CEO Stanley Bergman wins Perlmutter Award
This past Tuesday, the Brandeis International Business School's 2013 Perlmutter Award was presented to Stanley Bergman, the chairman and chief executive officer of the health care company Henry Schein, Inc.
Bergman first gave a lecture in IBS' Lee Hall about corporate responsibility. After the talk, Bergman received the award from IBS Dean Bruce Magid, University President Frederick Lawrence and Trustee Louis Perlmutter '56.
In an interview with the Justice, Bergman spoke about his background and his commitment to philanthropy and social programs. Bergman, his wife Marion and his family actively support organizations involving the arts; higher education; grassroots health care and sustainable economic development in the United States, Africa and developing nations around the globe.
When asked about his reaction to receiving the award, Bergman said, "When Lou [Perlmutter] called me up I was blown away." He added that he was good friends with the Perlmutters and that it was a great honor. Bergman spoke of the business philosophy of Henry Schein, referencing key components as suppliers, customers, the Henry Schein team, investors and a deep moral commitment. "It's not only about writing a check, but being actively engaged in corporate social responsibility." He remarked that awards like the Perlmutter Award "validate what our 16,000 [employees] engage in, balancing the needs of society and business."
According to Bergman, community commitment is an important aspect of the Henry Schein philosophy. Notable programs include the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, a program which advances "wellness, access to care and response to disasters;" Back to School, a service which provides school supplies to disadvantaged schoolchildren; and Holiday Cheer, which provides clothing, toys and games to disadvantaged children as well as food baskets for their families.
Bergman stressed that the community service commitment applies to both the United States and abroad. In terms of the company's global outreach, a large portion revolves around the African continent and to some extent Latin America. Programs also extend services to some parts of Asia and Australia. While Henry Schein team members in the United States provide a large portion of support and logistical expertise for social responsibility and outreach initiatives, there is a strong international presence which also assists in global outreach.
Providing a bit of context for his motivations both in business and in the social realm, Bergman explained his background and personal foundations. "I think my values, my foundation and my parents' values were such that they were connected with a socially responsible lifestyle," he said.
Bergman described growing up in Port Elizabeth on the southern tip of Africa. He attended the University of the Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa "at a very unstable time in South African history, ... toward the end of the apartheid period," he said. While he was heavily involved in the youth movement, which emphasized issues of social responsibility and anti-apartheid sentiment, Bergman explained that he had yet to become a "real activist."
As the conversation came to a close, Bergman spoke of the struggles he and his wife encountered in Africa. His wife, a physician, interned at the largest hospital in Africa, something which "made her really aware of the injustice that was going on in Africa," Bergman said. The struggle of apartheid and strife on the continent spurred the couple to leave South Africa in 1975, moving to the U.S. after a year abroad in Israel and the United Kingdom. According to Bergman, his primary intention in coming to the U.S. was to make a living. He entered the accounting world, working as a consultant for Henry Schein. "I have always had a view of how to combine the business world ... with socially responsible activities, and Henry Schein has given me a really good platform to do exactly that," he said.
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