Funded by Richard Sands, Chairman of the Board of Constellation Brands and member of the Simon Advisory Council, the intent of the Sands Leadership Lecture Series is to advance the science and teaching of leadership at Simon. By stimulating thought, we seek to build the Simon School’s reputation as a business school that teaches people how to think about real-world problems in creative, penetrating, and impactful ways.
George Bodenheimer is an ESPN and cable industry pioneer serving as executive chairman, ESPN, Inc. from January, 2012 through May, 2014 where he provided strategic direction for ESPN’s global business. Prior to becoming executive chairman he served as the company’s longest-tenured president (13 years, 1998-2012) where he led an unprecedented period of global growth. He also oversaw all multimedia sports assets of The Walt Disney Company from March 3, 2003 – December 31, 2011 and was co-chairman, Disney Media Networks from April 20, 2004 – December 31, 2011.
Bodenheimer’s path to leadership mirrors that of ESPN itself—with his sharp focus on creativity and cutting-edge innovation, always enhancing value for sports fans and ESPN’s business partners, and his conviction for teamwork. He believes ESPN’s culture is the company’s strategic advantage. As president, he viewed his primary role as working hard to preserve and enhance that culture while emphasizing career development for all of ESPN’s people.
Consistent and substantive growth defined Bodenheimer’s tenure as president, leading to unprecedented success. His leadership style was simple but effective: empower all employees to proactively take charge of their careers and to base decisions on the company’s stated mission: “Serve Sports Fans. Anytime. Anywhere.” He launched a company priority process that engaged all employees to drive business initiatives. His vision created a vibrant, innovative workplace. Bodenheimer chronicles his ESPN career in his business leadership memoir, Every Town Is a Sports Town: Business Leadership at ESPN, from the Mailroom to the Boardroom (May, 2015) Bodenheimer’s leadership has been recognized throughout the industry. In April 2005, he received a Vanguard Award, the industry’s highest honor, from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. In 2008, he was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame for his leadership, innovation and contributions to the cable industry and his community. In December 2012, he was honored twice: the Distinguished American Award from The National Football Foundation and induction into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Throughout the years, he has received many other prestigious industry awards.
Bodenheimer elevated the company’s numerous corporate outreach initiatives, most notably The V Foundation for Cancer Research, which was founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach and commentator Jim Valvano. The V Foundation has raised more than $130 million since 1993 and 100% of cash donations go directly to research. Bodenheimer also championed an impressive increase in ESPN employee volunteerism during his tenure as president, highlighted by more than 30,000 hours of service given to those less fortunate as part of the company’s 30th anniversary efforts. Since 1998, he has served on the V Foundation Board.
Bodenheimer also serves on the board of Sirius XM and Denison University.
Bodenheimer graduated from Denison University in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He is married with three children.
Watch the 2016 Sands Leadership Lecture in our archive below.
2016: Jim Stengel, President/CEO of The Jim Stengel Company and former Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble, shares his insights on global marketing and creating a growth culture through leadership.
2014: Professor Michael Jensen and Werner Erhard, two extraordinary thinkers, engage in a conversation that explores groundbreaking access to being a leader and to the effective exercise of leadership as one's natural self-expression.