Kellogg honors FedEx CEO Fred Smith as ‘Distinguished Leader’By Aubrey Henretty
5/30/2008 - The Kellogg Business Leadership Club and the Office of the Dean presented Fred Smith — the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of FedEx — with the 2008 Kellogg Award for Distinguished Leadership on May 29. The event was held in the Donald P. Jacobs Center.
Kellogg Dean Dipak C. Jain noted in his opening remarks at the ceremony that, like Dean Emeritus Donald Jacobs, in whose honor the award was established in 2002, Smith “believes in team spirit” but still has the heart and ambition of an entrepreneur.
“More than three decades ago, Fred Smith had a dream of shipping things faster,” said Ben Hockenberg ’08, the student who nominated Smith for the award. Under Smith’s leadership, he added, FedEx has become ubiquitous: “It connects 90 percent of the world’s GDP in one to three business days.”
The Business Leadership Club’s Web site identifies the award’s three main objectives: to “reinforce the importance of leadership at Kellogg and generate dialogue and reflection throughout the Kellogg community, honor a person whose leadership is consistent with the ideals of the Kellogg School of Management, and build relationships between Kellogg and leaders of business and society.” As an honoree, Smith succeeds such luminaries as entrepreneur and Tribune Company owner Samuel Zell (2007), Northwestern Memorial HealthCare President and CEO Gary Mecklenburg (2006) and investment “oracle” Warren Buffett (2004).
“FedEx is a very large enterprise today,” Smith said after accepting the award. He went on to describe how the company earns its $40 billion in revenues. With 5,000 manned locations worldwide, a fleet of 700 airplanes and about 80,000 trucks at the company’s disposal, Smith said, “We move a lot of things.”
A former U.S. Marine, Smith serves on several boards of directors, including the board for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.