Âriel de Fauconberg has won the Financial Times and McKinsey’s Bracken Bower Award
A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious business book publishing prize for her proposal on the pioneering work of climate change entrepreneurs.
Âriel de Fauconberg was one of three finalists for the Financial Times and McKinsey’s Bracken Bower Award for her book proposal, Before the Dawn: Racing to net zero on the front lines of climate innovation.
The prize, presented on Monday evening, is for the best business book proposal by an author aged under 35. The £15,000 prize was first awarded in 2014 and the prize has been a launch pad for many business books based on winning and shortlisted proposals.
De Fauconberg  is doing a PhD in Management Studies and is also co-founder and research director of the Good Data Initiative, a youth-led think-tank. Her book proposal draws on what she learnt and saw during 18 months embedded in a climate tech accelerator conducting ethnographic work for her doctorate. She describes it as a “candid account of a cohort of climate tech entrepreneurs” as they face up to “the challenges of founding and scaling the innovations needed to navigate the climate crisis and bring society to net zero emissions”.
In an excerpt published on the FT’s site she writes: “These founders were fighting their way to build effective teams that would scale the innovations needed to navigate the climate crisis and bring society to net zero emissions, taking the challenges of entrepreneurship and making it that extra step harder by pursuing environmental change and financial success without sacrificing either.”
Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive of GIB Asset Management and one of this year’s judges, described the proposal as a “standout” account “from the front line of tackling climate change”.
The other two finalists were a doctor who is doing a masters at Harvard and wants to write about healthcare and the pursuit of profit and a Stanford master’s student whose book proposal is on the parallels between Silicon Valley and the Amazon rainforest.
The three finalists were chosen from a shortlist of 11 entries by a jury looking for a proposal that provided a compelling and enjoyable insight into future trends in business, economics, finance or management.
In addition to Garrett-Cox, the judges were: Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School; Rik Ubhi, editorial director of Heligo Books; and Jonathan Hillman, author of The Digital Silk Road, based on his prizewinning proposal from 2019, about the battle between the US and China for control over the next generation of technology.
All the finalists have been invited to a masterclass with publishing industry representatives to discuss how to emulate the achievements of other Bracken Bower entrants in bringing their proposals to the bookshelves.
Saadia Zahidi, the inaugural winner of the Bracken Bower Prize, saw Fifty Million Rising, a book based on her winning proposal, make the long list of the 2018 FT business book award. Meltdown, by Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik, who won the Bracken Bower Prize in 2015, received Canada’s National Business Book Award in 2019. The 2018 winner Andrew Leon Hanna’s 25 Million Sparks, about the rise of entrepreneurs in refugee camps and cities, was published this year.
The Bracken Bower Prize is named after Brendan Bracken, former chair of the FT, and Marvin Bower, former managing director of McKinsey.