The Legacy of Donald M. Kendall: Biography- Life, Career & Wealth

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MichaelVaV, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Donald M. Kendall was a prominent American businessman and executive who was best known for his role as the CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo, Inc., one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies. He was born on March 16, 1921, in Sequim, Washington, and passed away on September 19, 2020, at the age of 99.

Kendall was raised in the Pacific Northwest and attended Western Washington University before joining the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he attended Columbia University, where he earned a degree in economics. He then joined the advertising agency BBDO, where he worked on the Pepsi account.

In 1957, Kendall was recruited by PepsiCo‘s then-president, Herman W. Lay, to become the company’s vice president of marketing. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming CEO in 1963 and Chairman in 1971. Under Kendall’s leadership, PepsiCo grew into a global powerhouse, with brands such as Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay, and Tropicana. Kendall was known for his aggressive marketing tactics and his willingness to take risks, such as the company’s sponsorship of Michael Jackson’s 1984 “Victory” tour.

Kendall retired as Chairman of PepsiCo in 1986, but remained on the company’s board until 1994. He was also involved in numerous other business ventures, including serving as a director of IBM, Texaco, and the New York Stock Exchange.

As a result of his successful business career, Kendall amassed a significant fortune. At the time of his death, his net worth was estimated to be around $1 billion. He was also known for his philanthropy, supporting a variety of causes, including education, health care, and the arts. Kendall donated millions of dollars to his alma mater, Western Washington University, as well as to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Botanical Garden, and other organizations.

In summary, Donald M. Kendall was a highly successful businessman and executive who helped transform PepsiCo into one of the world’s largest and most successful companies. His wealth was a reflection of his accomplishments, but he was also known for his generosity and his dedication to philanthropy.

Here is a timeline of the key events in the life of Donald M. Kendall:

  • 1921: Donald M. Kendall is born on March 16th in Sequim, Washington.
  • 1942-1945: Kendall serves in the U.S. Army during World War II.
  • 1948: Kendall graduates from Columbia University with a degree in economics.
  • 1952: Kendall joins advertising agency BBDO and works on the Pepsi account.
  • 1957: Kendall is recruited by PepsiCo’s then-president, Herman W. Lay, to become the company’s vice president of marketing.
  • 1963: Kendall becomes CEO of PepsiCo.
  • 1971: Kendall becomes Chairman of PepsiCo.
  • 1984: PepsiCo sponsors Michael Jackson’s “Victory” tour, which becomes a major marketing success for the company.
  • 1986: Kendall retires as Chairman of PepsiCo but remains on the company’s board until 1994.
  • 1994: Kendall steps down from PepsiCo’s board of directors.
  • 2003: Kendall donates $25 million to his alma mater, Western Washington University, which is renamed the Donald P. Kendall College of Arts and Sciences in his honor.
  • 2020: Kendall passes away on September 19th at the age of 99.

5 Interesting Facts about Donald M. Kendall:

  1. Kendall played a key role in the creation of Diet Pepsi, which became one of the company’s most successful products.
  2. He was a personal friend of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and helped introduce Pepsi to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
  3. Kendall was a collector of art and antiques, and his collection was valued at over $100 million.
  4. He served on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange during the tumultuous period following the 1987 stock market crash.
  5. Kendall was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993 for his contributions to business and philanthropy.

5 Quotes from Donald M. Kendall:

  1. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
  2. “You can’t grow a company without taking risks. It’s like going to the dance and not asking anybody to dance.”
  3. “I’ve always felt that a person who’s willing to work hard will always have opportunities.”
  4. “A leader has to be willing to take risks, has to be willing to make mistakes and learn from them, and has to be willing to listen to other people’s ideas.”
  5. “The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

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