"It Can Be Lonely at the Top"

Global CEO Program building opportunities to learn, share and network


Global CEO Program

The Global CEO Program helps CEOs understand the fast-changing paradigms and new academic models to implement them in their organizations / Photo: Álvaro Motta

CEOs from around the world met at Shanghai's China Europe International Business School for the first module of the Global CEO Program this month.


Over the course of the week-long module, topics of discussion have ranged from ways to expand their companies’ global footprint, to leadership approaches and employee motivation.

“It’s a chance to exchange ideas with other CEOs,” says Michael O’Keeffe, CEO of Emeis Cosmetics in Melbourne, Australia. “This first module on the rapidly changing Chinese economy has been excellent,” he says. “We have really delved deep into China, building our understandings of the challenges, opportunities and misconceptions of this market.”

As the program progresses, O’Keeffe is looking to grasp the global context for his business. “I’m looking for insights into the opportunities, threats and challenges for my business in this environment in the coming years.”

Changing Perspectives

O’Keeffe is one of a diverse group of CEOs embarking on this year’s program looking to better understand the ever-shifting global context in which their organizations operate.

Taking a step back to reflect and analyze the business environment, says O’Keeffe, is a way to “explore new ways to manage an international business, improve organizational effectiveness, and develop leadership qualities.

Ajay Pal Singh Arora agrees. “It’s been 20 years since I last studied management,” says the regional director at Tata Consulting Services, an IT and business solutions company based in Belgium.

The program and peer-to-peer learning will help him understand “the fast-changing paradigms and new academic models and then implement them back in the office.”

International Mindset

The program’s international reach, with modules located in strategic global business hubs, was a key reason for joining, says O’Keeffe.

“The program itself is extremely international with classes in Europe, Asia and the U.S. This is important as the geographical location of each module broadens your perspective.”

The first module represents the Asian leg of Global CEO program.

Further modules are scheduled for the Wharton School in Philadelphia and IESE in Barcelona, later in 2016.

Bringing together CEOs to share ideas, learn from each other and reflect on their leadership abilities is an “almost unequalled experience,” says O’Keeffe.

“The exceptionally high caliber both of participants and professors creates not only a productive learning environment – but also valuable networking opportunities and the chance to help one another.”

After all, “It can be very lonely at the top,” says Arora, something the Global CEO Program looks to challenge.