Status Profile: A Special CEO

American Express Chairman and CEO, Kenneth Chenault is more than just your average New Yorker. Chenault happens to be one of only four Black CEO’s, of a Fortune 500 company. He grew up in Long Island, New York. His father Hortenius Chenault was a dentist and his mother Anne Quick was a dental hygienist.

Chenault earned a Bachelors of Arts degree at Bowdoin College in 1973 and a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard University Law School in 1976. After working for a law firm and a management consulting firm, he took a job with AMEX in 1981. In 1997, Chenault was appointed as the COO and President of AMEX. By 2001 he would become the Chairman and CEO.

Chenault demonstrated the extent of his leadership abilities following the September 11th attacks. The outcome of this tragedy lead to AMEX losing 11 employees and substantial damage to the headquarters building. The American Express company’s one-time thriving travel business slowed in the following years. AMEX responded by creating new offerings and targeting special markets such as small businesses.



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