Posted: November 29, 2007
One of Lehigh’s own is returning home as former wrestler William J. Amelio ’79, president and CEO of Lenovo Group Ltd., will draw upon his extensive corporate resume and his belief in the power of giving back when addressing the more than 1,200 graduates of Lehigh University’s Class of 2008 on Monday, May 19. Amelio was a four-year member of the Lehigh wrestling team from 1975-79, wrestling mostly at 167 and 177 pounds. He appeared in 31 varsity matches over that time, with a career-high of 11 in 1977-78, his junior year. During his time at Lehigh, the then-Engineers won three EIWA Championships and finished in the top-ten at the NCAA Championships every year. Amelio won three matches at the 1979 EIWA Championships, including a stunning upset of the defending runner-up from Navy, and also wrestled in one match at that year’s NCAA Championships.
Other highlights of Amelio’s career on the mat include an upset tie at 177 pounds with the defending NCAA fourth place finisher from powerhouse Cal Poly to spark a 17-16 Lehigh team victory inside of Grace Hall. As a senior, Amelio weighed less than 190 pounds, but volunteered to move up to heavyweight in his final semester, wrestling in three bouts, including one versus a 400-pounder from in-state rival Pittsburgh, and a 10-3 victory over long time rival Penn State’s heavyweight.
While professionally Amelio works to reshape the face of modern computer technology, in his private life, he and his wife Jamie also work tirelessly to improve the lives of impoverished children in Cambodia through a nonprofit organization the couple founded in 2003.
“My experience at Lehigh didn’t just prepare me for a successful career, it also gave me a deep appreciation for the importance of devoting oneself to helping others,” Amelio said. “Whether it's by bringing better technology to people around the world, developing and coaching budding leaders, or offering the chance for an education to underprivileged children, I feel I have an obligation to the principles I learned at this great institution.
“I'm very honored to have this opportunity to tell tomorrow's leaders about how they can play a role in innovating for tomorrow; how their ideas will shape the future of business, technology and the world overall, and most importantly, how their journey has just begun!”
“A responsible and generous global citizen”
Lehigh President Alice P. Gast says Amelio’s tremendous success in international business and his dedication to improving the world around him makes him an excellent role model for future Lehigh graduates.
“Bill is truly an example of someone who embodies the values we hold close to our hearts at Lehigh,” she says. “Not only does he recognize the importance of embracing other cultures and countries, he also firmly believes in being a responsible and generous global citizen. As someone who sat on the other side of the podium nearly 30 years ago, Bill will be able to relate to our graduating seniors in a way that is inspiring, yet very real to them.”
Currently, Amelio is making a name for himself in the business world by steadily pushing for increased strategic globalization, or what he calls “worldsourcing,” at Lenovo, recently authoring an article in Forbes magazine on the topic. His company has annual revenues of more than $16 billion and is one of the top three PC companies in the world. Last year Lenovo purchased IBM’s PC division, acquiring the rights to related trademarks, such as ThinkPad.
Amelio holds a master’s degree in management from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh University.
Before joining Lenovo, he spent five years at Dell Inc. as senior vice president, Asia-Pacific and Japan, with responsibility for strategy and operations across the region. Amelio also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of NCR Corporation’s Retail and Financial Group from 2000 to 2001.
Previous to that, he held positions with Honeywell International, Inc., where he was president and CEO of Honeywell’s transportation and power-systems divisions, and with its predecessor, AlliedSignal, Inc., where he was President of the turbo-charging-systems business. From 1979 to 1997, Amelio held a wide range of senior management positions with IBM, including general manager of operations for IBM’s Personal Computing Division.
The Amelio family founded Caring for Cambodia in 2003, a non-profit organization focused on education. The charitable organization now supports thousands of Cambodian children; by building schools, libraries, water wells and homes for needy families, and providing professional training to teachers.
Story written by Sarah Cooke, Lehigh University Relations