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Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: Corporate Influencer Honored for Leading Corporate Withdrawal from Russia

Greatest Impact on Corporate Boards: Jeffrey Sonnenfeld's Remarkable Advocacy and Leadership

Greatest Impact Award

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a seasoned corporate influencer with over four decades of experience, has been awarded the Greatest Impact on Corporate Boards accolade for his exceptional efforts, particularly in leading the corporate withdrawal from Russia following the Ukraine invasion.

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Sonnenfeld’s Leadership

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a fervent champion of corporate social responsibility, has consistently rallied the U.S. business community on pressing global concerns. Whether the topics are immigration, healthcare, racial justice, voting rights, gun control, or the perils of AI, Sonnenfeld assumes a central role in bringing together business leaders to confront these challenges.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How did Jeffrey Sonnenfeld get involved in the effort to lead the corporate pullout from Russia after the Ukraine invasion?

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld became involved when more than a dozen companies unexpectedly pulled out of Russia following the invasion. While he didn’t foresee it, Sonnenfeld took notice of these companies, which included major players like Big Oil and Big Tech, and saw a need to address the situation.

How did Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his team respond to the growing list of companies severing ties with Russia?

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian, director of research at the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute, began to calibrate the truth of what companies had really done. They enlisted 50 students with expertise in various fields, including languages, financial analysis, and industry analysis, to help them distinguish between companies that had genuinely pulled out and those that hadn’t. They aimed to provide accurate information about companies’ actions in Russia.

How did the public list of companies’ efforts to sever ties with Russia impact the situation?

The public list of companies’ efforts to withdraw from Russia catalyzed a stampede of companies leaving Russia. Over 1,100 companies have comprehensively pulled out, with an additional 200 semi-pulling out. This initiative significantly raised awareness and led to a substantial corporate exodus from Russia.

Were there any setbacks or challenges during this effort?

Yes, there were several legal threats, with some smaller European firms being particularly litigious. However, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and his team prevailed due to their thorough research and the transparent posting of their findings for public scrutiny. They also had to deal with entities attempting to hijack the cause with similar-sounding names and commercialize their proprietary data.

How did Jeffrey Sonnenfeld handle entities challenging his research and spreading misinformation?

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld has encountered challenges in the form of misinformation campaigns during his various activist endeavors. For instance, in the case of defending Ellen Kullman at DuPont, he faced false accusations and misinformation campaigns. In response, he worked to correct the record and ensure the truth prevailed.

What was the impact of Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s efforts on the corporate pullout from Russia?

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s efforts played a significant role in mobilizing companies to withdraw from Russia. The public list of companies’ actions raised awareness and led to a substantial number of companies severing ties with Russia, ultimately contributing to the corporate pullout.


Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is the Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management at Yale School of Management, and Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies. Sonnenfeld is best known as the founder and CEO of Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI), affiliated with Yale University.[1]

Sonnenfeld has advised thousands of CEOs as well as multiple U.S. presidents and nominees from both parties, including Joseph Biden, Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton as a conduit between top business and political leaders.[2] In addition to convening regular CEO conferences, in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 United States presidential election and the 2021 United States Capitol attack, Sonnenfeld convened top executives for several high-level, off-the-record discussions to plan the collective response from the business community.[3] He is the first academician to have rung the opening bells of both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, having done so 10 times.[4] Amidst the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sonnenfeld was involved in efforts to encourage multinational businesses to exit Russia through the Yale CELI List of Companies.