By Lynn Jones – I recently had the opportunity to interview Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. Arnold Donald is a man of stature, sincerity and success. Walking into Carnival Corporation Headquarters located in Doral, Florida, you are greeted by employees that present the impression of crew members on a Carnival “fun ship” cruise.
The first step was securing a day/date/time to pin Mr. Donald down, as he graciously zips in and out of meetings with Carnival executives around the world. The next step is to speak with his team: the “right hand man,” the “wing man,” the marketing department and the entire team. Arnold’s crew interviewed the interviewer! Before my appointment was set, I was familiar with Carnival Corporations extensive history of cruise ships that sail around the world. Carnival Corporation is branded around the world and is listed on the NASDAQ as CCL, currently selling shares at $51.10 per share.
Donald took over Carnival Corporation in 2013 when Micky Arison, the son of Carnival Corp.’s founder and the CEO since 1979, stepped aside.
Born and raised in New Orleans, his early education was rendered at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, an all-boys, all-African-American Catholic school. He recalled this inspirational mantra from his teachers, “Three times a day, they would say, ‘Gentlemen, prepare yourselves, you’re going to run the world’ ”.
Growing up in the late 60’s and 70 he was a product of the civil rights movement and was determined to not be deterred by his plans to complete his destiny. He graduated from Washington University and began his corporate career climb at Monsanto, a publicly traded American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Greater St. Louis, Missouri, he soon rose through the ranks and became known for his leadership style and his easy and quick demeanor to get the job done.
After pondering the thought of becoming Carnivals next CEO; Arnold was not necessarily thinking of a ‘takeover’ his mind was more on a “makeover”. ‘How do we make Carnival over?’ was the question. Arnold won over the staff and began transitioning his team focusing on three words “Collaborate, Communicate and Coordinate”.
Arnold took the approach to merge the company’s business styles and create team buildings and retreats that made connections. In the first full year under Arnold’s leadership, Carnival Corporation saw significant earnings improvement, including a full-year 2014 net profit of $1.5 billion, according to Carnival officials. The company finished its 2014 fiscal year with a strong fourth quarter, exceeding guidance even before factoring in the benefits of lower fuels and leading to 2014 full year cash from operations of nearly $3.5 billion.
Arnold went into Carnival piecing together a puzzle on why the company was stagnant, while integrating worldwide synergy to clients, customers, staff and travel agents. Donald now steers the world’s largest cruise line with 120,000 employees and 100 ships for the 10.5 million passengers who cruise with Carnival each year.
Not only talking the talk, he walks the walk.
His office has a wall designed as porthole frames that guise as a steering wheel on a ship with portholes of photos of various friends, family and staff. Arnold isn’t boastful, but when he does, he speaks words of happiness for his family and his quest to satisfy cruise customers who range from all nationalities around the world.
His CEO status also grants him membership into The Executive Leadership Council, the preeminent member organization for the development of global black leaders. As a member of the exclusive CEO Club, Arnold stands out as a member of an elite group profiled on a pedestal of companies that embark on a daily regimen of marketing, sales, and brand initiatives.
Donald keeps his eye on the prize and has received awards for the best outstanding corporate executive in the nation, while progressively leading a company that practices being “fun.” His Quest is to continue making Carnival Corporation Ships your vacation destination while serving as a role model, businessman and devoted family man.
Kris Gray Photos