Evangelizing “sustainability drives innovation”

After two decades of success as a software executive and investor, M.R. briefly considered retirement. But something in his heart told him he wasn’t done innovating. And as he watched his daughters getting older, he wondered, “What could I do next that would make them proud?”

It didn’t take long for him to throw his energy into work that would help address something both he and his daughters were very passionate about: Reversing climate change and the declining health of our planet’s environment. As a big believer in the power of the private sector to drive solutions, he had a firm conviction that business would be pivotal to shaping the world we wanted for our children and future generations.

To help harness that power, M.R. founded the Corporate Eco Forum (CEF) in 2007, an invitation-only membership organization for Global 500 companies that demonstrate a serious commitment to the environment as a business strategy.  Its mission is to accelerate sustainable business innovation by creating a neutral space for senior business leaders to strategize and exchange best-practice insights.

CEF now counts 70 of the world’s largest companies as members, accounts for $4 trillion in annual revenue, and represents the equivalent of a G7 country in size and scale. With titans like Amazon, Apple, Disney, Fidelity, GM, J&J, Microsoft, P&G, and UPS involved, CEF helps accelerate business innovation and problem-solving around the greatest sustainability challenges of our time.

In 2009, M.R. collaborated with mentor and management professor C.K. Prahalad to co-author the seminal Harvard Business Review article, “Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation.”  The authors were the first to connect the importance of green business strategies to overall corporate strategy and bottom-line impact. More than a decade after publication, it remains one of HBR’s most popular pieces for C-suite and boardroom education on the importance of incorporating sustainable practices into everyday operations. 

After his sudden passing in 2010, CEF honored its founding advisor with the C.K. Prahalad Award. Presented annually to a leader in the private sector that exemplifies sustainability as a driver of innovation, the award has recognized more than a dozen executives from companies such as Nike, Unilever, and Siemens.

Once again, M.R.’s ability to invest in a new sector, direct a pioneering organization, and connect key influencers enabled him to drive success in a globally impactful way. 

His daughters are impressed.