Lloyd Ward knows all about challenges. He grew up in a house with no running water. He captained his Michigan State basketball team despite being its worst shooter. He broke through color barriers in the business world that stopped lesser men. So Ward’s latest task probably doesn’t seem too daunting: In October, the 1984 M.B.A. graduate became the chief executive officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee— a mere three months before the world descends upon Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Games.
“My life for the next few months will be like running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace,” Ward says. The USOC coordinates the Olympic-related activity of the 72 different U.S. sports organizations that are involved in the Games. As CEO, Ward oversees that effort, as well as the USOC’s 500-plus staff and $125 million annual budget.
Ward was selected unanimously for the job after impressing the search committee with his enthusiasm and energy. Rather than bringing notes to his interview, he brought a laptop computer and made a presentation.
Ward, 52, earned an M.B.A. while working at Procter & Gamble. He joined Pepsico in 1992, later becoming president of Frito-Lay Inc.’s central division. He then joined Maytag in 1996, becoming its chairman in 1999. He served that role for 15 months before becoming chairman of the Internet firm iMotors.