August 07, 2018

The W. Edwards Deming Center at Columbia Business School has announced that the 2018 Deming Cup for Operational Excellence will be awarded to Ecolab Chairman and CEO Douglas M. Baker, Jr., and Zoetis CEO Juan Ramón Alaix. Awarded annually since 2010, the prestigious Deming Cup honors leaders for operational excellence and for fostering a culture of continuous improvement within their organizations. 

Professor Nelson Fraiman, director of the Deming Center, commended Baker and Alaix for “creating sustainable, employee-empowered, successful organizations, and more importantly, for doing so through their commitment towards continuous improvement and operational excellence.” 

The co-chairs for this year’s 39-member Deming Cup judging committee, which was comprised of distinguished leaders in industry and academia, were Terry Lundgren, retired chairman and CEO of Macy’s; the late Sergio Marchionne, former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; and Paul O’Neill, the 72nd secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Since becoming CEO in 2004, Baker has strengthened Ecolab’s robust business model, which has consistently delivered results through varying business conditions and market challenges. He instituted a strong culture of continuous improvement and innovation, and transformed the company into a sophisticated global leader with a compelling purpose: to make the world cleaner, safer, and healthier. Baker’s leadership demonstrates the power of purpose, vision and culture in driving performance; the imperative of an unrelenting focus on serving customers well; and the importance of continually moving beyond the status quo by embracing a “measure, manage and improve” mindset.   

Thanking the committee for the honor, Baker said, “Our talented associates are the most important factor in our success, and I’m proud to accept this award on their behalf. Our global team is driven to deliver ever more value to our customers in our quest to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier. We’re motivated by our purpose, committed to continuous improvement, and inspired to make the world a better place, every day.” 

As Zoetis’ founding leader after its spinoff from Pfizer in 2013, Alaix devised a roadmap for establishing the stand-alone company while preserving the customer relationships and key capabilities that would be critical to its long-term success. Focusing on Zoetis’ three interconnected capabilities – direct sales, R&D, and high-quality manufacturing – Alaix has delivered strong financial results and maintained Zoetis’ market leadership position.

The Deming Cup will be presented to Baker and Alaix during a reception on Oct. 23, 2018, at Columbia University.

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 are Dave Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell; Ken Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express Company; Dr. Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic; Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE; Dr. Brent James, chief quality officer of Intermountain Healthcare; Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson; Ellen Kullman, chairman and CEO of DuPont; Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; Sam Palmisano, chairman and CEO of IBM; Paolo Rocca, chairman and CEO of Tenaris; Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International; Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons; Stef Wertheimer, founder of ISCAR; and committee co-chairs Terry Lundgren and the late Sergio Marchionne.


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