Special Initiatives - C.K. Prahalad Award


The C.K. Prahalad Award was created in 2010 to honor founding CEF Advisory Board member C.K. Prahalad. The Prahalad Award recognizes exceptional, globally significant private-sector leadership that exemplifies sustainability as a key driver of innovation and long-term business success. Honorees may be individuals, companies, or collaborations whose actions to align sustainability and business objectives have produced results in any of the following areas:

  • Groundbreaking innovations
  • Influential “next practices”
  • Industry or value chain-level transformations
  • Problem solving on major global challenges


Winners to be announced during the C.K. Prahalad Awards dinner at CEF’s 10th Anniversary Leadership Retreat on June 20, 2017 in San Francisco CA.


Siemens and CEO Joe Kaeser

Joe Kaeser has been outspoken about the need for the private sector to lead the charge on climate change mitigation, and not wait for an international treaty or new regulations. In a New York Times Op-Ed he boldly stated, “We hope to demonstrate to other companies that cutting your carbon footprint is not only possible, but profitable.”

Under his leadership, Siemens has pledged to cut its own global carbon footprint 50% by 2020 and achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. The company is also leading the way on clean energy by increasing use of distributed energy systems at its own sites, combining solar panels, wind and highly efficient gas turbines with intelligent energy management, smart grids and energy storage solutions, and buying clean power.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

In her role as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres successfully rebuilt momentum towards a positive, universally-agreed global climate resolution, which was accomplished at the conclusion of the twenty-first Conference of the Parties, COP21, where 195 nations unified to adopt the Paris Agreement.

In 2010, Figueres was appointed as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change in the wake of the failed Copenhagen climate conference of 2009. She went on to lead increasingly successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014—all of which paved the way to the Paris 2015 negotiations.

Working tirelessly with allies across sectors, she rallied major companies behind a strong agreement in Paris, backed by meaningful actions including investments in clean energy, avoided deforestation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and innovative green technology.

Douglas Tompkins, Founder, The North Face and Espirit Holdings

Doug Tompkins has been selected for a posthumous C.K. Prahalad Award, following his untimely death in Patagonia National Park last year. Founder of The North Face and Esprit Holdings, Tompkins devoted his life to conservation. His passion and vision resulted in the protection of roughly 2.2 million acres of land throughout Chile and Argentina including Patagonia National Park. CEF was fortunate to witness Tompkins’ work as a part of its 2015 Sustainability Leadership Development Trip to the Park, led by Tompkins’ life-long friend and conservation partner, Rick Ridgeway.

Ridgeway presented the honor in a moving tribute to Tompkin’s many accomplishments. Tompkins founded the Foundation for Deep Ecology, a private charitable foundation that has made more than 1500 grants (totaling more than $52 million) to nonprofit organizations working to protect wilderness and wildlife, promote sustainable agriculture, and more. Doug also founded The Conservation Land Trust, Conservacion Patagonica, and Fundacion Pumalin.

                          Watch the Video Tributes to the 2016 Winners


NRG Energy and CEO, David Crane

Crane was honored for his visionary leadership since taking the reins at NRG in 2003, positioning the company for long-term success, through a business and innovation model guided by sustainability. He has led NRG’s transformation from a regional wholesale generation business to a national, Fortune 200 diversified energy company –now the nation’s largest competitive power generator, and one of the country’s largest owners and operators of renewable generation facilities.

                                     Watch the Video Tribute to the 2015 Winner


Robert B. Carter, Executive Vice President, Information Services/CIO, FedEx Corporation

Robert B. Carter was recognized for guiding the digital transformation of FedEx through technologies that improve data management operational efficiency, helping the company lower costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carter’s accolades include leading his team—in concert with the FedEx Marketing team—in the development and international rollout of SenseAware®, a service that combines sensors and a web platform to track the conditions of shipments around the world, enhancing efficiency. With his leadership, FedEx has spearheaded groundbreaking efforts to reduce energy use and emissions from IT operations. These include a LEED Certified Enterprise Datacenter in Colorado Springs that is among the most energy-efficient in the United States, and systems that help FedEx operations improve routing efficiencies for package pickup and delivery. Carter also pushed FedEx to use Bloom solid-oxide energy cells to power a hub in Oakland, California. Along with a large solar array, the Oakland hub is nearly “grid neutral” for electricity consumption.

Global Water Challenge (GWC)

GWC, a coalition of  leading companies and civil society partners with a presence in over 200 countries, was honored for its progress in inspiring companies and other donors to protect water resources, deliver clean water access, and provide sanitation while sparking social and economic development in areas that need it most. As a result of GWC’s efforts, 418,000 people and nearly 500,000 children have school-based water and sanitation programs in Kenya, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Tanzania, and Mexico; while an additional 32,000 now have safe sanitation. GWC identifies and supports scalable programs that employ innovative financing models to achieve sustainable water and sanitation services in the communities they serve.

Tamara “TJ” DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft

TJ DiCaprio was recognized for being the chief architect and driving force behind Microsoft’s internal carbon fee program. The program charges business units for their carbon emissions from travel and electricity use, then reinvests the proceeds in energy efficiency, clean energy, and carbon offset projects. With a price on carbon, managers are seeing emissions reflected in their budgets for the first time, creating incentives to become even more efficient. To date, the program has funded 20 offset projects across the globe in places like Mongolia, Peru and Turkey; and has also helped fund a 20-year power purchase agreement for 110 megawatts of wind energy in Texas. The program has enabled Microsoft achieve carbon neutrality in fiscal year 2013 and become the second largest user of renewable energy in the United States. DiCaprio has since written the “Carbon Fee Playbook,” a five-step guide for other companies to implement their own internal carbon fee programs.

