Philip Kotler to Receive Thinkers50 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award

Monday 11 October 2021


LONDON – Thinkers50, the global ranking of management thinkers, today announced that Philip Kotler is to be the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award – previously won by Charles Handy, Ikujiro Nonaka, Henry Mintzberg, Michael Porter, Tom Peters and Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

“The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management,” explains Thinkers50 co-founder Stuart Crainer. “Philip Kotler is truly the father of modern marketing.  Marketing Management has been the marketing bible for generations of students throughout the world.  But, much more than that, he has carried on over many decades as a pioneer of marketing in new industries and activities.  He has remained relevant, engaged and curious. To influence practice and theory over such an extended period is a remarkable achievement and to do this through genuinely groundbreaking ideas is even more so. It is a great thrill for us at Thinkers50 to celebrate Philip’s work.”

For over 50 years Philip Kotler has taught at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where he is the S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing.  “I am delighted to receive the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award,” he says. “Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value. In this Age of Disruption marketing is increasingly important.

“The disrupter needs marketing to win new business and the incumbent needs marketing to defend existing business.  Both need innovation and marketing to create value and move forward.  Marketing may take a short time to learn but it requires a lifetime to master.   Business itself is a race without a finishing line. Within five years, if your company is in the same business that you are in now, you’re going to be out of business.”

Professor Kotler’s book Marketing Management is the most widely used textbook in marketing around the world. He received his MA degree in economics (1953) from the University of Chicago and his PhD in economics (1956) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He is author of 80 books, including Principles of Marketing, Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism, Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations, Social Marketing, Marketing Places, The Marketing of Nations, Confronting Capitalism, Democracy in Decline, and Advancing the Common Good.

“When I was ten years old, my father was pursuing an executive MBA. His marketing textbook was Kotler’s Marketing Management, 2nd edition. We did not have any telephone or television in my apartment, the only entertainment was reading. So at the age of 14, I read the Kotler book and became fascinated by marketing,” recalls Nirmalya Kumar, the Lee Kong Chian Professor of Marketing at Singapore Management University who went on to become a PhD student of Kotler’s. “Philip celebrated his 90th birthday this year and continues to inspire millions. I am one of them. He has not only defined marketing and represented the face of marketing since 1960s, but has inspired many other people like myself to follow in his footsteps. The multiplier impact of his book as well as impact on other professors and professional has been in the millions.”

Christian Sarkar has been involved in Philip Kotler’s most recent renaissance.  Over the last six years, the two have worked on projects including, The Marketing Journal, Democracy in Decline,, The Wicked7 Project, and the Regenerative Marketing Institute.  They co-authored Brand Activism from Purpose to Action (2018) and are currently planning other books.  “It is Phil’s deep encouragement and support which opened doors I never could have opened by myself,” says Christian Sarkar. “He genuinely cares about helping others.  His brilliant mind comes second only to his kind heart. Phil has worked tirelessly to make marketing a force for good in the world, and we, the millions he has touched with his work, are truly grateful.”

On Thursday 14 October at 1600 London time (1100 EDT), Philip Kotler will be joined by Christian Sarkar for an hour-long conversation as part of Thinkers50 2021.  Full details about how to join the event and the full Thinkers50 2021 programme can be found at

About Thinkers50
Thinkers50 identifies, ranks, and shares the very best in management ideas. Its definitive global ranking of management thinkers is announced and Distinguished Achievement Award recipients are honoured every two years. The 2021 Thinkers50 ranking and the recipients of its awards will be announced at a two-day virtual event on 15 and 16 November.

Thinkers50 partners include Executive Networks, the Brightline Initiative, the Haier Group, Fujitsu, Management Centre Turkey, 100 Coaches, India’s Institute for Competitiveness and the European Centre for Strategic Innovation.

About Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove
Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer are the founders and directors of Thinkers50. Internationally recognized experts and commentators on management ideas, they are the authors of more than 15 books that have been translated into 20 languages. Former columnists to The (London) Times, they are editors of The Financial Times Handbook of Management. They advise thinkers and organizations worldwide.

Stuart Crainer

(0044) 07767 254602

Des Dearlove

(0044) 07765 405407


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