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20th-Century Titans

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Kentuckians on Harvard list of century’s top business leaders

Harvard Business School recently published a list of 20th-century men and women whose leadership has shaped the ways that people live, work and interact.

Four natives of Kentucky were included on Harvard’s list and two were employed by Kentucky corporations. The Kentucky-born leaders who managed Kentucky businesses were John Y. Brown and Owsley Brown II. The Browns are not related.

John Y. Brown Jr.
John Y. Brown was the CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken from 1964 to 1973 and served as the 31st governor of Kentucky. Brown grew KFC from 600 to 3,500 franchises and sold the company to Heublein Inc. for $285 million in 1971.
KFC is now owned by YUM Brands (NYSE: YUM) – the world’s largest restaurant company with 36,000 restaurants in over 110 countries and territories. YUM is a Fortune 500 company based in Louisville.

John Y. Brown was born in 1933 and educated at the University of Kentucky (undergraduate and J.D. degrees). He resides in Lexington.

Owsley Brown II
Owsley Brown II was the president/CEO of Brown-Forman Company (NYSE: BF’A) from 1993 to 2003. Brown-Forman is a global company specializing in wine and spirits products. Some of the firm’s top brands include Jack Daniels Sour Mash Whiskey, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Southern Comfort and Fetzers Wines. Brown-Forman is a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Louisville.

Owsley Brown was recognized by Harvard for orchestrating a total marketing makeover of the company – shunning more than 35 years of reluctant advertising by embracing bold new marketing programs. For the past decade, Harvard noted, Brown-Forman has achieved double-digit revenue growth and stellar financial returns despite competing in a mature industry segment.
Brown was born in 1942 and educated at Yale (undergraduate degree) and Stanford (MBA degree). Owsley Brown resides in Louisville.

Kentuckians Joseph A. Boyd and George A. Schaefer also made Harvard’s leadership list while employed by out-of-state corporations.

Boyd received his undergraduate and masters degree from the University of Kentucky and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He served as the CEO of the Harris Corp. from 1972-1986.

Schaefer received his undergraduate degree from St. Louis University and served as the CEO of Caterpillar Tractor Co. from 1985-1990.

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