Words of Wisdom From the Latest Sachem Honoree

The fact that Ian Rolland received the Sachem Award from Gov. Mitch Daniels at a Wednesday ceremony at the Statehouse was no surprise. You can read, listen and see more about the honor and the recipient courtsey of the governor’s office.

When such events take place, it reminds me how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to meet and speak with so many of these distinguished Hoosiers. Rolland was the 1998 winner of the Indiana Chamber’s Business Leader of the Year award.

On the unfortunate side, I had only been with the Chamber a few months at the time and, quite honestly, had not figured out these annual awards and exactly how we should communicate about them. My time with Rolland for an interview at the Fort Wayne offices of Lincoln National, where he had just retired as CEO, was limited. I’ve learned since to invest more time to do a better job of telling such interesting award winner stories.

But in looking back, there are a couple of nuggets that Rolland shared that day that do epitomize his role as not only a business but community leader who is still making a difference in Fort Wayne and beyond. From the November/December 1998 BizVoice magazine (the third issue of the publication; our 84th issue will debut at next week’s Best Places to Work in Indiana awards event):

Rolland: "I’ve come to believe very strongly in community involvement. It’s a responsibility of citizenship — whether individual or corporate. I think it’s really in the best interest of the organization, too. If we can help make those communities better, it’s a better place for our employees and a better place to market our products."

Rolland had a 42-year association with Lincoln National, becoming president in 1975 and CEO two years later. Assets grew from $6 billion to $88 billion under his leadership.

In his understated way that day 14 years ago, he said, "The business has to be successful, growing and profitable before you can do anything else. Once that was accomplished, I think I was able to help make this community a better place."

Indeed. Congratulations, Ian Rolland.