1987 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"The marketplace always welcomes with open arms someone who can get things done, I’d say to any young person that the opportunities today are as prevalent as they were 50 years ago."
Born in a poor rural area in the hills of Arkansas, Jerry Maulden was only five when his father left the family to search for work during the Depression. Eventually, the family was reunited when Maulden's father found work with the railroad. Although his father died soon after Maulden's high school graduation, Maulden was determined to secure his future with a college education. He attended junior college and worked part time at a bakery and local newspaper. Maulden married at the age of 19 and had two children within two years, but he continued to go to school at night, finally earning a degree in accounting.
One of Maulden's first jobs was as controller for Dillard Department Stores. In 1965, he joined Arkansas Power & Light Company as assistant to the treasurer and chief financial officer. Six years later, he went to the company headquarters in Little Rock as special assistant to the president and chief executive officer. He quickly rose through the ranks, serving as vice president, chief financial officer, and then treasurer. In 1979, he became president and chief executive officer of Middle South Services, Inc., a subsidiary of the parent company. Later that year, he was named president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Power & Light, which was having severe financial problems at the time.
Maulden reorganized the management staff, set new strategic directions, and instituted a structure based on management by objectives. Within five years, Arkansas Power & Light was headed in the right direction. Since then, his company has been recognized as one of the best-managed electric utilities in the nation.
When he looks back over his successful career, Maulden says success is being happy and satisfied with yourself internally. "It's not being rich or heading a corporation that makes you successful," he says, "I'm talking about a life in which you are helping others, and earning respect for what you contribute to society. This kind of success is available to people in all walks of life. It could be a teacher, a firefighter, or a CEO. To make it, you need good moral character, a good education, and you have to work hard. There is no substitute for that."
Of his Horatio Alger Award, Maulden says, "I am as proud of that award as any I've ever received. That one is special because of what the Association stands for-the focus on youth, and the recognition that the American dream is still alive. In America, anyone can be successful regardless of how they started."