Deming Cup 2021

On October 19, 2021, Mary Barra, chair & CEO of General Motors, and Ken Frazier, executive chairman of Merck, were honored with the 2021 Deming Cup for Operational Excellence at a virtual ceremony hosted by the Deming Center at Columbia Business School. Barra and Frazier, both representing Fortune 100 corporations, were recognized for their efficiency-fueled, employee-empowering, and excellence-oriented leadership positioning their companies for long-term, sustainable success.

Enjoy this multimedia Summary Highlights featuring short videos of the evening’s proceedings.

Professor Nelson Fraiman, director of the Deming Center, commended Barra and Frazier for “being driven by the ethos of continuous improvement,” reinforcing his “strong belief that operational excellence is a key cornerstone of success.” He set the stage for the evening’s proceedings by acknowledging that “By honoring Mary and Ken, we not only salute the spirit of W. Edwards Deming, but we also celebrate his legacy as we pass it on to our students, the next generation of industry leaders.”

Browse through the Program Book to get a sense of the proceedings, speakers, and sponsors for the evening.

The evening began with a soaring historical retrospective of the institution of the Deming Cup, highlighting the voices of each of the previous winners—starting from the award’s inception in 2010—as they connected their leadership to the core tenets of Dr. Deming’s philosophy around operational excellence and leadership.

Click here to view this short historical retrospective of the Deming Cup.

David Niles ‘98, president of G100 Companies, chair of the Deming Center’s advisory board and a member of the Deming Cup judging committee, set the stage for the evening with his welcome remarks, as well as an eloquent, yet concise, overview of the center’s mission and programs.

Click here for a cogent summary of the Deming Center’s work.

Barra was introduced to the gathering by warm testimonials shared by members of the Deming Center family who praised her courageous, humanistic, and visionary leadership: Beth Ford ’95, president & CEO of Land O’Lakes, Terry Lundgren, 2012 winner of the Deming Cup while he was chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc., as well as co-chair of the Deming Cup judging committee, Kristin Peck ‘99, CEO of Zoetis, Quentin Roach, SVP, Global Supply Chain & chief procurement officer of Mondelez, and Pat Russo, lead director of the General Motors board.

Click here to enjoy the brief video Barra’s award presentation.

In keeping with the collective welcome theme, Frazier’s inspiring, people-centered, and social-justice oriented leadership was highlighted in the sincere introduction by his peers and well wishers in the Deming Center family: David Abney, former chairman and CEO of UPS and winner of the 2019 Deming Cup, Ken Chenault, winner of the 2015 Deming Cup while he was chairman and CEO of American Express, Beth Ford ’95, president & CEO of Land O’Lakes, Quentin Roach, SVP, Global Supply Chain & chief procurement officer of Mondelez, and Craig Thompson, president & CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and winner of the 2020 Deming Cup.

Click here to enjoy the brief video Frazier’s award presentation.

Previous Deming Cup awardees and members of the Deming Center leadership reaffirmed their congratulations to Barra and Frazier for their sterling leadership as they welcomed them into the Deming Cup and Columbia Business School family.

Please click here to enjoy their warm and spirited welcome.

The virtual celebration on October 19 featured an insightful and engaging panel discussion with Barra and Frazier moderated by Provost Mary Boyce of Columbia University. This insightful and candid discussion dug deep into the leadership journeys of both awardees, flowing through complementary themes around personal purpose, organizational transformation, social justice, workforce development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Please click here for the full experience of the far-ranging discussion between these three leaders, as well as the audience Q&A that followed.

The evening was aptly, and warmly, brought to a close by Deming Cup judging committee co-chairs Terry Lundgren, chairman of TL Advisors and retired chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc. and Sam Palmisano, chairman of the Center for Global Enterprise and former chairman, president, and CEO of IBM.

To learn more about the Deming Cup, please email [email protected]


Founded in 1993 at Columbia Business School, The W. Edwards Deming Center promotes operational excellence in academia and business by sponsoring applied research and curriculum creation, disseminating best practices, and providing professional development opportunities for practitioners. Previous winners of the Deming Cup include*: David Abney, chairman and CEO of UPS; Juan Ramón Alaix, CEO of Zoetis; Douglas Baker, chairman and CEO of Ecolab; David Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell; Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express Company; Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic; Janet DiFiore, chief judge of the State of New York; Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health; Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE;  Brent James, chief quality officer of Intermountain Healthcare; H. Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson & Son, Inc.; Hubert Joly, executive chairman of Best Buy; Ellen Kullman, chairman and CEO of DuPont; Terry Lundgren, chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc.; Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; Samuel Palmisano, chairman and CEO of IBM; Paolo Rocca, chairman and CEO of  Tenaris S.A.;  Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International; Kevin Sowers, president of the Johns Hopkins Health System; Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons; Craig Thompson, president and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering; and Stef Wertheimer, founder of ISCAR, Ltd.

*Titles of awardees are for the year they won the Deming Cup.

For more information, please email [email protected]