TO: Clients and Friends of Ariel Investments, LLC
FROM: John W. Rogers, Jr., Chairman, Co-CEO and Chief Investment Officer
DATE: July 10, 2019
RE: Important Promotion and Company Update
Chicago, IL (July 10, 2019) — I am delighted to announce the promotion of my longtime business partner and friend, Mellody Hobson, to Co-CEO of Ariel.
This news is exciting, but unsurprising. As many know, Mellody has spent her entire professional career of nearly 28 years at our firm and has served as Ariel’s President since 2000.
I first met Mellody at a college recruitment event for Chicago area high school students. She was 17 years old and her academic excellence made her a standout. She joined Ariel as a summer intern between her sophomore and junior years at Princeton and then became a member of our client services and marketing team upon graduation. What I most remember about her early days at Ariel was her incredible work ethic, passion for the investment industry, and never-ending desire to exceed expectations. Today, Mellody is exactly the same—energetic and relentless in her pursuit of excellence.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Mellody’s success is a testament to “can.”
Her ascent to Co-CEO is a direct result of her own focus, patience, independent thinking and team play—a “can do” spirit that is infectious. She is also, hands down, the person to have by your side during challenging times because she is unflappable. I have seen Mellody’s fortitude and resolve in the tensest of situations. She stands firm when others are shaky. She is a beacon in a storm—disciplined and thoughtful when others lose perspective. I have personally leaned on Mellody in some of the most critical times of my life and she has been the most devoted friend and colleague that a person could have. Mellody’s loyalty has never been blind, but focuses on helping others see more clearly.
Her leadership has not only been invaluable to Ariel but to corporate boardrooms as well. She was a longstanding board member of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and also served as the Chairman of the Board of DreamWorks Animation where she helped facilitate its sale to Comcast. She currently serves as Vice Chairman of Starbucks Corporation as well as a board member of JPMorgan Chase & Co. In all instances, she has not only been a dedicated fiduciary, she has also consistently brought remarkable learnings back to Ariel that have made us better.
Even though I founded Ariel, it has long been Mellody’s firm too. In all the years of working together, Mellody and I have evolved into co-leaders. Her decision-making has always been through a lens of ownership and entrepreneurship. In past decades, she has accumulated significant holdings in the firm through stock grants as well as some of her own aggressive share purchases—including a substantial buy during the 2008 lows. That said, our current ownership differences do not reflect the totality of her contributions now or into the future. In an effort to better align both our titles and equity, Mellody will purchase approximately 14% of my holdings. Upon completion of this transaction, which is scheduled to close on or before July 19, 2019, I will own 34.1% of Ariel and she will hold 39.5%. Ariel employees and board members own 21.8% with the remaining 4.6% held by a small number of outsiders. Both her promotion as well as this share purchase represent a long-planned generational transition of leadership and ownership while simultaneously allowing us to maintain continuity. As many know, I have never been a seller of my Ariel stock and these are the only shares that I ever plan to sell. I am happily doing so to level the playing field.
What will not change is that I will remain Chairman of Ariel’s Board of Directors and continue to lead the research effort as both player and coach—portfolio manager of our flagship domestic equity strategies as well as providing oversight to our international and global team. Research drives our investment results and remains the cornerstone of everything we do. With Mellody as Co-CEO, even more of my attention will be focused on ensuring we continue to deliver exemplary performance. Meanwhile, Mellody will remain laser focused on running the business of Ariel—as she has done for the last 19 years.
And while we are deliberately considering succession planning, rest assured, my own plan is to continue managing stock portfolios for at least another decade—if not more. Even on the toughest days, I love this job—and there is nothing I would rather do. The markets have fascinated me since I was twelve years old and still captivate me today.
I am confident Mellody is more than equipped to help take our firm to the next level. And I look forward to being right there, standing alongside her for this next phase.
Should you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.