August 20, 2013 -
My wife Heidi runs a very tight domestic ship. With me traveling and being away as much as I am, she runs the household completely. Heidi pays the all the bills and makes sure my subscription to “Latvians In Stockings Weekly” is paid, takes care of all things around the house and garden and any DIY.
She also has the traditional duties of cook, cleaner and occasional nurse. Indeed, the title of housewife no longer describes what she does. Yep, Heidi is our domestic chief executive officer. Now, like other CEOs, Heidi has to deal with hostile takeover bids as in attempts by others who have a fetish for fat ugly British cruise directors who try to seduce her husband. Like CEOs Heidi has to deal with, demands of long-term board members, or in this case, our parents.
Most annoyingly my wife turns from being chief executive officer to chief financial officer and tells me, “No, bugger off, you can’t have a new 55-inch smart TV with surround sound.” Yep, Heidi has a lot in common with a CEO to the point that if I don’t make the grade she may fire me for a younger, thinner model.
So, all that nonsense leads me to the substance of today’s blog. Recently Carnival Corporation & plc announced that they had hired a new chief executive officer in Mr. Arnold Donald. As I write this, Mr. Donald is currently visiting our ships based in Australia but before he flew Down Under he took the time to answer some questions for this humble blog which I hope you enjoy.
Here then, as seen here with our Chairman Mr. Micky Arison, is indeed Carnival Corporation & plc’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Arnold Donald.
Q1: Let me start on behalf of everyone reading this by welcoming you on board as CEO of the greatest cruise corporation in the world. I guess, then, the first question is simply ……… how do you feel about your new position?
A1: A bit humbled for sure. Honored that Micky would entrust the legacy of the corporation he and his dad built to me. And VERY motivated to build upon what we already have, achieving even higher levels of success.
Q2: Can you tell us, please, something about your background and your journey through the business world so far?
A2: It’s been quite an amazing journey and hard to recap in a short answer. When I was at my all-boys high school in New Orleans, St. Augustines, in my junior year, I determined that I wanted to be a general manager of a Fortune 100 science-based company and from that point forward, I set my sights on that. At the time, I’m not even sure I understood what that really meant. My path took me through ever more increasing roles and responsibilities – through sales, marketing, manufacturing, market research, starting a new division, general management, executive management and more. In parallel, this path took me through large public corporations, large private corporations, start-ups, start-overs, and then large and small non-profits. My academic degrees are in economics, engineering and an MBA in finance and international business. I also have a couple of honorary degrees but I feel my PhD actually comes from the real world of business.
Q3: You have a brilliant and massively successful business background and many congratulations on all you have achieved. You arrive at both challenging and exciting times. What are your personal goals for your first 365 days as chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation?
A3: OK, John. Flattery will get you everywhere! <LOL> Your adjectives are too kind. First 365 days? Well, most importantly – to take a few cruises to help stay close to the product we offer, and hopefully I’ll sail with you at some point. But like I’ve said in other interviews, 90-120 days of listening, absorbing and benchmarking, for starters. After that, I’m sure I’ll reach conclusions and together with the rest of the management team, I’ll determine what’s most appropriate to really make a difference for our guests and for our shareholders.
Q4: Cruising continues to be the best vacation choice in the world (OK, I am a bit biased obviously) but as you look at all of our brands, what do you think we have to do as a corporation to make sure that label remains true?
A4: Well, I share the same bias. This one is easy … continue to exceed guest expectations, in whatever dimension that takes form. Every touch point with our corporation should be positive, creating millions of new Carnival Corp. cruise advocates every year.
Q5: In your opinion what is the single biggest challenge the industry faces in the coming months?
A5: Our biggest challenge for the foreseeable future is also our greatest opportunity – to shift the media attention and public perception of cruising to what we know it really is – one of the greatest vacation experiences available, at an incredible value, wonderfully safe and hugely memorable.
Q6: I have read how important family is to you and I wondered if you could tell us about them and I also understand that you have taken family cruises in the past. What ships have you sailed on and what were your experiences?
A6: My family time is very important to me. I have one teenage boy, two grown and married daughters, my wife, Hazel, of 39 years, a couple of great son-in-laws, five grandkids, and then there are my four siblings and foster-brother and many nieces and nephews. You might be interested to know my mother and father took in over 25 foster children in their lifetime! Our first extended family cruise — over 50 of us — is still the stuff of legend, including beating the crew/staff in pool volleyball, my youngest sister taking over the comedy show on stage, one of my brother-in-laws getting a standing ovation for a TERRIBLE rendition of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” and much more. We are still talking about it today. I have sailed on six of our lines, my most recent being Seabourn in the Amazon.
Q7: Please would you tell us about something that I know is very dear to your heart and that is your charitable work with Juvenile Diabetes?
A7: Thanks for asking. I have no direct family connection to anyone with type one diabetes that compelled me to help. I was fortunate through a previous career role to get to know the organization. That ultimately led to me hosting a national fundraiser at my home, which included the then CEO. Little did I know he was announcing his retirement the next day, one thing led to another and the rest is history, as they say. What captivated me was realizing the incredible impact that finding a cure would have as well as the uninhibited passion of the many volunteers and staff.
And, finally, and as is tradition here on our blog interviews, it’s time to find out more about the CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc…………….so, here we go
What’s on your iPod? Don’t have one but my iTunes includes the full range from Frank Sinatra to Prince, from James Brown to The Three Tenors.
iPhone, Blackberry or Android? iPhones (plural) but curious about the Windows phone.
Favourite cruise destination? It’s the journey, not the destination! Right!
Most annoying habit (as per Mrs. Donald?) Stopping to chat with everyone I know wherever I am.
Who makes you laugh? I laugh a lot. Close friends. Family. Cruise directors.
As you are from New Orleans, what’s your favourite restaurant there? Wow. That’s a hard one. Mother’s for breakfast, a gas station near my brother’s house in Slidell that serves 36-inch oyster po boys for lunch and August restaurant for dinner. That takes us to day two ….. J
Would you ever consider doing Undercover Boss? Are you kidding me? In our company, do you really think they could disguise me, a 6’ 3” African-American whose image has been plastered everywhere of late — followed by a camera crew — and fool ANYONE?
And finally……..Will you come on my bloggers cruise on the Carnival Sunshine from New Orleans in February 2014? There will be 600 of our readers on board and maybe you could come on for a couple of days and host a Q&A with me. You will get a free T Shirt. Oh and you can buy me dinner at the Ji Ji Asian Kitchen which I hear is fantastic……..I can probably get you a good deal on a cabin. John … you got me with the free T-shirt. And I love New Orleans as a point of departure (or arrival for that matter). No promises this far out but I am definitely penciling it on the calendar. Would you let me be a stand-in cruise director for an evening??
What a fantastic interview and what stood out to me was this statement “to shift the media attention and public perception of cruising to what we know it really is – one of the greatest vacation experiences available, at an incredible value, wonderfully safe and hugely memorable.”
I am sure that there is not a single person reading this who would not agree with that statement and together all of us who work on land or sea for the greatest cruise company in the world will join our CEO in doing all we can to make sure that this happens.
I have ordered a Bloggers 7 T-shirt for you, Mr. Donald, and if you do come and join us you will meet hundreds of people who I know would love to meet you and shake your hand……….and who will probably have a question or two themselves. I truly hope to see you there and if you can join us you can of course be a cruise director for a day….I think a job swap is a brilliant idea.
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Mr. Arnold Donald and together with the continuing and total passion for the industry that our Chairman Micky Arison has the ever-growing fleet of ships of Carnival Corporation & plc and those that sail on them are indeed in very capable hands.