“The Best Role Model is the Servant Leader”

President of March & McLennan Companies addresses MBA grads



“I think the best role model is the servant leader,” Brian Duperrault, president & CEO of Marsh & McLennan Companies, told graduates of the 2013 class of IESE’s MBA Program, on May 10.

“The servant leader recognizes that the team and the team’s success are primary. In order for the team to be put first, the leader needs to be put him or herself second,” said Duperrault, adding that a leader must diminish himself or herself so that the team’s power can grow.

“Extracting the best from the team requires you to care more about them than you care about yourself. You have to be concerned about their work life and their home life. You have to listen to them.”

He also advised them to allow team members to answer questions first. “Even if you think you know the right decision, you must let them offer alternatives,” he said. “This doesn’t mean anarchy. You are still controlling the process. This doesn’t mean indecision. Ultimately, you will make the call. But you will have benefited from their input. You will have done it together and they will support it and work hard to see that it gets done. By the way, you may not always know the answer. That’s okay and it is okay for the team to know that. You are in search of the truth together. That is very powerful.”

Duperrault’s speech was preceded by words from Lola Puerta, representative of the Class of 2013, who thanked IESE’s faculty, Career Services team and MBA Affairs team for their dedication and support.

“It is time for us to give back. We have a responsibility. We need to transform all the lessons learned into results, results that drive and change the world,” she said.

IESE’s Dean Prof. Jordi Canals and Prof. Franz Heukamp, Director of the MBA Program, also spoke during the ceremony.

“Let me highlight one aspect of our MBA program that I consider especially important: personal feedback and mentoring,” said Heukamp. “Nowadays, you can watch video lectures on pretty much any academic topic for free, wherever and whenever you want. But in the educational process it is more difficult to obtain extremely valuable personal conversation with a mentor, faculty member or staff member who knows you and cares about you.”

Dean Canals urged the graduates to keep in mind the true meaning of character, as they set out on future career paths. “Character is sometimes associated with tough decision-making or an aggressive approach, but that is not what it really is,” said Dean Canals. “Character is revealed in the drive to be rigorous, in seeking sound solutions to complex problems, in the quality of our values and the way we consistently maintain them under all circumstances, and in the resolve to do what needs to be done at all times, without thinking about the sacrifice that might be demanded of us.”
Final words of advice came from Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, President of the University of Navarra. He encouraged the graduates to continue learning throughout their lives.

“If we accept the core value of people, we have no choice but to cast our eye on focus on education, that collective undertaking in which people and the government make an effort to offer the best to new generations of young people.”