1,000 Alumni Gather in Munich
Dean Canals calls for business to re-focus on “common good”
(Left to right) Tobias Thelen, Dean Jordi Canals and Professor Eric Weber and at the Global Alumni Reunion 2015 in Munich / Photo: Edu Ferrer
Some 1,000 executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders have gathered in the Bavarian capital to celebrate the “biggest event in the IESE calendar.”
Under the title “Expanding Impact: The Power of Excellence in Business,” delegates are set to hear from prominent business leaders, academics and opinion makers, including Jaime Caruana, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements; Janne Haaland Matlary, Professor of International Politics of the University of Oslo; Hans J. Langer, founder and CEO of EOS; Paul Achleitner, head of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank AG; and Tony Barber, Europe editor and associate editor of the Financial Times.
Dean Canals opened proceedings this afternoon at the Munich campus – inaugurated in June of this year (read news article) and set, he said, to become an “executive education and research hub, serving the needs of business, research and alumni in the region.”
Welcoming alumni, delegates, industry leaders and members of the press, Canals spoke of a sense of “great privilege to celebrate events such as this to share what IESE stands for.”
He set the context for this year’s reunion by highlighting five key “challenges” that characterize the current global economic landscape: the economic slowdown affecting China, Latin America and now extending to the U.S.; the “huge challenge” of job creation and increasing strain on the welfare state; the issue of imbalance in global wealth distribution; a renewed need to improve corporate governance; and the opportunities and challenges represented by digital “transformation.”
Driving the agenda for the future of business education, said Canals, is now “contigent on creating and delivering frameworks that address these issues.”
Joining Canals at the welcome address were Associate Dean, Eric Weber, director of the Munich campus, and IESE alumnus, Tobias Thelen, founder and CEO of Altmann Analytik and graduate of the MBA class of 2006.
The Munich campus addresses a range of strategic objectives the school has in the region, said Weber.
“This is a physical facility from which we are not only able to deliver our growing portfolio of programs, but from which we can also support the host of companies that we are working with who have a presence in Germany.”
The Munich campus, he said, is set to become “a hub for learning and growth” with research centers on “Mittelstand” and family-owned business, as well as business model innovation.
“We are now able to house faculty members who are engaged in relevant business research with real businesses in the region. IESE is a case-method-based school, and our presence in Munich means that we are able to document this business experience – and leverage the findings in our class teaching.”
IESE is poised to become a “player in the Munich business community,” said Weber. “Serving the needs of the business community here through programs, customized programs and research.”
But the impact goes beyond the specific needs of the region too, he added.
“Management education is global in nature, so delivering a sense of global exposure to the experience is key. For this reason we will be bringing elements of other programs through Munich – to enhance the global scope and nature of what IESE offers.” A scope that is also reflected in the international makeup of program participants in Munich-based programs, which drives the “essential interchange of diverse perspective and experience that so characterizes IESE.”
The choice of Munich as venue for this year’s Alumni Reunion was also welcomed by Thelen.
“We are a growing and very active community of IESE alumni in Germany. Celebrating the GAR in Munich is means to connect with our peers, update our knowledge and reap the benefits of IESE’s international influence.”
The Munich reunion is the culmination of more than 10 years of activity in Germany, where IESE offers programs such as the Advanced Management Program, the Program for Management Development and numerous customized programs with companies like Bertelsmann, BMW, Carlsberg, Haniel Group, Henkel, MAN, Opel and Phoenix.
The IESE MBA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, also welcomes approximately 50 German students each year, many of whom have returned to Germany to work in companies such as Allianz, Siemens, EADS, Henkel, BASF, Bertelsmann, Opel, Amazon Bayer, McKinsey, Roland Berger.
“At IESE we believe in leading by example,” said Canals. “We see a role for universities and graduate business schools in the frontline in the fight to restore the reputation of business and uphold a sense of common good.”
He pointed to a defining “sense of purpose.” A purpose, he said, that underpins this year’s Global Alumni Reunion as well as IESE’s presence in Germany and in the wider, international business context.
“We want to instill a sense of professional competence and excellence,” he said, “and to drive the positive transformation in companies.” A mission, he stressed, founded on a “holistic and integrative” view not only of companies as organizations, but of the long-term impact of business on people and on societies.
“It’s a broader perspective that we are looking to foster. Leadership that is based on integrity and values.”