VOL. 128 | NO. 229 | Friday, November 22, 2013
Drexel's Shockey Named Chamber Chairwoman
By Andy Meek
The Greater Memphis Chamber has named a new chairwoman, and it soon will have a replacement for its outgoing president and CEO – with the odds likely favoring a local hire.
The chamber's board has tapped Drexel Chemical Co. CEO Leigh Shockey to be the business organization's new chairwoman. Her pick will be followed in a few months by a replacement for John Moore, a former Northwest Airlines executive who is stepping down as president and CEO effective Jan. 3 after eight years with the chamber.
If Shockey's preference is any indication, Moore's replacement is likely to be a Memphis-area candidate.
“You know what? I'd really like to keep it local if we can,” Shockey said when asked about the possibility of a national search. “I think we're going to focus on some local candidates. Not to say that somebody won't come from outside and throw their hat into the ring, and that's fine. But we've had an awful lot of interest locally. It would be nice to have someone - just as we did with John - who already knows our city and understands how we work and operate.
“Realistically, with the holidays upon us, we're targeting the end of February or the first of March to have someone new in place. And we've already had a lot of interest.”
The new president's arrival will come down the line after the introduction of a chairwoman who has been with Drexel, founded by Shockey's father in 1972, since she was fresh out of college. There, she developed a focus on international business before taking the reins as CEO.
Drexel manufactures and distributes a variety of agricultural chemical product labels.
“I worked in the international department - actually, built an international department and worked in it for a number of years before I took over as CEO,” Shockey said. “I've spent most of my life focused on international trade, with Drexel, then with other organizations outside Drexel. I chaired the Tennessee District Export Council for many years, for example, and a lot of other different organizations involved with international trade. It's really an important part of who I am.”
Shockey also has traveled internationally to sell others on opportunities for locating in Memphis and for Memphis' logistics assets to distribute products from here. International business, needless to say, will be high on her list of interests as the chamber's new chairwoman - and, she added, the chamber already has worked hard in that regard with, for example, its International Business Council.
Closer to home, meanwhile, the chamber's new chairwoman is also already a cheerleader for Memphis.
“I love the people. I love Downtown, the energy down there,” she said. “I love the Grizzlies, and I don't miss a game. We've got lots of parks, some rural areas within a 15- or 20-minute drive. I just think we have the best of everything here in Memphis.”
Shockey's appointment comes at a time of transition at the chamber - with Moore's impending departure - as well as during a stretch of high-profile recruitments and investments by the organization. Over Moore's eight years, the chamber says, it has recruited more than 21,000 new jobs and brought $4.5 billion in new capital investment to Memphis and Shelby County.