Good morning and welcome to Webster University’s School of Business and Technology’s 2006 President Award. In recent past we have honored such corporate luminaries like Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart; Andy Taylor, CEO of Enterprise Rent-A-Car; and Ed Whitacre, Chairman of AT&T. Today we continue our annual tradition.
I had the pleasure recently of meeting a young man at one of our sister institutions in Saint Louis. He is pursuing his medicine degree and while he is already an accomplished scholar with a bright, promising future ahead of him the thing that struck me the most about him was his name: Weiser Cordero. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Weiser’s parents were so enamored with the beer that is produced by the number one brewer in the world—Anheuser-Busch —that they actually named their only son after the product. Now that’s brand loyalty...
I share this story with you to underscore the significant and far-reaching impact of one of the world’s most well-known and much-beloved brands. Today we honor the gentleman that has been in the forefront of leading the growth and the transformation of Anheuser-Busch.
August A. Busch IV began his career at Anheuser-Busch more than 20 years ago. In his two decades with the company he has acquired experience in every discipline of the business—brewing, packaging, shipping, marketing, business planning and management.
In 2002, Mr. Busch was named president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and in this capacity he oversees the company’s U.S. beer operations with responsibility for marketing, production, quality and financial performance.
In his role as president, August oversaw the launch of a number of innovative new products and packages, including Michelob Ultra, Budweiser Select, B e, and the introduction of aluminum bottles and applied plastic labels, just to mention a few. He has orchestrated significant initiatives which have improved brewery asset utilization and enhanced the effectiveness of the selling process. Through his leadership the company has grown to nearly a 50 percent market share.
His accomplishments have brought him significant recognition, including USA Today’s top-rated Super Bowl advertising award eight years in a row, the Grand CLIO award for the Budweiser “Whassup?! Commercial.” In 1999 he was named Corporate Marketing Executive of the year by the Delaney Report. In 2000, Mr. Busch was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement and in 2001 he was honored as the Advertiser of the Year.
August Busch earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA degree from Saint Louis University. He holds a degree in international brewing from the International Brewing Institute in Berlin, Germany. He currently serves on the Strategy Committee for Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., and is a board member of FedEx Corporation.
Since the company’s founding 154 years ago, Anheuser-Busch has become an iconic mainstay in the life and livelihood of millions of Americans—as much a part of our country as baseball and apple pie. This position was built on the innovative development of great products and sustained through the recruitment and retention of ordinary hardworking people who have in turn generated extraordinary results day in day out.
But in today’s uncertain and ever-changing world, good ideas and good people only count for so much because success or failure is just as likely to be determined by factors that are beyond a company’s control.
Businesses today operate in a world in which they are buffeted by powerful external influences—from the shifting sands of global competition to divergent consumer demand, to precarious political climates and, as we’ve seen in recent times, the whims of mother nature... We live in a world where the certainty of uncertainty permeates every aspect of business creating situations that corporate leaders can neither predict nor control.
Amidst all of this, you have shining stars like August Busch IV, a leader who has the youthful vigor, the capacity of effective strategic anticipation, and the keen ability to identify early warning signals. He sees fresh connections among seemingly unrelated events and is able to find the needles of decisive variables among the haystacks of insignificant ones. He has the instinctual fortitude to respond in real time and make smart decisions and he has done it over and over again.
August has demonstrated on a consistent basis that there is a clear difference between leaders who merely react to situations and those who have the capacity to transcend them. He understands that leadership demands that you give people what they need before they even realize that they need it.
August Busch has been successful because he possesses a sixth sense of the marketplace. He has the whit and the quick execution of a seasoned CEO and the effective application and decisiveness of a maverick. Drawing on these exceptional qualities and others, August Busch has maintained the resonance of true leadership in his tenure as president of Anheuser-Busch by invigorating the core business of A-B. Recognizing that a solid core will enable A-B to stay in the game long enough to seize golden opportunities when they arrive. He has indeed arrived and if you are searching for evidence you will find it in the words of those whom he leads.
They refer to him as a force of nature, hungry, humble and flexible, patient but opportunistic, attentive to stakeholders, the intellectual architect of the present and future of an industry, a quick to market executor, and an inspiration for the A-B team challenging them to run it like they own it. He has energized the worldwide business and inspired the transformation of the total alcoholic beverage industry.
I believe that relatively few corporate leaders today are able to assume the challenge of leadership. Only a small number of CEO’s recognize the enabling power of vision, and while some can identify a future for their organization only a handful of executives are able to see around corners and discern a beacon of hope toward which they can lead their company into the light of day where the ever-illusive mantra called success awaits them, for those who are not content with just being good and who are willing to reach for greatness – they are able to position their company to own the future.
August has the visual lens to see the future thereby giving credence to the saying that the future belongs to those who can see it.
August Busch IV is an enormously talented and gifted leader, a future superstar in our midst. That is why we recognize him today, April 4, 2006 as our 2006 President of the Year because he is unrelenting in his pursuit of success and, passionately in search of significance. So please join me in giving a warm Webster welcome to our honored guest, the president of Anheuser-Busch Incorporated, August A. Busch IV.
"Find meaning in every conversation - It's not how long the conversation lasts; it's how good it is. "
- Dr. Benjamin Akande
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