As a teenager, James C. Morgan knew he wanted to lead a big company when he grew up. Decades later, during his long tenure as chief executive officer of the semiconductor giant Applied Materials Inc. the company would become a technology powerhouse and its CEO would become one of the most influential people in Silicon Valley.
Applied’s annual sales shot into the billions, and Morgan’s leadership style earned him kudos from publications ranging from Worth Magazine to Investor’s Business Daily.
Morgan, an Indiana farm boy who went on to receive an MBA from Cornell University, joined Applied Materials in 1977 and spent 26 years at the helm. When he left the CEO’s office in 2003, he remained chairman of the company’s board until 2009. Since then he has served as chairman emeritus.
But his work outside Applied Materials has brought him just as many accolades.
In 1996-1997, he served on the Commission on U.S.-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy, which advised President Clinton and Congress on steps to take to improve trade with Asia-Pacific region. And in 2004, he was the first recipient of the Tech Museum of Innovation’s Global Humanitarian Award, which later was named in his honor.
He and his wife, Becky, have championed causes ranging from an initiative to raise $100 million for conservation efforts in California’s Sierras to challenging other philanthropists to match their donations for programs aimed at grooming the next generation of leaders in technology fields.
By Bob Warren