L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner is just as enthusiastic about philanthropic endeavors as entrepreneurial endeavors—perhaps more so.
At December’s CEO2CEO Summit event, L Brands’ CEO Les Wexner was honored with Chief Executive’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his visionary business leadership. Wexner is something of a legend in the retail world, having created and grown a litany of successful retail ventures, including internationally recognized brands like Victoria’s Secret, The Limited, Lane Bryant, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bath & Body Works. Over a career spanning more than 50 years, he forged an $11.4 billion company that today operates 2,942 specialty stores in the U.S., Canada and the UK.
But while Wexner’s successful business track record is well documented, his considerable philanthropic endeavors are less known, says Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer, who was among those who gathered in New York to participate in the award ceremony. “His business accomplishments—among other things, his creation of a store that has resulted in multiple reinventions and ancillary spinoff enterprises—alone make him one of the greatest success stories of modern times,” notes Fischer. “What might be less obvious is that if there were an equivalent award for community leadership and philanthropy, or for development, master planning and architecture, he would also be the right choice. His greatest legacy beyond his family—in my opinion, actually greater than his business achievements—is the value structure that he’s brought, taught and instilled in our community.”
Wexner serves as chairman of the Columbus Partnership, a membership organization he founded in 2002 to foster local economic development and support civic projects. What began as eight CEOs meeting informally has grown to include 52 members who meet regularly to discuss community issues, economic development strategy and civic matters. “We have a motto: ‘We leave our selfish interests at the door and we bring our community interests to the table,’” explains Fischer. “Our member CEOs give back, invest, roll up their sleeves and do good in our community and that all stems from what Les started.”
Read more about Les Wexner:
The Man Who Changed How America Shops
On Character: A Look at Those With and Those Without