WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Business is one of the most powerful forces of good on the planet, according to Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman and former CEO of Carlson, a global group of integrated travel and hospitality companies including Radisson Hotels, Country Inns & Suites, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and T.G.I. Fridays.
Carlson Nelson came to Wake Forest University Schools of Business to present “How We Lead Matters: Reflections of a Life of Leadership.” Her discussion shares the title with her bestselling book and was part of the Leading Out Loud Broyhill Executive Lecture Series and served as the keynote address for the 21st Annual Wake Forest Marketing Summit.
She said business fulfills needs, stimulates innovation, gets different cultures working together, and funds philanthropic causes. She is a second-generation business owner and feels “extraordinary stewardship because my role in our company will be judged by my grandchildren.”
Carlson Nelson blamed the recent financial scandals on a “lack of stewardship,” saying “It's shameful, it's destructive, and its wrong, but it has created for all of us an extraordinary opportunity.”
That opportunity, according to Carlson Nelson is to “force a conversation and create dialogue about how we lead a responsible business and create shared values. I believe this conversation has the potential to be transformative not just for business, but for society as a whole,” she said. “Each of us has a name and each of us makes decisions in our lives, not just in our workplaces, in our homes and in our communities.”
In closing, Carlson Nelson shared a painful, personal story about her daughter dying in a car accident at age 19. She said that loss made her strive to live each day as if it would be her last.
Dean of Business Steve Reinemund thanked Carlson Nelson, saying “she has touched people throughout the world with her thoughtful and impactful leadership. “
Carlson Nelson has appeared on Forbes magazine's list of “The World's 100 Most Powerful Women” and was named one of “Americas Best Leaders” in 2006 by U.S. News and World Report.
Leading out Loud is a Wake Forest University Schools of Business lecture series created to educate and inspire business students through exposure to industry leaders shaping today's business world. This series is made possible by the generous support of the Broyhill Family Foundation of Lenoir, NC.