Today’s Trends, Tomorrow’s Opportunities

Executives and Teams at the Fast Forward Program

12/06/2014 Barcelona

Fast Forward Program

How will businesses fare as recovery in Europe inches along and formerly booming growth in emerging economies slackens? What can executives do to shift corporate mindsets as the "internet of everything" looms on the horizon? How can companies drive innovation and at the same time manage increasing complexity?

These are some of the questions that brought 94 senior managers and executives from 22 countries to IESE’s Fast Forward program between June 2 and June 6, 2014. Keynote speakers - Lech Walesa, former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner; Sheila Heen, Founder of Triad Consulting Group; Chairman of the Board BNP Paribas Fortis, Herman Daems; and Steve Capus, former president of NBC News and current executive in residence at IESE– and faculty shared insights on the major trends and global forces that are setting the stage for businesses in years to come.

Between the four plenary sessions, four themed tracks and seven discovery sessions, participants gained insights on a range of topics including global economics, innovation and intrapraneurship, digitalization, risk in emerging markets, commercialization in Latin America, service co-creation, shareholder activism and corporate transparency.

New Horizons, New Synergies

Núria Mas, Associate Professor of Economics, was among the several faculty members who participated in the program. She discussed the red flags to be aware of in years to come: global rebalancing of exports, stunted recovery in advanced economies, risk of deflation within the EU and economic slowdown in China. Meanwhile, Lech Walesa insisted that, despite the areas of concern on the world stage, "we don’t need revolutions, only some corrective measures."

Yet knowing what the right measures are that will allow companies to thrive is as ambiguous as the landscape in which they are operating. For example, many top executives are bewildered by how to manage strategy and the transformation that digitalization demands. Evgeny Kaganer, Associate Professor of Information Systems, led the sessions for the track, "Redesign Your Business for the Connected Customer" and the plenary session "A Leadership Mindset for the Digital World." He urged participants to see beyond the trendsand think about how they need to adjust their value propositions. There is no magic formula since each sector and business has its own unique potential synergies with digital. What all businesses must do, however, is "be able to understand the scope and timing of the impact of digital on your industries," Kaganer advised.

Sheila Heen addressed how feedback is much more than performance reviews and how it tends to get derailed from its ultimate purpose because most people don’t know how to receive it. The topic is of poignant interest to the audience since, as people move up the corporate ladder, "candid feedback becomes more and more scarce," she explained. Steve Capus spoke about the staying ahead of the curve and maintaining a competitive edge in a context defined by a continuous state of flux and fast-paced change.

A Tailor-Made Approach

"Fast Forward offers a compact, highly personalized format that allows global executives to explore the most pressing economic and business trends and to understand how these will affect their businesses. Ultimately, the program enables participants to integrate fresh insights and cutting-edge ideas into their corporate strategy," says Berit Dencker, Associate Director of Open Programs.

Professors Julia Prats, José Luis Nueno, Federic Sabrià and Marc Sachon joined the plenary sessions and themed tracks. Faculty members Javier Estrada (Finance), Pascual Berrone (Strategic Management), Mario Capizzani (Marketing), Javier Zamora (Information Systems), Iñigo Gallo (Marketing), Mireia Giné (Finance), Alejandro Lago (Production, Technology and Operations Management), and Antonio Vaccaro (Ethics) offered optional discovery sessions focused on different topics.

Attending the program with several other management team members is becoming more and more popular. The advantage is not only the chance to gain good coverage of a range of topics that are particularly relevant to the company, but also that teams can request a special session with a professor to discuss a particular company challenge.

"We are very pleased with the feedback we have been getting from participants," said Professor Josep Valor, the program’s academic director. "We believe that moving forward, senior managers and executives will continue to welcome the learning format as a fantastic executive education option to expand their network, tap into new opportunities and understand how to best leverage new technologies and social networks to support their goals."

The next Fast Forward Program is scheduled for September 2015.