Click here to view this short historical retrospective of the Deming Cup.
Before the ceremony on October 25, 2022, Provost Mary Boyce of Columbia University hosted a pre-event assembly on Sustainable Practices to Fight the Climate Crisis, where she spoke about the University's work through the Columbia Climate School.
Tim Steiner, CEO and Co-Founder of Ocado Group, and Kathy Warden, Chair, CEO, and President of Northrop Grumman, were honored with the 2022 Deming Cup for Operational Excellence Award in a ceremony at Columbia University's Low Library Rotunda. Previous Deming Cup awardees and members of the Deming Center leadership reaffirmed their congratulations to Tim and Kathy for their sterling leadership as they welcomed them into the Deming Cup and Columbia Business School families.
The evening began with a video from the Chair and CEO of General Motors. 2021 Deming Cup winner Mary Barra opened the awards ceremony by welcoming the winners and commending them for "upholding outstanding merit in operations and fostering a culture of continuous improvement." Before signing off, she said, "Welcome to the Deming Cup family, Tim and Kathy; we are happy to have you and everyone, so please enjoy this evening."
Next, Kristin Peck, CEO of Zoetis, a member of the Deming Center's advisory board, and a CBS alumna, took the stage to speak about how the Deming Center has impacted her career and the company she leads. She referenced Dr. Deming’s beliefs of constancy of purpose, putting the colleague first, and having the colleague define the improvements. She then discussed how past Deming Cup recipients demonstrated that "doing what is right is just as important as doing it the right way."
Opening remarks by Costis Maglaras, Dean of Columbia Business School, gave kudos to the history of the Deming Cup since the award's inception in 2010 and how the current and previous winners uphold the core tenets of Dr. Deming's philosophy around operational excellence and leadership. Costis spoke of Tim and Kathy as "global leaders, innovators, disruptors who represent public and private sectors." Costis also paid tribute to Nelson Fraiman, Director of the Deming Center saying, "It has been a tremendous success for the Deming Center, the school, the university, and our society. Thank you, Nelson, and congratulations."
The evening’s host, Terry Lundgren, former Executive Chair and CEO of Macy's Inc., Co-Chair of the Deming Cup Judging Committee, and 2012 Deming Cup Winner, took the stage. He spoke of his involvement with the Center for the past ten years. He complimented Tim's work saying, "Ocado Foundation, supporting colleagues and charities worldwide where Ocado has operations. Tim has personally led this charge, and the team has raised and contributed hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities." He continued, "Ocado has developed a culture that embraces employee volunteerism and giving back." As for Kathy, Terry said, "she is an excellent Deming practitioner, and Kathy has played a major role in Northrop Grumman's social value creation of now 39 billion dollars including in-kind giving, volunteerism from employees, and charitable contributions from the company and the Northrop Grumman Foundation," Terry then introduced the next speaker.
Omar Besbes, Professor of Business Decision, Risk, and Operations, took the stage to introduce the first awardee, Tim Steiner. Omar spoke of Tim's "bold vision of transforming and affecting an entire industry." Omar spoke about Tim’s life's work of teaching, studying, and spreading operational excellence. Omar then welcomed Tim to the stage to deliver his acceptance speech.
Tim delivered an inspiring speech about Ocado’s accomplishments. He reflected on the Deming legacy and how it is impossible to build a company today without following his principles, whether by knowing what you are doing or by happenstance, as Tim experienced. "For much of our 20-year history, there was skepticism about whether building a profitable business through online grocery was possible. Cutting through the noise to achieve success has required conviction and the drive to constantly improve ourselves daily and a fundamental belief among the leaders in our business in pursuing that quality and continuous improvement. Memories of these challenges make recognition like this from peers and experts in the business world all the sweeter. In corporate leadership, this award is the pinnacle of recognition, and I am immensely proud on behalf of all the people at Ocado to receive this award tonight".
David Abney, former Chair and CEO of UPS and 2019 Deming Cup Winner, took the stage to introduce the next winner. David said he was happy to be back in person for a live event since the pandemic. Then he complimented Kathy on her role as head of Northrop Grumman and her ability to strike an outstanding balance between her personal and professional life. He also mentioned that "since taking over the helm in 2019, Kathy has empowered the Northrop Grumman workforce of over 90,000 to strive for operational excellence in everything they do. Her leadership has made a decisive impact on the company's position for strong growth, and she has fostered an inclusive atmosphere whose continuous improvement equates to shared success. What sets Kathy apart is her passion for excellence. Upon stepping into the CEO role, Kathy immediately launched operational excellence as a company-wide call to action and introduced lead agile methodologies, created a leadership council charged with setting the tone in driving operational effectiveness." David then welcomed Kathy Warden, Chair, CEO, and President of Northrop Grumman, to the stage to deliver her acceptance speech.
Kathy took the stage, thanked David for his warm introduction, and said, "I receive this award tonight not on behalf of myself but on behalf of the 90,000 men and women of Northrop Grumman who have achieved the results on behalf of our customers. We take that responsibility very seriously because we regularly provide products that airmen, sailors, and soldiers use. They can mean the difference between their life or death, and that means that quality must be top of mind for any product that we produce." Kathy also thanked her husband, her son, and her assistant, Jennifer, who were all in attendance. She then continued by saying, "At the same time, some of our work at Northrop Grumman is a mystery; we talked about a few projects tonight, like the James Webb Space Telescope, which produces phenomenal images. It is stationed a million miles from earth, looking back thirteen billion years at the dawn of time. We have engineers and scientists who envisioned that capability and worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition."
The evening was wrapped up by Ken Frazier, former Chair and CEO of Merck and 2022 Deming Cup winner. He said, "The Center's ongoing research in operations management and its commitment to sharing that knowledge not only keeps Deming’s legacy alive but it allows business leaders like us to adapt and learn from giants like Tim and Kathy and pass those benefits on to the next generation of business leaders."
Professor Nelson Fraiman, Director of the Deming Center, delivered the closing remarks. "Kathy and Tim, it is an honor to welcome you into The Deming Center family; you are worthy recipients of The Cup, and perhaps just as important, you both lead with dignity and humanity, truly traits that make you the leaders that you are, thank you."
To learn more about the Deming Cup, please email [email protected].