Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2014

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35 B M & T ••• September/October 2014••• Carnival had become fodder for Jay Leno and other late night comedians, and the press, in their eager- ness to bolster ratings, went into a feeding frenzy and blew things way out of proportion. "The biggest challenge when I first took over was the media," says the New Orleans native who lived in St. Louis. "We continue to have work to do, but the work is on us. We had come off some voyage disruptions and had gotten a lot of negative media, and so on my very first day I flew to Miami for an interview." The inter- view was scheduled so Donald could go public about his appointment by company founder Micky Aronson as Carnival's new president/CEO. Aronson, who had served as Carnival's presi- dent/CEO and chairman since its inception, had decided the time had come to separate the roles of chair- man and CEO. But things went awry during the interview when an online publication blasted the headline "Micky Aronson booted from Chairman's Role at Carnival" across cyberspace. "It was all negative, which was not true at all. Totally not true," says Donald. "So we spent all day with a zillion interviews, before I jump on the plane and fly back to St. Louis. On the way back they call and say they want to do and interview on CBS This Morning tomorrow morning, assuring me it would be a puff piece." Donald agreed to the interview, knowing it fell on his shoul- ders to get the true Carnival story out to the viewing public After arriving back in St. Louis after midnight, an exhausted Donald prepared for his CBS interview the next morning at 5:30 A RNOLD DONALD is not what you might envision when you picture the president and CEO of a multibillion dollar US corporation. We first encountered Donald when we arrived early for an interview at Carnival's impressive Miami corporate headquarters, waiting patiently in the lobby area for one of his staff to come down and bring us up to his offices. Donald was just returning from an out of town business trip in time for our meeting, and as we watched, he strode up to the main entrance with two roller bags in tow and proceeded to open the door himself, step inside and work his way towards the bank of elevators around the corner. We had not met him in person yet, so he didn't know who we were. But we had seen his photo before and recognized him instantly. While the elevators were only a few dozen feet away, it took Donald a bit longer than you would think to get there. Why? Because the was lobby bustling with people coming and going, and it seemed as though he knew everyone, greeting several employees by name as he moved along, stopping to exchange hugs with another, and pausing on more than one occasion to engage in a little chit chat with still others. Here was the head of the largest travel and leisure com- pany in the world, carrying his own luggage, opening the door for himself and greeting staff by name. All this, mind you, without a flying wedge entourage surrounding him to serve as a buffer and keep us ordinary folk at arms length. It is precisely Donald's affable, gregarious and outgoing nature that has served him so well since assuming the role as president and chief executive officer of Carnival Corp. in July of 2013. He understands the importance of bringing that human spirit into the workplace environment, and is committed to infusing that same quality into the cruise experience for Carnival's clients. Donald took the reins at Carnival during a difficult period after the cruise industry and the company itself had suf- fered a spate of mishaps at s e a . "The biggest challenge when I first took over was the media," BY SOLOMON & GLORIA HERBERT TAKES CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES TO NEW HEIGHTS A R N O L D D O N A L D Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky

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