Veteran business leader and turnaround expert Ronald A. Williams is best known as the former chairman and CEO of Aetna Inc. Over his 10 years with the insurance giant, he led it from $290 million of operating losses to $2 billion in annual earnings. A member of the Black Enterprise Registry of Corporate Directors and a former black enterprise Corporate Executive of the Year, Williams is now chairman and CEO of RW2 Enterprises L.L.C., where he counsels hundreds of executives on developing strategy and transformational leadership.
Williams tapped into that wealth of experience for his new book, Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization. In it, he provides proven advice from his own professional journey as well as other executives who have excelled at the highest levels of corporate America.
What do you hope to accomplish with the book?
I wrote the book, in large part, because I heard from so many of my colleagues and friends who were talking about their children who had graduated college and were constantly hearing negative messages about there was no room in corporate America for them, they were not going to be able to achieve the kind of success their parents had achieved.
I also heard from CEOs who had taken on new assignments and leaders at mid-level in organizations that had new teams. With all the coaching I did and calls that I received, it occurred to me that it was worth writing down the experiences I had, the lessons I learned, and then also visiting with friends and colleagues like Ursula Burns, Ken Chenault, and capturing their lessons and experiences.
So this book is about my journey of learning to lead myself from a very humble background, a very poor household; the first person to go to college. And it’s the story of others who started out in similar circumstances and rose to the highest levels in corporate America.
You came from the South Side of Chicago. It wasn’t like a finishing school for corporate CEOs in America. Early on in your life did you have an inkling about the ultimate potential for what you could do professionally?
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Great Leaders Aren't Born, They're Made
Former Aetna CEO Ron Williams shares his decades of leadership lessons in his new book
How Fifth Third's Kala Gibson Drives Impactful Urban Entrepreneurship
As executive vice president and head of business Banking for Fifth Third Bank, Kala Gibson focuses on helping small businesses gain the resources necessary for them to continue to drive employment, innovation, and impact.
I Want to Be a Triple Threat
I always loved Papa John's. I was introduced to it in ’89 in Baton Rouge Louisiana when I didn’t have a lot of money but I had enough money for a big ol’ Shaqaroni pizza—sausage, pepperoni, extra cheese.
This Young, Black Aerodynamics Engineer Is Rebooting Classics At General Motors
THE CHEVY BLAZER HAS GOTTEN A MAKEOVER IN 2019.
This Dell Exec Took A Leap, And Landed At SVP
NAJUMA ATKINSON HAS BUILT A 20-YEAR CAREER AT DELL TECHNOLOGIES Inc.
Power In The Boardroom
EXPANDING BLACK REPRESENTATION IN THE BOARDROOM AND THE C-SUITE REQUIRES ADVOCACY, STRATEGY, AND POSSIBLY, LEGISLATION. TO MEMBERS OF OUR B.E. REGISTRY OF CORPORATE DIRECTORS, HOWEVER, THE DETERMINING FACTOR COMES DOWN TO LEADERSHIP.
A Legacy Of Learning
Sit At The Knee Of Our 2019 Legacy Award Honorees As They Share Hard-earned Wisdom
Has History Met Your Badass?
If black women don’t assert power and their place in history, everybody loses
A Crash Course In Success
Damian Mills’ strategic leadership, talented team, and knack for turning crises into Lucrative Opportunities turned his mega-dealership into an unstoppable force
How strategic alliances between major corporations and african american businesses and organizations can serve as models for economic and social advancement