Randall L. Tobias (BS '64, LLD '97)
Academy of Alumni Fellows 1984
A fifth-generation Hoosier, Randy Tobias grew up in Remington, Indiana, graduated from Indiana University in 1964, and then joined Indiana Bell Telephone Company; at the time a wholly owned AT&T subsidiary. Shortly thereafter, he served two years on active duty in the United States Army and was selected to serve as a member of the faculty at the United States Army Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Following his military service, he returned to Indiana Bell and worked for the next decade in a series of telephone company assignments around the state, ultimately becoming responsible for state-wide customer service operations in 1974. In 1977, he was named by AT&T as vice president of Illinois Bell Telephone Company in Chicago.
In 1981, he was moved to the company's New York City headquarters, becoming at age 39, the youngest senior officer in AT&T's history. He later ran AT&T's worldwide long distance and network businesses. He played a major role in leading AT&T through the difficult period following the government ordered breakup of the company in 1984, serving as AT&T's Vice Chairman from 1986 until 1993.
Tobias returned to Indiana in 1993 to become Chairman, President and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company. In the months preceding his arrival, Lilly had struggled with the rapidly changing competitive and governmental policy environments. Under Tobias's leadership, the company experienced a dramatic turnaround and enjoyed one of the most successful periods in its history. In an editorial published in the Indianapolis Star, Tobias was lauded for bringing the right medicine to Lilly and for remarkable results. On January 1, 1999, upon his retirement, he was named Chairman Emeritus.
While at Lilly, Tobias was named CEO of the Year by Working Mother magazine in recognition of his leadership in bringing work/family initiatives to the company and advocating those policies within the US business community. He was also named one of the "Top Twenty-Five Managers of the Year" by Business Week, the 'Norman Vincent Peale Humanitarian of the Year' by the Norman Vincent Peale Foundation, and 'Business Leader of the Year' by the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to having served on the boards of AT&T, Eli Lilly and Company, Chemical Bank of New York (now J. P. Morgan Chase) and Agilent Technologies, Tobias is currently a director of Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Knight-Ridder, Inc., ConocoPhillips Petroleum Company, Interactive Intelligence and Windrose Medical Properties Trust.
For 28 years, he was married to Marilyn Salyer Tobias, who died tragically in 1994 following a long battle with clinical depression. In 1995, Tobias married Marianne Williams, an accomplished concert pianist who performs regularly as a soloist and in collaboration with musicians from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Tobias has two children, Paige, an attorney, and Todd, president and editorial director of Table Moose Media, publisher of Indy Men's Magazine. He lives in Indianapolis.
Tobias has created and funded both the Randall L. and Marianne W. Tobias Fund and the Randall L. Tobias Foundation, which has a particular interest in improving K through 12 education in Indiana.