2017 Honorary Award Recipient: Swizz Beatz

Kasseem Dean ( Swizz Beatz ) is an internationally acclaimed Grammy-Award Winning music producer, global entrepreneur and currently a student in the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program.

In the business world since he was 16, Dean has conceived a myriad of ventures, always starting at the bottom and building them to remarkable success. While still in high school, Dean began deejaying and working at his uncle’s company, Ruff Ryder Records.

Within a short time, Dean produced the company’s first hit, by DMX. More success followed—as a producer and artist. At 23, Dean founded his own record label, Full Surface Records, with Clive Davis and earned a Grammy Award at the age of 33.

As a producer, Dean has worked with a diverse range of artists and some of the biggest names in the world including Jay-Z, Madonna, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Metallica, contributing to the sale over 350 million records sold worldwide.

Dean’s talents and success extend well beyond the music world. A natural observer and strategic thinker, Dean is an innovative fashion designer, collaborating with Reebok, Christian Louboutin, Aston Martin, Lotus, and Audemar Piguet. In 2015, Dean joined global spirit giant Bacardi as their Global Chief Creative for Culture, overseeing more than 300 brands within the company's portfolio.

Believing that art embodies culture and is an expression of life, as a child Dean saw graffiti on the walls in the Bronx and wondered about its meaning. He began collecting art in his twenties, and in 2014 launched The Dean Collection, which is not only a collection of his own artwork but also a discovery zone for art enthusiasts who appreciate art not just from the greats but also from aspiring and new artists alike.

Dean is also involved in many charities, with a particular focus on children: he works closely with his wife’s organization Keep A Child Alive to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa, he adopted the Bronx Charter School for the Arts; is the Global Ambassador for HHC; co-chair of the 2014 Gordon Parks Foundation Gala and serves on the board of Children’s Rights, which provides legal services to foster children to protect their rights. Dean also currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum.

While highly accomplished, Dean remains grounded, authentic, and humble. A role model to many, he is devoted to his family and to the welfare of others— both locally and around the world. According to Dean, “The sky is not the limit; it’s just the view.”

With a true passion for business, no matter the industry, Dean hopes that his success will continue to inspire others.