“Global Challenges” was the overriding theme of the most recent EMBA-MBA Residential Week, which was held at IUM from 20-24 April.
These challenges were addressed from a Leadership, Innovation, and Sustainability perspective by IUM professors as well as by senior business leaders and pioneers from various sectors in Monaco and from around the world.
The week began with a broad and riveting overview by IUM Professor Bassem Kamar of the ever-evolving global geopolitical and socio-economic landscape. While recent events in the Middle East, Iran, Russia, Greece and China, amongst others, may seem far removed from day-to-day managerial concerns, Dr. Kamar captivated the audience by illustrating the multifarious implications of these unfolding events on risk management, scenario planning, and long term corporate strategies and performance.
Participants were then introduced to the importance of cross cultural leadership and talent development if an organization is to successfully anticipate, navigate and survive such tumultuous and unpredictable times. The first day of the week, which focused on “leadership” challenges, ended with a presentation by the CEO of Monaco Telecom, Martin Perronet. Mr. Perronet spoke eloquently on the very specific challenges of leading a rapidly changing, high-tech organization where continuous innovation is
fundamental to survival.
“Innovation challenges” continued to be the theme of the second day, which opened with a presentation by Jean Francois Carrasco of MENTIS Services Consulting, on “developing smart services for a connected world”. Mr. Carrasco focused in particular on strategies for “smart cities”, the development of which is increasingly posited as one solution for the “environmental challenges” facing the planet. This theme of “environmental challenges” was followed by a presentation on Solar Impulse, the world’s first solar powered aircraft. Mr. Conor Lennon, the Director of Communications for Solar Impulse, enthusiastically proposed that a pioneering spirit, innovation and clean technologies can, indeed, change the world.
A different take on “changing the world” was presented by the next speaker, Professor Louis Fry of Texas A&M University. For him, changing the world can only start from within, in changing oneself by embracing what he called “spiritual” leadership, in which altruism, and not egotism, is the dominant value. He substantiated his thesis by citing several examples of successful “spiritual leadership”. The notions of altruism and capitalism were also addressed by renowned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard in a special conference (CIFA Forum), to which EMBA and MBA students were exceptionally invited, given at Monaco’s luxurious Hermitage Hotel.
The second day ended by taking this holistic theme to a different, more integrated level. IUM Professor Ingo Bobel spoke about creating global shared value, in which companies focus not only creating value for themselves and their shareholders, but also for the community and planet at large. In the process, they too benefit in unexpected ways. This concept was then illustrated practically by Mr. Peter Kutemann, the founder and CEO of Dietsmann, the world’s leading independent energy maintenance company. Corporate social responsibility has always been the cornerstone of Dietsmann’s operations and, as Mr. Kutemann emphasized, it is thanks to this unswerving belief in CSR that Dietsmann has continued to prosper.
The remainder of the week was spent in the business simulation exercise Intopia. In contrast to many business simulation games, teams are not given an existing company but rather need to set one up in a specific value chain. And as these companies are different from one another and often complementary along the value chain, as clients and suppliers across regions, the game is not only about competition, but even more so about cooperation.
All told, by the end of the week the thirty or so Executive and Full Time MBA students came away not only with a better understanding of the integrated challenges facing businesses and their leaders today, but also with some possible solutions in the form of new, and even revolutionary business models.
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