London, 23 November, 2003 - Three of Europe's top business leaders were honoured at an awards dinner in London at the inaugural European Business Leader Awards hosted by The Wall Street Journal Europe and CNBC Europe in association with IMD, one of the world's leading institutions for executive development.
Jorma Ollila, CEO of mobile-phone giant Nokia Corp., was named European Business Leader of the Year 2003 for his excellent track record over the last five years. The independent judges considered that his leadership and long-term vision were behind Nokia's continued success in one of the most difficult market sectors.
Helmut Panke, CEO of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, was voted Customer Value Champion for excellence in customer-focused strategies and new product development. In the opinion of the judges, Dr. Panke has placed customer focus at the forefront of everything BMW does. Flexible manufacturing practices mean that the majority of the company's European customers have their cars built to order. As a result, BMW has remained a clear industry leader, delivering excellent growth and profitability during a challenging economic cycle.
Paul Polman, president of Western Europe for household product behemoth, Procter & Gamble, was named European Business Leader of the Year Global-Local. This award honours the top European manager of a non-European based global company. Polman, who has been with the company since 1979, has built a strong company culture focused on innovation. This has led P&G's European arm to produce excellent sales growth, exceeding that of the company as a whole and beating its competitors. Europe is seen as fertile ground for new product launches and a leading marketer in its sector.
"Increasingly, business leaders in Europe have to compete on a global playing field. We've established this award to reward those who do this best," said Frederick Kempe, editor and associate publisher, The Wall Street Journal Europe. "We at The Wall Street Journal Europe and CNBC Europe, who make it our business to track their work on a daily basis, are delighted to work in partnership with IMD to honour the vision and energy of these global players. It's in no small part a result of the personal drive and commitment of business leaders such as Messrs. Ollila and Panke that European brands are recognised the world over and are at the forefront of innovation. Mr Polman typifies the dynamic European manager who successfully runs a giant operation for an American-based global player."
Peter Lorange, president, IMD, added, "Today, more than ever, leadership is about choices. At IMD we believe that it is strategically imperative to have leadership that is able to make tough choices."