The Most Powerful African American CEOs

posted by Chris Valentine

African Americans are leading the world of business across the nation nowadays. Clarence Otis recently stepped down from his position at Darden Restaurants, where he was CEO and Chairman. Darden Restaurants owns some of the nation’s largest brands, including The Capital Grille and Olive Garden. In 2013, their gross earnings were $8.5 billion. Otis stepping down after a decade of holding the position rocked the world. One of the reasons why it upset so many people, however, is because he is an African American and this means that the percentage of top positions in publicly traded companies of African Americans in this country has been significantly reduced. That said, there are many other African Americans as well, and placing a focus on them now seems of national importance. Not counting President Obama, let’s take a look at some of the most powerful black leaders in this country.


Kenneth Frazier

Kenneth Frazier is Chairman and CEO of Merck. In 2013, his company grossed $44 billion. It develops vaccines, prescription drugs, health products, and therapies that help improve the lives of people in over 140 countries worldwide. With 76,000 global employees, it is the third largest drug manufacturing company in the country. It is also part of some 1,300 other joint ventures in Brazil and China. Yearly, it spends some $7.5 billion on research and development, focusing specifically on diseases like hepatitis, diabetes, and cancer.

Roger W. Ferguson Jr.

Ferguson is the President and CEO of TIAA-CREF, a huge complex of financial services, where he leads its strategic direction. The company has its fingers in many different pies, including the retirement plans for well over 15,000 nonprofit institutions, research centers, universities, and colleges. This leviathan in the financial industry grossed some $33.8 billion in 2013. Ferguson, meanwhile, is a true industry veteran, serving on the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors as vice chairman. In this position, he also held the Federal Open Market Committee’s voting membership. Plus, he is a member of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, set up by President Obama.

Charles Phillips

Charles Phillips is Infor’s CEO. Previous to this, he was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, and President of Oracle. For Charles Phillips Oracle was an opportunity to fine tune his skills in business software applications and in acquisitions. Since joining Infor, he has moved its headquarters, made several high profile acquisitions, increased its customer database and its design team, and more. In fact, Infor is now the third largest company of its kind, and it is set to take over Oracle and SAP, who currently hold the top two positions.

Kenneth I. Chenault

Chenault is the Chairman and CEO of American Express. He has worked in this position for some 13 years, leading the company to a gross annual revenue of $35 billion. American Express works with both corporations and consumers all over the world. Chenault has been at the head of this company, while also counseling various U.S. Presidents, both during nation shattering crises and flush times alike.

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