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El-Erian Given Wooden Award

Published: March 17, 2014

El-Erian Given Wooden Leadership Award
On hand for the presentation of the 2014 Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award are (l-r) Greg Wooden, Mohamed El-Erian, Louise Ukleja, Michael Solt and Blake Christian, event chair.

The Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at CSULB presented its 2014 Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award to Mohamed El-Erian on Feb. 27.

El-Erian is the former CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, a global investment management firm with around $2 trillion of assets under management. Under his leadership, PIMCO safely navigated the unchartered waters that shocked financial markets in 2007-08, caused in part by financial institutions promoting questionable, if not unethical, investments.

The award is named for Nell and John Wooden to promote their practice of ethical leadership and to celebrate leaders who embody the Ukleja Center’s core values of integrity, excellence, empowerment and servant leadership. It is designed to honor a person or organization whose contribution is built on ethical behavior and visionary leadership.

John Wooden, who passed away at the age of 99 in 2010, received the center’s inaugural Ethics in Leadership Award in 2009. He is best known for his ability to instill confidence and transmit the values of his “Pyramid of Success” to the on-court behavior of his players.

The award presentation took place at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach during “Living Ethics Every Day,” a business ethics seminar offered by the Ukleja Center and Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Almost 500 people attended the seminar with El-Erian delivering a keynote presentation on “Unleashing the Transformative Power of Ethics in Finance.”

Presenting the award to El-Erian were Louise Ukleja, chair of the Ukleja Center’s advisory board, and Greg Wooden, grandson of Nell and John Wooden. “Mohamed El-Erian epitomizes the spirit of the Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award,” said Ukleja.

During the presentation, Wooden remarked, “My grandfather used to talk to me about the difference between reputation and character. Reputation is what people think of you. Character is who you really are. Clearly, Mohamed El-Erian is a person of outstanding character.”

El-Erian is a regular contributor to public debates through his writings, radio and television appearances, and newspaper interviews. His book, “When Markets Collide,” was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He was named to Foreign Policy’s list of “Top 100 Global Thinkers” each year from 2009-12.

El-Erian has served on several boards and committees, including the U.S. Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, International Center for Research on Women, and Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is currently a board member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Cambridge in America. In 2012, El-Erian was appointed chair of the President’s Global Development Council.

“We are honored to have had an opportunity to recognize Mohamed El-Erian’s positive leadership influence with this award,” said Michael Solt, director of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership and dean of CSULB’s College of Business Administration.

El-Erian is donating his $10,000 award to Intellectual Virtues Academy, a new charter middle school in Long Beach. The school’s mission is to foster meaningful growth in the character traits required for excellent thinking and lifelong learning—traits like curiosity, open-mindedness, and intellectual tenacity.

Solt added, “All of these traits resonate with Mohamed El-Erian’s values and leadership style. I’m sure his choice to give back to the community would have made Nell and John Wooden very happy.”

–Jane Roeder