Tex Gunning

The Economics of Altruism - Part One

Part 1


“I can't live my life creating the illusion of meaningfulness when deep in my heart I know that every five seconds a child is dying.” So says Tex Gunning, president of Unilever Bestfoods Asia and one of today's most innovative corporate executives. The Dutch-born Gunning has backed up his heartfelt conviction with bold initiatives centered on lofty social goals–initiatives that have been conceived and implemented from within the profit driven framework of a large multinational company. His story has become the stuff of corporate legend and is chronicled in the book, To the Desert and Back: the Story of One of the Most Dramatic Business Transformations on Record.

In this interview with WIE senior editor Elizabeth Debold, Gunning speaks about the inner workings and complex interrelationships of the capital and social markets, his groundbreaking work at Unilever, and the spiritual core at the heart of his life and work. At a time when multinational corporations are often denounced as the root cause of economic inequality in the world today, it is refreshing to hear this veteran corporate insider describe exactly why a competitive edge can also work for the common good, is able to create wealth where none existed before, and can manage to do it all whilst minding the bottom-line. Big business has the power and the influence to do big things—what Gunning and those like him are proving is that with the right vision and motivation, it uniquely possesses the ways and means to tackle some of the most crucial challenges facing humanity today.

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Tex Gunning
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Recorded on: 8/13/2004


Business And Spirituality


The Economics of Altruism - Part One

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