On Friday, January 27th, Inside Memphis Business celebrated our annual CEO of the Year Awards issue with a breakfast ceremony at Memphis Botanic Garden. More than 150 guests were on hand to network and honor the four honorees of 2017: Ned Canty, Opera Memphis; Stacy McCall, ServiceMaster by Stratos; Debbie Eddlestone, Stern Cardiovascular Foundation; and Bryan Jordan, First Horizon.
The morning was kicked off with a welcome by IMB editor Richard Alley and publisher Ken Neill, who introduced Anthony Clark of DHG, the ongoing presenting sponsor of the CEO of the Year Awards, who gave a warm congratulatory speech. Next up was Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and last year’s winner in the 1,000-plus employees category. He spoke of servant leadership and supporting those around you, of passion and how loving what you do can lead to effective leadership. Danny Thomas — St. Jude's founder — was saluted with a brief video tribute, which included a statement Thomas made on the day the hospital opened in 1962: “If I were to die this very minute, I'd know why I was born.”
For the CEO of the Year Awards, we solicited nominations from the public and, through a deliberate process, an impartial panel honed that list down by company size based on number of employees. Once finalists were selected for each category, the committee had an even more difficult time of selecting one winner for each category. This is a good problem to have. Memphis is graced with tremendously talented, inspiring executives leading our companies and organizations.
We encourage you to consider your own nominations and send them in throughout the year for the 2018 CEO of the Year issue.
This year’s winners:
Ned Canty, Opera Memphis (1 to 50 employees)
Ned was acutely aware from the beginning of his tenure with Opera Memphis nearly six years ago that the artistic part is why the organization exists, but that the majority of the job he was undertaking would be the CEO part. “Thinking strategically about the company and trying to make sure we’re flexible and strong enough to grow but also weather whatever kinds of changes and tsunamis might happen,” he said would be the focus of the work at hand. More than merely weathering the inevitable changes, Ned has rolled with them and embraced them with everything from innovative guerrilla marketing tactics to a newfound mobility, and has seen Opera Memphis — and opera itself — grow and flourish in the city. This success has garnered a couple of generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as much-deserved national attention.
Stacy McCall, ServiceMaster by Stratos (50 to 200 employees)
Servicemaster by Stratos strives to reach a standard in the contract janitorial service industry that is somewhere in the topmost level of the atmosphere — the stratosphere, hence the company’s name. By all accounts, CEO Stacy McCall has hit that level. And yet she continues to aim high through the mission of her company and service in the community. Stacy is hands-on and has gone through everything that any employee she hires is expected to do. Because of this, she has a deep understanding of those employees and the clients they serve. The most important part of her industry’s name — contract janitorial service — is the “service,” and attention to that at such a high level, as well as the empathy for the personal and professional issues of her people, is what has landed her on our list.
Debbie Eddlestone, Stern Cardiovascular Foundation (200 to 1,000 employees)
Debbie came to Stern Cardiovascular Foundation in 1990 to overhaul the business operation. This herculean task would require negotiating the labyrinth that was the digitalization of medical records, a field that was constantly evolving and wholly uncertain at the time. Her task would go on to create partnerships and mergers with other leading healthcare organizations such as Baptist Memorial Medical Group to make Stern one of the largest and most comprehensive cardiology group practices in the region. As technology continues to advance and policy such as the Affordable Care Act continues to evolve, Debbie’s work will undoubtedly be even more complex and more important to Memphis and the Mid-South in years to come.
Bryan Jordan, First Horizon (1,000+ employees)
In business, timing is everything. Bryan Jordan knows this. He took the reins of First Horizon — the parent company of First Tennessee Bank and FTN Financial — just a week before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed in 2008. But he persevered and kept his eye on the horizon and today he stands at the helm of a $28.3 billion-asset company, one of the 40 largest banking companies in the country in asset size and market capitalization. Profits have been at or near record levels and its stock price climbed 38 percent in 2016, making its biggest splash when it bought a chunk of GE Capital's restaurant franchise loan business, instantly adding nearly $540 million of high-yielding loans to its portfolio. A lot has changed since 2008, and Bryan has maintained his course, making great strides for his company and its people.
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