Blacks In Business Doing Big Things: 10 Of Our Most Successful CEOs And Entepreneurs
When big business America comes to mind, we think of every old moneymaking white face from Donald Trump to Bill Gates. After all, older white men dominating and creating businesses has been the norm in this country for eons. Luckily, though slowly, the business world has started to change, drawing women and minorities into the fold. The Fortune 500s are beginning to mention more Latinos, Asians and blacks as its CEOs, executives, and head advisors. Latinos, Asians and blacks are also making strides when it comes to creating and broadcasting businesses. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs alone have showcased the benefit of enterprising. With that in mind, it’s time that we give nods to some African-American CEOs and entrepreneurs who’ve been making strides in big businesses while we’ve been none-the-wiser.
KENNETH I. CHENAULT, AMERICAN EXPRESS
Since 2001, Chenault has been the CEO of American Express, constantly promoting its success, which is evident when he hosted the unprecedented revenue of $33.80 billion dollars in 2012. Chenault was born in New York and graduated from Harvard Law School. His yearly compensation at American Express is well into the multimillion dollar range.
URSULA M. BURNS, XEROX CORPORATION
The first female African-American CEO, Burns became the head of the Xerox Corporation in 2009. The multi-billion dollar company hired Burns on as an intern in 1981, and she was able to work her way up, and has been rated as one of the most powerful women in the world because of her hard work and tenacity.
DON THOMPSON, MCDONALD’S
The mega multi-billion dollar organization, responsible for feeding more than 46 million people daily, is headed by Don Thompson, an African-American man who grew up on the Southside of Chicago. Thompson joined McDonald’s in 1990, and twelve years later, he was named the CEO of McDonald’s, succeeding Jim Skinner.
ROBERT L. JOHNSON, THE RLJ COMPANIES
Johnson, the founder/former CEO of BET and former majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, is also the founder of RLJ Development. He’s the first African American billionaire to be listed on any of Forbes’ World’s Richest list and the first black American to be the principal owner of a North American major-league sports franchise. The RLJ Companies consist of businesses that offer and sell financial services, real estate, hospitality, professional sports, film production, automotive services and gaming.
EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON, MAGIC JOHNSON ENTERPRISES
Johnson is well known for a number of things, mainly for his retired role as an NBA legend and as a man who has happily beat HIV after all these years, but he is also known for his business sense. The giant, financial and otherwise, owns a series of movie theaters, restaurants, and health clubs across the country. He’s also expanded to real estate development, and recently dropped $50 million on the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His net worth is currently $700 million.
ULYSSES “JUNIOR” BRIDGEMAN, BRIDGEMAN FOODS INC.
The former NBA star, who spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, found second success with the development of Bridgeman Foods, LLC, one of the largest restaurateurs in the nation. The corporation owns and operates over 300 restaurants, including 163 Wendy’s and 120 Chili’s.
JIM REYNOLDS, LOOP CAPITAL
Reynolds is the co-founder and CEO of Loop Capital, a Chicago-based investment banking and brokerage firm that is the sixth largest municipal underwriter in the country. Reynolds has worked in the financial service industry for more than 21 years, and led sales at Merrill Lynch and PaineWebber. Loop Capital is the largest minority-owned financial service firm and one of largest privately-held investment banks in America.
CLARENCE OTIS, JR., DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC.
Otis was named the CEO of Darden Restaurants in 2004, which owns and operates several casual dining chains, including, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and plenty of others. Otis was recruited by Darden in 1995, and last time we checked, earned a total compensation of $7,656,703 in 2010.
MICHAEL LEE-CHIN, AIC LIMITED AND NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK OF JAMAICA
The half-Chinese, Jamaican-born Canadian businessman is the founder and chairman of Portland Holdings, a privately held investment company. He is also the Executive Chairman of AIC Limited as well as the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. Chin’s assets worth is around $1.0 billion.
JENNEFER WITTER, THE BORELAND GROUP INC.
Witter is the President of the boutique PR firm, The Boreland Group, located in NYC. She is an industry veteran with 28-years of experience under her belt, using that expert knowledge on behalf of her clients, meeting their changing needs. The former Ketchum VP once helped to manage public profiles of FedEx, IBM Microelectronics, PMC Sierra, JP Morgan Chase, and AC Nielsen; and she initiated a corporate technology sub-practice which generated a million dollars in revenue its first year.