Bigelow Tea CEO at Iona Discusses Ethical Leadership

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.--()--“Understanding who you are, what you do, and why it matters is key to ethical leadership,” said Cindi Bigelow, third-generation president and CEO of family-owned Bigelow Tea, who spoke at the Iona College series “Advancing Ethical and Moral Leadership.”

“Knowing the source of our ingredients and that they’re grown and harvested in a fair and sustainable way that ensures quality for our customer is vital. Do what you’re supposed to do and don’t cut corners”

“It’s important to have a statement that describes who you are that everyone can rally around,” she said. “We truly care about our consumers, our workers, our community, our product and where our ingredients are grown. Do the right thing and good things will follow.”

Bigelow described taking teams to tea plantations in Sri Lanka and India, to bergamot orchards in Italy and lemon groves in California to see first-hand where ingredients are grown. “Knowing the source of our ingredients and that they’re grown and harvested in a fair and sustainable way that ensures quality for our customer is vital. Do what you’re supposed to do and don’t cut corners,” she said.

Bigelow described the “green teams” at its Fairfield, Conn., headquarters and two other manufacturing plants in the U.S. “Everyone’s committed to doing things responsibly and continually finding ways to make improvements.”

The company has earned the “Zero Waste to Landfill” designation.

Supporting employees, listening to and meeting the needs of consumers, and helping communities are not just the right things to do – they’re good business, Bigelow added.

Iona President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., who launched the series to give practical examples of ethical leadership for young people, said Bigelow Tea is known for being committed to good business practices.

“Cindi and her family clearly exemplify the type of business ethics that we want to instill in students,” Nyre said. “Bigelow Tea, U.S. market leader of specialty teas that produces more than 1.7 billion tea bags annually, offers a perfect example of a company that is successful and ethical in its practices, proving that success and ethics are not mutually exclusive.”

Charles Cante, Ph.D., interim dean of Iona’s Hagan School of Business, added, “Bigelow Tea is known globally for its corporate social responsibility, sustainability initiatives and work with veterans.”

The lecture series at Iona, a private coeducational institution with more than 3,900 students, was inaugurated with a talk by William McGurn, Wall Street Journal columnist and former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. See more about that lecture.

“We believe our students and our nation greatly benefit in learning though the experiences of others how to navigate our complex world where ethics and values often conflict with business situations and decisions,” President Nyre said.

Before being named CEO in 2005, Cindi Bigelow spent 25 years in all areas of the company her grandmother founded in 1945. Employing 350 people, Bigelow Tea is the maker of “Constant Comment” and other teas.

She initiated the Annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge, which has donated $1.2 million to charities since 1987. Bigelow’s Tea for the Troops Project has donated over 4 million tea bags to U.S. servicemen and women.

Founded in 1940, Iona College is a private Catholic coeducational institution 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan with a total enrollment of more than 3,900 students and an alumni base of more than 40,000 across the world. The College is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona’s School of Business is accredited by AACSB International – a highly acclaimed distinction awarded to just 5 percent of business schools worldwide.


Iona College
Todd Wilson, 914-637-2686
Senior Director, College Marketing & Communications (MarCom)