UCLA Anderson School of Management honored The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert Iger with the 2013 John Wooden Global Leadership Award at a gala celebration on Nov. 21, 2013, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. The annual award recognizes an exceptional leader for his or her exemplary leadership style and service to the community. The John Wooden Global Leadership Award carries the namesake of UCLA’s legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, who was a renowned author and expert on leadership.
Iger was selected as this year’s award winner for his success in shaping Disney as an industry leader in offering creative content across new platforms and expanding the company’s presence in several emerging markets. Under his direction, the company has been recognized as one of ™America’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine, one of the ™World’s Most Respected Companies by Barron’s and one of the ™Best Places to Launch a Career by Bloomberg Businessweek.
Focusing on creativity, innovative technology and global growth, Iger has led Disney to record performance and shareholder value. He’s also built on the company’s rich legacy of unforgettable storytelling with the successful acquisition of Pixar in 2006, Marvel in 2009 and, most recently, Lucasfilm and the incredible Star Wars franchise in 2012.
“One person can’t run a company as big as ours,” said Iger. “It’s run by a team of people, and value is created by a very large team of people.”
The evening began with UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian distinguishing Iger as a “visionary who has taken Disney from a traditional entertainment brand and positioning it brilliantly for the 21st century on screen and television, online and in the cloud. Bob Iger leads in the tradition of John Wooden, putting his Pyramid of Success into practice in all matters of Disney business and activity. He has led Disney through enormous transformation, while enhancing its status as one of the most beloved brands in the world.”
In her opening remarks, Dean Olian also lauded the virtues of Coach Wooden and highlighted Anderson’s efforts to convey his principles to the students as they prepare for the responsibility of leadership in a global economy. Fellowships are awarded annually to those students who embody Coach Wooden’s values that focus on ethics, team spirit, skill, hard work, service and loyalty. This year, the dean recognized Elliot Ling, (MBA ’14) and Jordanna Mora (FEMBA ’15), each of whom received $25,000 in financial support as they work toward the completion of their respective MBA degrees.
The evening culminated with a discussion between ABC News Correspondent Cecilia Vega and Iger. The Disney leader touched on topics ranging from the risks of success (arrogance, bureaucracy), some of his early career failures, his daily routine (waking up at 4:30 a.m.) and the importance of respecting Disney’s heritage and legacy while innovating and adapting to changing markets. Iger also talked about the value of integrity, betting on creative people and instilling a sense of optimism among your team.
“Coach Wooden was never a box score,” said Iger. “He was not baskets, shots or rebounds – it was the team. He was just the coach.”