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Lord David Sainsbury

Lord David Sainsbury ’71, former chairman of J. Sainsbury PLC and Minister for Science, United Kingdom

Lord David Sainsbury
Lord David Sainsbury

David J. Sainsbury (MBA ’71) has received the Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics for his longstanding corporate commitment to environmental and other community issues. Mr. Sainsbury is chairman of J Sainsbury plc, a 128-year old retail business that operates not only in the United Kingdom, but through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. (in New England and soon to be in metro-New York) and Giant Foods (Maryland), a company in which it currently has a substantial investment.

Mr. Sainsbury has received wide recognition for his implementation of Integrated Crop Management Strategies (ICMS) for Sainsbury supermarkets in the UK and abroad. By instituting strict pesticide regulations and training for produce suppliers, Mr. Sainsbury’s example has shown that stringent environmental standards are a successful business practice. ICMS involves the introduction of beneficial insects and resistant varieties, forecasting and monitoring techniques, crop rotation and staff training to reduce the need for pesticides. Sainsbury supermarkets audit the farmers and suppliers on a regular basis to ensure they are in compliance with the program.

“David’s commitment to the global community through his environmental initiatives and other charitable work is extraordinary,” stated Professor Meyer Feldberg, dean of Columbia Business School. “He has shown that business leadership is, in fact, more than just running a successful international business. I am proud that a Columbia Business School alumnus is receiving this honor.”

Additionally, through the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Mr. Sainsbury sponsors the Sainsbury Management Fellowship Scheme, a scholarship program designed to support British engineers earning MBAs at major international business schools. His vision for this program is to create a pipeline of talented resources with the intention to improve the economic and ethical performance of United Kingdom engineering, manufacturing, and construction businesses.

Lord David Sainsbury established Gatsby in 1967 when he was 27 years old. He used his own inheritance to do it. In 1993, David Sainsbury made a further gift to Gatsby of over $300 million. At the time, this gift was the largest single philanthropic donation ever recorded in the UK. Each year since then, Lord Sainsbury has donated at least another $10 million to the trust. Gatsby is one of the most interesting grantmaking institutions in the world. First, Gatsby is very focused. Its trustees concentrate on a limited number of areas, such as plant science, mental health, or help to Africa.Second, Gatsby is proactive. Rather than awaiting proposals, its trustees identify areas for action.Third, the trustees are not afraid to experiment and take risks, both of which are generally outside the comfort zone of most government bureaucrats. Finally, the trustees look to the long term. They believe that many things worth changing can take 10 years or more to improve substantially. Clearly defined aims, not the length of the grant, are important to the trustees.

David Sainsbury was educated at Eton and at Cambridge, where he began by reading history but became fascinated by science. He graduated in 1963 with a BA in psychology. In 1971, he received his MBA from Columbia's Graduate School of Business. He joined his family's supermarket business after graduation, rising to become finance director and then chairman and chief executive. In 1997, Prime Minister Tony Blair made him Lord Sainsbury of Turville and, a year later, appointed him as Minister for Science & Technology.

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