Kenneth I. Chenault is chairman and a managing director of General Catalyst, a venture capital firm. As a managing director, he invests in fast-growing companies that have the potential to become large, fundamental institutions. He also provides invaluable guidance to portfolio companies, particularly those with an eye toward global markets and responsible innovation, as they scale their teams and products. As chairman, Mr. Chenault leverages his renowned leadership abilities and experience to continue to evolve General Catalyst into a formidable and enduring firm.
Prior to joining General Catalyst, Mr. Chenault was chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, a position he held from 2001 to 2018. He joined American Express in 1981 as director of strategic planning and subsequently served in a number of increasingly senior positions, including vice chairman and president and chief operating officer, until his appointment as CEO. Under his leadership, American Express built Membership Rewards, one of the world’s largest customer loyalty programs, and earned global recognition as a leader in customer service. Upon Mr. Chenault’s retirement from American Express, Warren Buffett, the company’s largest shareholder, stated, “Ken’s been the gold standard for corporate leadership and the benchmark that I measure others against.”
Mr. Chenault is recognized as one of the business world’s experts on brands and brand management. He has been recognized by multiple publications, including Fortune magazine, which included him on its inaugural World’s 50 Greatest Leaders list in 2014. He has received awards from a wide variety of civic, social service, and community organizations. Mr. Chenault serves on the boards or advisory councils of Airbnb, Facebook, the Harvard Corporation, and numerous nonprofit organizations, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, NYU Langone Health, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (as chair).
Mr. Chenault holds a BA in history from Bowdoin College and a JD from Harvard Law School. He has also received honorary degrees from several universities.