American Express Chairman & CEO Ken Chenault Announces Plans to Step Down

(American Express Chairman & CEO Ken Chenault.)

American Express Chairman & CEO Ken Chenault has announced his plans to leave his role of 16 years on February 1.

“We’re completing a two-year turnaround ahead of plan and getting ready to start a new chapter,” Chenault said on a call with analysts after the company reported third-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates and boosted its full-year earnings forecast. “Given the progress we’re making, I thought this was the right time to begin the leadership transition.”

“I’ve treasured every day of my 37-year career here,” he said. “It’s been a journey that spanned profound changes in the world of business.”

“Ken’s been the gold standard for corporate leadership and the benchmark that I measure others against,” business mogul Warren Buffet said in a statement. “He led the company through 9/11, the financial crisis and the challenges of the last couple of years. American Express always came out stronger.”

A graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Law School, Chenault, 66, is counted as the third African American businessperson to lead a Fortune 500 company.