally was the 26th CEO to receive the award, joining the ranks of such luminaries as Microsoft’s Bill Gates, GE’s Jack Welch and Intel’s Andy Grove. Chosen for the honor by a panel of CEO peers, Mulally stood out among the year’s final contenders for achieving a seemingly insurmountable challenge—bringing the American icon back from the brink of bankruptcy, noted Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto and outgoing CEO of the Year, in presenting the award.
Grant echoed the thoughts of many in the crowd that night when he praised Alan Mulally for “using adversity in tough times as a springboard for innovation” and “balancing the needs of owners, employees, customers and stakeholders at large.”
NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer also called out Mulally’s pursuit of innovation in the face of both a precarious financial situation internally and global economic uncertainty—conditions that might well have sent others running for the hills. Ford could have acted like a car company and simply introduced a new car, he said, “but Alan said, ‘We’re more than a car company, we’re a technology company.’”
In receiving the honor, Mulally noted that he was accepting the recognition on behalf of everyone at Ford Motor Company. He went on to acknowledge that the business community continues to face a challenging environment, but urged today’s leaders to persevere. “There has never been a time in history when CEOs were needed more than today,” said Mulally. “Leadership is so important and so needed in so many areas—economic development, energy independence and security, environmental sustainability. It’s an honor to be here tonight and to serve with the CEOs who continue to provide economic growth, great opportunities and great careers.”