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February 27, 2015 | by Bob Weidner

As I See It

And the Oscar goes to...

I’ve been thinking a good bit about awards these days and what they signify.

The Oscar ceremony, the end of film awards season, as that industry recognizes its finest achievements helped crystallize my ideas. There is always a bit of grumbling from critics and fans alike about who won, and who got snubbed and what, after all, does Oscar really symbolize.

But if you truly want to understand what this eight and a half pound statuette (made of the metal alloy brittanium, by the way and plated with 24K gold), really means you have only to look at the grateful smiles and even tears of those who receive it. They are clearly thrilled, and the audience feels their pure joy, and their sense of achievement, and the respect that the award symbolizes.

At the beginning of May this year, at our Annual Meeting at the downtown Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Hotel, MSCI will present its Lifetime Achievement Awards to honor a select few of the outstanding individuals from our membership. It does not quite do justice to what these awards stand for to say they are a bit like our Oscars. The Lifetime Achievements are our recognition of the highest levels of leadership, integrity, community service and business acumen. They honor individuals who reflect all of the best that MSCI stands for.

“The Lifetime Achievements are our recognition of the highest levels of leadership, integrity, community service and business acumen.”

This year, to its considerable credit, the Academy that bestows the Oscars chose to celebrate one of its greatest and most popular artists, Julie Andrews and the 50 years since her joyful movie, The Sound of Music won its Best Picture award. It was a moment that reminded me why our Lifetime Achievement trophy incorporates the image of the two-faced Roman God Janus, who according to legend was able to clearly see both the past and the future. In a show-stopping performance, contemporary pop star Lady Gaga, a bright part of the future of music, looked backward as she sang a medley of songs from the wonderful Rogers and Hammerstein Sound of Music score. Ms. Andrews basked in the well-deserved applause, an artist of undisputed talent and a symbol of Hollywood’s respect for one of its iconic performers.

Oscar is the recognition of excellence, originality, creativity, innovation and artistic leadership. It is not an award for the most tickets sold, the highest revenue earned, or in most years even for the most popular films made. Oscar is an award for vision, imagination, and creative integrity. The best picture is a complete package. The winners did it all so well that they earned a respected and admired place in history.

Our Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize the same kind of iconic performance in our industry. The recipients represent what we aspire to be as business executives, as leaders, as mentors, as innovative motivators who understand the cardinal importance of family and community, of honesty and generosity. They have not all been box-office favorites, if you will, not all have built the biggest and most profitable companies. But they have built unassailable reputations that are respected in their communities and throughout our association. They demonstrate tenured excellence, respected leadership, and commitment to continuous improvement within our industry. They are philanthropic, and have set an example of stewardship in their companies and communities. They are the real thing, the complete package. Some may have stepped aside from active involvement in their companies, but all have built a legacy that will endure and we are very proud to honor them.

And so, our Oscars this year go to…Well, of course I am not going to tell you that now. But I look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting in May, when an unusually powerful conference program—including a chat with Governor Mitt Romney—will be highlighted by the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony.