“Leadership Isn’t Possible Without Maximum Ethical Diligence”
Executive MBA graduation on the Madrid campus
Effort, commitment, sacrifice, generosity, consistency and leadership. These were some of the values stressed during the Executive MBA graduation ceremony, held on May 30 on IESE’s Madrid campus. Commencement speaker Helena Revoredo, president of Prosegur, told the new graduates that “leadership isn´t possible without maximum ethical diligence.” “This diligence, in fact, becomes an enormous competitive advantage,” she said.
Revoredo explained how she manages Prosegur, one of Spain’s largest multinational companies, which has operations on three continents and more than 150,000 workers. Born in Argentina, she arrived in Madrid in 1976 with her husband Herberto Gut and the idea of creating a private security company.
After two decades of growth, the company had more than 20,000 employees and was a leader in its sector. In 1987, the firm went public. But everything changed in 1999, when Gut died in a traffic accident. “Great people leave big gaps and his absence threatened to destabilize the company. Within a few months, I began to take decisions and I let myself be guided by intuition and common sense. It turned out well,” she said.
“Doubts affect leadership”
Revoredo discussed some of the basic decisions she made that helped Prosegur become what it is today. From the onset, she was clear on the point that the company was not for sale. “Companies need to have a clear horizon. Doubts influence and affect leadership and the execution of goals,” she said. She also decided to gain an in-depth understanding of the firm. “Commitment is necessary, but not always enough” for success, she said, advising graduates to be wise in knowing their limitations, as well as their possibilities.
In his remarks, IESE’s Dean Jordi Canals expressed his regret that so many companies, which are experiencing “complicated times,” have become the target for strong criticism. “What can we do to help companies recover their reputations?” he asked. IESE’s role in this milieu is to “develop leaders who stand out because they can have a deep, positive and lasting impact on people, companies and society,” he said.
The president of the University of Navarra, Alfonso Sánchez-Tabernero, highlighted the efforts made by participants to complete the demanding Executive MBA program. “Without effort, no one can learn anything,” he said. “We hope that you work with the desire to help others, with gratitude and with optimism. An optimist is someone who knows that it’s worth it to make an effort, because with effort things can advance and improve. Working in this way makes life worth living,” he said.
Executive MBA Director José Ramón Pin noted “the importance of fighting to do things well and helping others.”
“A business leader is a servant whose main goal is to create job opportunities for others. And work is an important benefit in the 21st Century,” he said, also urging the participants to cultivate magnanimity in their lives.
“Be generous, think of others. Give back to society this opportunity that you all have had,” he said, cautioning them that: “Before triumph there is always anguish.” “You will have periods of hardship and calamities. These moments are what will demonstrate your mettle, when you must not lose hope. When you are in distress, IESE will be here. It is your home,” he said.
Finally, Pilar Linares-Rivas, Ángel Martín and Jaime Travesedo, presidents of the graduating class, thanked the professors and staff members of the program for their work. They also expressed their appreciation to their family members and fellow students. “Now, a new era begins and we face it with a sense of freedom, but also responsibility to give back to society what it has given us and always with respect to those around us,” they stated. “Our real journey starts now. It won’t be easy, but we know what the key to success is: work.”