The Rolex Awards for Enterprise
Recognized as a leader in sustainability, both in her native Latin America and internationally, Colombian María Emilia Correa has spent her adult life promoting the concept that business should be a positive force for sustainable development. “Profits are a tool that can be used for good, but they should not be the sole purpose of business,” says Correa, who is co-founder and “choreographer” of Sistema B, a new movement of entrepreneurs in Latin America that supports the global community of B corporations ─ companies using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Interested in helping society from her days in the early 1980s as a law student at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and later at The New School for Social Research in New York where she received a master’s in Sociology, Correa embarked on a career in environmental conservation. She first worked with NGO Fundación Natura (The Nature Conservancy), in Colombia, serving as project manager and Executive Director for the conservation of biodiversity from 1984 to 1987. Following a five-year consultancy, she moved on in the 1990s to work for the Colombian Fund for Science and Technology (COLCIENCIAS) and to direct the Colombian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CECODES). From 2000 to 2010, she held several key positions, including as Vice President for Social and Environmental Responsibility at Grupo Nueva; Sustainability Director for Natura Cosméticos in Brazil; and as a partner in TriCiclos, a company bringing scalable solutions to environmental challenges in Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Correa teaches corporate sustainability strategy to graduates in Bogotá and is a visiting professor at several leading universities around the world. Her many written works have appeared in respected journals, and she is a frequent speaker at international seminars. Among Correa’s honours are the Leading Women in Environment Award and the 100 Women Leaders, both in Chile in 2013.