PROVO, Utah The greatest task of an executive today is to deal effectively with change, said President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency.
Speaking Oct. 29 to business leaders gathered here for the presentation of the BYU Marriott School of Management International Executive of the Year Award, President Monson lauded John Pepper, former CEO and Chairman of the Board for Procter & Gamble. He is currently chairman of the executive committee for the company.
"John Pepper," President Monson said, "has dealt magnificently with change."
Through expansion and an increase in overall sales, Procter & Gamble is the "lengthened shadow of its leader," President Monson added.
The International Executive of the Year Award was established in 1974 to annually honor an outstanding executive from the public or private sector who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and high moral and ethical standards. Last year President Gordon B. Hinckley received the honor, the most prestigious award given by the Marriott School.
Before presenting Mr. Pepper with the award, President Monson noted that Mr. Pepper has given Procter & Gamble premier leadership.
"Mr. Pepper, you have the courage, you have the determination, you have the spirit of achievement that befits Brigham Young; therefore, I am happy to give you this award tonight."
President Monson noted that since his youth, when he first became familiar with Procter & Gamble by scrubbing the kitchen floor with its soap, he has learned much good about the company.
During college he researched three companies for which he would like to work, including Procter & Gamble "one of the premier companies in America." In recent years, he said, he has been grateful for Mr. Pepper and the company and for their interest in the underprivileged, those who have handicaps and young people.
After accepting the award, Mr. Pepper noted that several of the young people Procter & Gamble has recruited from BYU have been great employees with high standards.
"This is a wonderful place," said Mr. Pepper, speaking of BYU. "I know that from a few of the graduates. I have felt that as I have learned more about your mission."
BYU Pres. Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy echoed Mr. Pepper's sentiments about BYU. He said he recently met a young convert from Brazil whose whole life changed with the help of BYU. The young man, who had dropped out of high school, joined the Church when he was 17. Two years later he served a mission, where he had several companions who, after they completed their missions, received an education at BYU.
Following the example of his companions, the young man resolved to get an education. After completing high school he received a scholarship to BYU and later attended graduate school there. Today he has a position with a major firm that is headquartered in New York, but also has a major operation in Brazil where the young man eventually plans to live.
"I thought what an incredible story of faith and having one's sights lifted in terms of what one can become," said Pres. Bateman. "[This high school dropout] changed his life, and Brigham Young University played a part in that. . . . I am grateful to be associated with an incredible institution that has a mission of changing young people's lives."