Watch the Video Tribute to the 2014 Winners


Vidal Garza Cantú, FEMSA Foundation

Vidal Garza Cantú, Director of the FEMSA Foundation, was recognized for being a major force in helping companies understand that well-functioning natural ecosystems are a business and economic imperative, not a matter of philanthropy. Under Garza’s leadership, the FEMSA Foundation helped launch the Latin American Water Funds Partnership, to conserve and restore forests and grasslands around watersheds, safeguarding their ability to offer services such as water retention and filtration without the need for costly and inefficient manmade alternatives. Garza’s charismatic and passionate leadership–coupled with his hardheaded business experience–is influencing companies worldwide to think about the true business value of nature.

Hannah Jones, Nike

As head of Nike’s Sustainable Business & Innovation team, Hannah Jones leads a global team responsible for enabling Nike’s sustainable growth. Her numerous accomplishments include leading Nike to implement the Considered Design standard, which marries performance and innovation with sustainability to create products with a lower environmental footprint, and rolling out its Sustainable Manufacturing & Sourcing Index (SMSI), an innovation that puts environmental and labor metrics on equal footing with traditional supply chain measures of performance. A pioneering champion of transparency, collaboration and open innovation, Jones supported the creation of the LAUNCH 2020 partnership with NASA, USAID and the US State Department to foster and scale sustainable innovation, among other pioneering initiatives.

Kurt Kuehn, UPS

Kurt Kuehn, The Chief Financial Officer of UPS, was honored for being one of the first prominent CFOs in the world to articulate why sustainability is fundamentally linked to a company’s financial success. Kuehn has been vocal in public forums about how sustainability can reduce costs, mitigate risks, generate new revenue opportunities, fuel innovation, and help companies attract and retain top talent. For over a decade, Kuehn has shaped UPS’s sustainability strategy, including their very first sustainability report in 2002. As a CFO, his vocal, visible sustainability leadership is one of the surest signs that UPS is truly building sustainability into its DNA.

Watch the Video Tribute to the 2013 Winners


Neil Hawkins, Dow Chemical

Neil Hawkins, VP of Sustainability and Environment, Health & Safety at The Dow Chemical Company, was recognized for his long track record of exceptional sustainability leadership within and outside of his company. His most recent standout achievement was forging a breakthrough collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to help Dow and other companies recognize, value, and incorporate nature’s services into global business goals, decisions and strategies. Watch video of Neil Hawkins acceptance speech.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition was honored for its pioneering efforts to unite the world’s apparel and footwear companies around a shared vision to reduce environmental harm and have a positive impact on communities. The Coalition is developing an Index to measure the environmental and social performance of apparel and footwear products across the value chain. Since its 2011 launch, the Coalition has grown to include companies representing over one third of the world’s apparel and footwear industry. Watch video of Jason Pearson acceptance speech on behalf of the Coalition.

Unilever and CEO Paul Polman

Unilever and Paul Polman were recognized for matching a bold vision of “long-term capitalism” with equally impressive action. The company’s Sustainable Living Plan sets out ambitious goals for 2020 that build on a long history of commitment and action on corporate sustainability issues including: halving the company’s overall environmental imprint, helping over one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, and sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably. Watch video of CEO Paul Polman’s acceptance speech.

Watch the Video Tribute to the 2012 Winners


Coca-Cola and CEO Muhtar Kent

Coca-Cola and CEO Muhtar Kent were honored for their galvanizing international leadership on critical global environmental issues– including helping catalyze 450 members of the Consumer Goods Forum to pledge net zero deforestation by 2020 in procurement– as well as the company’s comprehensive efforts to embed sustainability intocore business strategy. Video and background


Walmart Brasil and CEO Hector Nunez

Walmart Brasil and CEO Hector Nunez were recognized for historic leadership in galvanizing sustainability supply chain commitments that could be decisive in protecting Amazon ecosystems. Video and background.

About C.K. Prahalad

ck_portraitC.K. Prahalad was the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan specializing in corporate strategy. After decades of interaction with Global 500 CEOs as one of the world’s most well-respected management strategists, C.K.’s passing brought an abrupt end to what would surely have been a successful mission to innovatively expand sustainability agendas in boardrooms and executive suites across the globe. C.K. was also a founding member of the CEF Advisory Board and an active participant in the CEF Annual Meetings. With Ram Nidumolu and M.R. Rangaswami, C.K. authored a 2009 Harvard Business Review cover story, “Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation.” C.K. authored or co-authored many best-selling business books, including Multinational Mission: Balancing Local Demands and Global Vision (1987), Competing for the Future (1994), The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers (2004), and The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profit (2004). A prominent world-class figure, C.K. was named number one in the Thinkers50 (the most influential thinkers in management alive today) poll conducted by Suntop media and the Times of London. He was consulted by the top management of many of the world’s foremost companies. C.K. served on the Board of Directors of Pearson Plc, Teradata Corporation, Hindustan Unilever Limited, TVS Capital and the World Resources Institute.

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