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Darla Moore School of Business

Leadership Legacy Award

The Center for Executive Succession is proud to sponsor the Leadership Legacy Award, formerly known as the Sustaining Leadership Award. This distinguished award recognizes a CEO who has built a legacy of leadership talent in their organization while simultaneously delivering strong financial, reputational and social performance. It is the only award of its kind that celebrates a CEO's profound commitment to developing future C-suite leaders.

Congratulations to the 2018 winner

Elizabeth (Liz) Smith, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Bloomin’ Brands, is the 2018 recipient of the Leadership Legacy Award. Smith was chosen by a panel of executives who sit on the board of directors of publicly traded companies. Her selection was primarily based on her thought leadership within her industry, her commitment to developing talent and succession planning at every level of the company, and her dedication to her own learning and personal development.

One of the members of the Bloomin’ Brands board of directors said, "When she came to the company, there was very little corporate organization, and financial side of company was in decline. She put together a well-run infrastructure in terms of accounting, human resources, marketing, etc., and now, analysts look to her and her company to understand what is going on in the industry."

When Smith took over Bloomin' Brands in 2009, the company was focused on unit growth. She introduced a long-term sustainable growth plan focused on sales growth that included strengthening the management team, accelerating innovation and increasing productivity while preserving the entrepreneurial culture in the restaurants. Smith returned the company to the public market in 2012 and has since introduced category-leading breakthroughs such as pay at the table on personal devices and home delivery. 

"The Leadership Legacy Award doesn't go to the most popular CEO or the CEO with the biggest business," said Patrick Wright, management professor and director of the Center for Executive Succession. “It's awarded to the CEO who consistently leads their business with integrity while cultivating growth throughout the company, both in terms of business performance and the talent that runs it. As a respected leader in her field, Liz Smith is the perfect picture of such performance."

Smith has almost 30 years of experience growing brands in consumer-facing industries. Prior to Bloomin’ Brands, she was President of Avon Products, Inc., where she successfully led the company’s global marketing, supply chain, information technology and sales business units.

She currently serves on the boards of directors for Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., U.S. Fund for UNICEF and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute (Tampa, Florida). She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

This year's award ceremony was held Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the W. W. "Hootie" Johnson Performance Hall at the Moore School. Smith delivered an eloquent speech on the 


2019 Call for Nominations

The Center for Executive Succession is currently seeking nominations for the 2019 Leadership Legacy Award. Nominations should be submitted by the nominee's chief human resources officer by May 1 to and should provide evidence of the following criteria:

  • A minimum of three years of experience in the focal CEO role
  • Personal commitment to the C-suite succession processes
  • Organizational and personal involvement in
    developing leaders to create the pipeline for future C-suite talent
  • Strong organizational performance in the eyes of
    shareholders, customers, suppliers and employees
  • A reputation for personal integrity in relationships and decisions
  • A role model of effective leadership practices
  • Commitment to continuous personal learning and development

Download the criteria and nomination instructions [pdf].