Bradlee A. Benn

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Vice President, Business Development • American Express Co. Global Merchant Services • New York City • Age: 32

As vice president of business development, Bradlee A. Benn is charged with identifying new industries to expand American Express’ presence. He also manages the overall growth and development of the business in recently penetrated industries and markets. It is a challenging task, given the current economic climate and the decreasing number of industries yet to be tapped. Nevertheless, Benn is passionate about his work. “I really enjoy being part of a team, whether I’m a member or leading the team,” he says. “Identifying a commonly held goal or vision and working together to achieve a goal or vision — these are the types of environments I thrive in.”

Benn draws inspiration from his parents, Orrin and Suzette Benn, who immigrated to the Unites States from Guyana to attend college. His mother, in particular, has been a great influence. When diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), she never lost her resolve. “Seeing how she was able to stay so upbeat despite all that she was facing was an inspiration for me,” says Benn.

Shortly after his mother’s passing in 2007, Benn launched The Thumbs Up Foundation in her honor to award scholarships to women and minorities studying math, health or science in college and fund to organizations conducting ALS research. In his first fundraising effort, he ran the New York City Marathon and raised more than $10,000. Benn also has been involved in several community activities, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and Junior Achievement. He holds a master’s in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Manage-ment and a bachelor’s in business administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. “Success is achieved when opportunity meets preparation,” he says. “I try to make sure that I prepare myself every instance I get, so that when an opportunity comes I’m able to fully capitalize on it.”

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