Profile: George Barrett ’73, CEO Of Cardinal Health

George Barrett ’73 — who captained Staples’ soccer, basketball and baseball teams, played soccer at Brown University and is now CEO of Cardinal Health, the Fortune 25 company with revenues of more than $100 billion — is the subject of a long story in today’s Columbus Dispatch.

The piece says George — who still plays guitar and piano, and sings — “combines the competitiveness he acquired as a star athlete with the out-of-the-box thinking he learned through music.”

Though Cardinal is Ohio’s largest company in terms of revenue, because it’s a distributor and does not sell directly to customers, it’s not well known. “Neither is its CEO, despite his interesting and unconventional past,” the Dispatch says.

George Barrett (Photo/Stephen Webster for Barrons)

George Barrett (Photo/Stephen Webster for Barrons)

George is a major player in business circles, however. He met recently with President Obama to discuss immigration reform.

His mother, Lucille, was a long-time English teacher. His father, Herb, was a psychologist.

“I learned respect for other people from my parents,” Barrett said. “They
understood and accepted people for the gifts they had, they were colorblind, status-blind, and if someone is in trouble, you open your arms and catch them.”

A serious back injury, and subsequent surgery, ended George’s soccer career.
Despite 7 operations he still swims, plays tennis and rides a bike.

After being forced to give up soccer at Brown, George added a music major to his degree in history. His former mentor said he has perfect pitch.

After college he was recruited by the Metropolitan Opera to study opera. He was more interested in writing his own songs, and performed at Greenwich Village clubs like the Bitter End and Folk City. He said:

“I loved music, but I didn’t like the life of a musician. I wanted to sleep at night and be awake during the day; I didn’t like the self-promotion required. I just felt in the pit of my stomach this wasn’t the life I wanted.”

Cardinal Health

After teaching and coaching soccer at Horace Mann, and considering law school, George entered the business world. Along the way, he earned an MBA at New York University.

According to the Dispatch,  he is “now considered one of the leaders and leading thinkers of the pharmaceutical industry.”

(Click here  for the full Columbus Dispatch story.)

One response to “Profile: George Barrett ’73, CEO Of Cardinal Health

  1. George also took an injury-plagued team that finished in last place and led it to the Watermelon Cup during his college years–talk about dramatic turnarounds! Perhaps he can be recruited to take over the operations of Madison Square Garden. Seriously, kudos to George.

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