FT envisions Nobel Prize for managers

by Kieran Howells  – HR Grapevine 

The Nobel Prize awards are some of the highest accolades awarded to the public to celebrate significant breakthroughs or consistent innovation in the fields of academia, culture and science.

Since the accolades were created by Swedish Philanthropist Alfred Nobel in 1895, they have honoured the likes of Albert Einstein, T.S. Elliott, Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemmingway.

However, whilst subjects such as physics, literature and peace are taken into account when the awards are dolled out, achievements in the world of business are never on the agenda – leaving many to wonder who may have made the list if such criteria were created.

One such individual is Andrew Hill, Editor at the Financial Times, who recently not only pondered the concept of a Nobel Prize for management but actively created a list of those who, in his mind, were ideal candidates for consideration.


Like all awards, Hill’s Nobel Management Prize needed criteria on which to base his nomination process. To create this, he pondered the following: “I would want to see evidence that nominees were capable of teamwork and collaboration, and that they combined good stewardship — managing their businesses for the long-term — with the short-term decisiveness to cope with urgent crises.

“My screening committee would filter out managers who lacked the necessary empathy to run a 21st-century team and would avoid anyone who had failed to absorb that modern management is these days more about coaching than command and control. Of course, winners would have to conform to Nobel’s overall goal that laureates should have ‘conferred the greatest benefit on mankind’,” he added.

Who made the cut:

Paulo Lemann, Co-Founder of 3G Capital

What Hill said: “Jim Collins, the management writer, continues to laud the talents of Jorge Paulo Lemann, Co-Founder of 3G Capital, the Brazilian investment firm that backed Kraft Heinz and Anheuser-Busch InBev.” 

Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple 

What Hill said: “Prize-winners in 2011, just after his premature death. The Apple boss seemed to me, though, to be the epitome of don’t-try-this-at-home management. His genius is hard to replicate.”

Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox 

What Hill said: “Anne Mulcahy, the Xerox insider who led the imaging company away from near-disaster in the 2000s, earned plaudits for her management style.”

Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

What Hill said: “I’ve admired from afar Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia, for his contrarian “MBA” policy — “management by absence” — exercised while he is surfing or mountaineering, having left the outerwear manufacturer to run itself.”

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon 

What Hill said: “It is difficult to argue with the achievements of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, though his methods are open to attack.” 

Dong Mingzhu, Head of Gree Electric

“I confess to having slightly nervous respect for Dong Mingzhu, Head of Gree Electric, the Chinese manufacturer of air conditioners, for her take-no-prisoners management creed.”