Hamdi Ulukaya, founder, chairman, and CEO of Chobani, will accept the Maverick in Leadership Award from the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute during the invitation-only 133rd Yale CEO Summit on June 8 at the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The Maverick in Leadership award will be presented by Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president, and CEO of Ethan Allen; and Danny Meyer, founder and CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group.
Ulukaya founded Chobani in 2005, and since then, Chobani has become one of the fastest-growing food companies in the last decade and a pioneer of the natural food movement. In less than six years, Chobani generated more than a billion dollars in annual sales and today Chobani is the #1 brand in the yogurt category.
Raised in a dairy-farming family in a small village in eastern Turkey, Ulukaya was initially inspired by the mission of making better food more accessible. From the beginning, the company has donated a portion of its profits to charitable causes each year. In addition, Ulukaya implemented a groundbreaking program through which all full-time employees regardless of level became owners in Chobani. He also took the rare step in manufacturing of instituting a six-week, fully paid parental leave program for all the company’s new parentsT.
As the company enjoyed continued success, Ulukaya launched the Chobani Incubator program to mentor and support socially responsible food entrepreneurs and further deliver on the company’s mission to provide better food for more people. Ulukaya founded the Tent Partnership for Refugees to mobilize the private sector to improve the lives and livelihoods of refugees around the globe, and he also signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth to the cause. For these efforts, he was named an Eminent Advocate by the United Nations Refugee Agency. Ulukaya is also a recipient of the Oslo Business for Peace Award and was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work on the refugee crisis and his innovative approach to business.
Summit organizer Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, commented: “Hamdi Ulukaya is living, breathing proof that doing good is not antithetical to doing well. In fact, he has not only brought the American dream to life for himself; he has shared his success with his all constituencies—including his employees, communities, and customers. From his humble roots as a first-generation immigrant who came to the United States with few contacts and fewer resources, Ulukaya has built Chobani into not only a global yogurt powerhouse, but also an inspiring example of the good businesses can do by always putting people first. Whether it is distributing equity to the company’s employees, revolutionizing staid parental leave policies in manufacturing, or launching refugee support, hiring, and training programs, Hamdi lives his core values. We are honored to recognize his courageous entrepreneurial journey and personal heroism in tackling some of society’s greatest challenges.”
The Maverick in Leadership Award recognizes CEOs and leaders who are disruptors, bringing creativity with honorable character into their industries in new ways with global significance. Previous recipients of the award include: Darlene Love, the revered gospel, jazz, and rock and roll icon; Eric Yuan, CEO, Zoom; Reem Fawzy, founder and chief executive officer, Rimo Tours Group and Pink Taxi Egypt; Edward W. Stack, chairman and chief executive officer, DICK’S Sporting Goods; Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Networks, and managing partner, Springboard Growth Capital; Stuart A. Weitzman, founder, STUART WEITZMAN; Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group; John J. Legere, president and CEO, T-Mobile USA; and Alan Patricof, founder and managing partner, Greycroft Partners.
The Summit theme is “The World is Round: Thinking Global Acting Local or Thinking Local Acting Local.” The event promises to be a lively, candid discussion with distinguished global corporate leaders from across industries.
Among those top leaders participating are the CEOs and leaders from: Pfizer; American Airlines; Citigroup; Goldman Sachs; Liberty Media; Molson Coors; AMC Entertainment; Amphenol; Snap-on; Verizon; Marsh; Ethan Allen; Paul Weiss; Lazard; and the Anti-Defamation League as well as 35 major city mayors.
Conference partners include AccuWeather, Alix Partners, Deloitte, Evercore, Gladstone Place Partners, IBM, NewsGuard, Paul, Weiss, Stagwell, and UPS.