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Mikael Ohlsson, president and CEO for the IKEA Group, received the 2011 Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics, an annual award presented by the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics. Mr. Ohlsson was awarded with the Botwinick Prize for his commitment to ethics, sustainability, and transparency. IKEA's business model aims to make functional, quality design accessible to all consumers, while utilizing the world's resources in a sustainable way.
Mr. Ohlsson was honored with the award on Tuesday, Oct. 25, where he spoke to Columbia Business School students about his 30-year career with IKEA and his dedication to contributing to a better everyday life for people around the world.
In 2009, Mr. Ohlsson became president and CEO of the IKEA Group, which now has 287 stores in 26 countries. Mr. Ohlsson began his career in the carpet department at the IKEA store in Linkoping, Sweden. He is known for his retailing savvy and for being an open and inclusive leader. While using resources wisely has long been a priority for IKEA, under Mr. Ohlsson's leadership the company has strengthened its focus on Sustainability, one of the core long term strategies for the IKEA Group. The company has a long- term goal of using 100 percent renewable energy, and to support this initiative over the next few years solar panel systems are being installed in roughly 150 stores and distribution centers around the world. IKEA also helps customers live a more sustainable life in their homes by offering more sustainable choices, such as energy efficient light bulbs. The company partners with WWF to tackle environmental issues such as climate change, forestry, and responsible production of cotton.
"Mr. Ohlsson is a visionary leader who has shown exemplary success in achieving sustainable practices and transparency to stakeholders," Dean Glenn Hubbard said. "The School is proud to recognize a businessman who is an important role model for our students and the entire business community."
"We at IKEA are honored to have been chosen to receive Columbia Business School's 2011 Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics. The IKEA vision is to create a better everyday life for many people. It is what guides us in everything that we do including the area of ethics. However, we know that there are many things that still remain to be done. I hope IKEA will continue to take a leading role and be an inspiration to others," Mr. Ohlsson said.
The Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics was established through a generous endowment from Columbia University alumnus Benjamin Botwinick and his wife Bessie. Each year, in connection with the prize, six to 10 Botwinick scholarships are awarded to Columbia MBA students. The prizes are part of Columbia Business School's program in business ethics, which emphasizes a commitment to ethical management through the School's core curriculum, extra-curricular activities, faculty-led seminars, and research.
Previous recipients of the Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics include: Peter Blom, CEO of Triodos Bank; Craig R. Barrett, retired CEO and chairman of Intel Corporation; Jeffrey Immelt, CEO and chairman of General Electric; Patrick Cescau, Group Chief Executive of Unilever; James Sinegal, president and CEO of Costco Wholesale Corporation; and Joan Bavaria, founding president and CEO of Trillium Asset Management.