‘I WOULD GIVE WILSON THE HIGHEST GRADE YOU COULD IMAGINE’
By all accounts, Wilson has done a spectacular job in making GMAC a highly professional organization with a secure financial footing. “I would give him the highest grade you could imagine,” says Bill Broesamle, the former CEO who Wilson succeeded. “We had little staff, no infrastructure, and no reach beyond ETS. I think it had run its course. Dave was right to go in a much different direction. I couldn’t be more pleased that he was my successor.” Adds Danos of the Tuck School: “He didn’t have his head in the sand. He’s grown the organization in a very thoughtful way. He’s done a good job.”
For his successor, there is much uncertainty in this next phase of GMAC’s life. Can the organization find a way to test for innovation and creativity in prospective students? Will the exam survive competition from less expensive alternatives in emerging economies? Will the inevitable unbundling of education through free MOOC courses and online programs lessen the need for an entry exam altogether? If anything, thanks to Wilson, Chowfla has inherited a stable and strong organization with the financial clout to weather a storm.
Ask Wilson what his proudest accomplishment is over the 18 years he served as president and CEO and he will immediately give credit to the team he put together. “I managed to find 150 of the best people in the world,” he says with sincerity, “and they have pretty much carried me over the years. I have been really fortunate to have so many wonderful people.”
But he has also managed to create a significantly larger non-profit, with 30 times the number of employees he inherited, along with some very highly paid senior professionals. When a prominent business school dean was recently asked to guess what Wilson made in a year, he said about $400,000-which is not much more than one-fifth of the reported compensation for GMAC’s president and CEO in 2012. Thank goodness for the GMAT and those very fat margins that are even better than Apple makes on its iPhones.