Distinguished Achievement Awards

Acknowledging outstanding contributions to
management thinking.

about the awards

About the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards

The biennial Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards were created in 2011 to recognise the exceptional contributions of individual thinkers.

Award categories can vary slightly in any given year, but tend to fall into the categories below. Thinkers50 publishes the specific list of upcoming awards, including descriptions of the criteria for each one, during the award nomination period.

Distinguished Achievement Award Categories:

  • Breakthrough Idea Award
  • Coaching & Mentoring Award
  • Digital Thinking Award
  • Ideas into Practice Award
  • Innovation Award
  • Leadership Award
  • Radar Award
  • Strategy Award
  • Talent Award

In addition to the category awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual thinker in recognition of an outstanding body of work over an entire lifetime; and a Founders’ Award is given to individuals in the world of business ideas who provide industry leadership and inspiration.


Recognising an outstanding body of work over an entire lifetime.

The Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management. The first-ever award in this category was given to Charles Handy in 2011. Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award gain automatic entry into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame.

See the complete list of Lifetime Achievement Award recipients


For an individual who has paved the way for thought leadership to flourish.

The Thinkers50 Founders’ Award, introduced in 2019, recognises individuals in the world of business ideas who provide industry leadership and inspiration. It acknowledges the invaluable contribution of the architects who lay the foundations for ideas to flourish. The first Thinkers50 Founders’ Award recipient was Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño, President of IE University.


Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards: The Selection Process

Nominations for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Category Awards are open from May to July in Thinkers50 Awards Gala years (odd-numbered years), and shortlists are announced in late summer. Awards are conferred in November at the biennial Thinkers50 Awards Gala event.

All nominations for the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards are considered by the Thinkers50 Panel of Advisors.

Public participation is an important part of the Awards process. In Thinkers50 Awards years (odd-numbered years) all interested parties are invited to participate in the nomination process by submitting online the names and qualifications of thinkers they wish to put forward for consideration. Nominations from across the globe are accepted – and encouraged.

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards

Selection & Nominations Timeline


The Thinkers50 Distinguished
Achievement Awards have been described by the Financial Times as

The Oscars of Management Thinking

because, like the Oscars, they are highly prestigious in their industry and are presented at a gala event attended by scores of the great management thinkers of our time. The Thinkers50 Awards Gala also features the announcement of the new Thinkers50 Ranking.

for the next Distinguished Achievement Awards

Inside Thinkers50

Season 2

Take a look behind the scenes of Thinkers50, as co-founders Stuart and Des share some illuminating insights on their own ideas of management. With their unique approach on what it takes to run an organisation, you’ll be left in no doubt that they should continue their mission of spotlighting the best management and business ideas of others.

Inside Thinkers50: Series 2, debuted at the 2023 Thinkers50 Awards Gala at London’s Guildhall.

(To be enjoyed with a generous pinch of salt.)

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards 2023 recipients and shortlists

Award recipients

Dedicated to the memory of C.K. Prahalad

Wendy K. Smith & Marianne W. Lewis

for Both/And Thinking

Authors of Both/And Thinking; professors at Lerner College, Delaware, and Lindner College, Cincinnati.


Eduardo Briceño

Karen Dillon and Rob Cross

Karen Dillon and Rob Cross

Brian Evergreen

William D. Eggers and Donald F. Kettl

Martin Lindstrom

Tina Opie and Beth A. Livingston

April Rinne

Wendy K. Smith and Marianne W. Lewis

Marshall Goldsmith Award for Coaching & Mentoring

in partnership with coaching.com

Michael Bungay Stanier

Author of How to Work With (Almost) Anyone; founder of training and development company, Box of Crayons.

Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Award for Coaching & Mentoring 2023 SHORTLIST

Robert Biswas-Diener

Michael Bungay Stanier

Jennifer Garvey Berger

Peter Hawkins

Haesun Moon

David Noble and Carol Kauffman

Jonathan Passmore

Marcia Reynolds

Digital Thinking
award recipients

Paul R. Daugherty & H. James Wilson

Technology leaders at Accenture and authors of Radically Human.

Digital Thinking AWARD 2023 SHORTLIST

Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb

Reid Blackman

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Paul Daugherty &
H. James Wilson

Paul Leonardi &
Tsedal Neeley

Lindsey McInerney

Kate O’Neill

David Rand

Award recipient

Julie Carrier

Founder of the Leadership Development Institute for Young Women.


Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur Competition

Julie Carrier

Carol Fishman Cohen

Christa Gyori and Tatiana Kazakova

Gijsbert Koren

Tashara Leak and Neil Lewis

Fiona Macaulay

Shelley Zalis

award recipient

in partnership with Fujitsu

Sheena S. Iyengar

Author of Think Bigger and The Art of Choosing; professor at Columbia Business School.


Ben Bensaou

Julia Binder

Sheena Iyengar

Jennifer Kenny

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Perry Klebahn and Jeremy Utley

Atif Rafiq

Behnam Tabrizi

award recipient

in partnership with ExecOnline

Kirstin Ferguson

Helping modern leaders leave a positive legacy with head and heart leadership.


Morra Aarons-Mele

Kirstin Ferguson

Frances Frei & Anne Morriss

Heidi K. Gardner

Ranjay Gulati

Céline Schillinger

Sally Susman

James D. White

award recipient

sponsored by Deloitte

Marcus Collins

CSO at Wieden+Kennedy New York, marketing professor, and author of For the Culture.


Jodi-Ann Burey

Marcus Collins

Stephanie Creary

Lily Fang

Mehran Gul

Michaela Kerrissey

Pia Lauritzen

Poornima Luthra


in partnership with Brightline, a Project Management Institute Initiative

Howard Yu

Future-ready strategist and professor of innovation, IMD; author of Leap.


Greg Bernarda

Olaf Groth, Mark Esposito and Terence Tse

Faisal Hoque

Kaihan Krippendorff

Tammy L. Madsen

Mohan Subramaniam

Stephanie Woerner, Peter Weill and Ina Sebastian

Howard Yu


Zeynep Ton

Author of The Case for Good Jobs and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.


Modupe Akinola

Amy Gallo

Ravin Jesuthasan

Michelle P. King

Gorick Ng

Zeynep Ton

Ruchika Tulshyan

Liz Wiseman


Zhang Ruimin

Entrepreneurial founder of the Haier Group; author of Haier Purpose.


Iryna Tykhomyrova

President of the International Management Institute, Kyiv.

Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards

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