“Excellence is the Result of Perseverance”

Abertis CEO Francisco Reynés keynote at GEMBA graduation

05/06/2014 Barcelona

Francisco Reynés

"Excellence is not so much the result of inspiration or a fantastic idea, but rather of persistence." With these words Francisco Reynés, CEO of Abertis, congratulated the 2014 Global Executive MBA class in his keynote speech last Friday.

Seeking excellence, however, is easier than practicing it, and therefore "being clear as to your core values is a great help," he observed. He also encouraged the audience to exercise self-criticism and learn to accept criticism from others, warning that it "is something that often becomes more difficult as you progress up the managerial hierarchy."

Mistakes and setbacks will color all experience, yet luck, observed Reynés, will reward those who are perseverant. "Rafa Nadal, the famous tennis player, who was born in Mallorca, like me, used to say, ‘I don’t know why, but the more I train, the more luck I have and the more games I win.’"

The ability to strive for and achieve ambitious business goals certainly does not occur in a vacuum and this, perhaps, was the central theme of Reynés’ speech. "Build a solid team, if possible, better than you," he advised. "It is not the case that triumph is mine while failure is for the whole team. Successes are for everyone; you must share them and avoid individual glory," he added.

Most of all, no matter how intense the travel schedule and the array of commitments on the agenda, Reynés emphasized that nurturing human bonds should be the top priority, especially when hectic lives are characterized by visiting an airport, the road to the city, an office block or a hotel room. "When I travel, which is 200 days per year, I try to connect with the people I know in the place I’m going. If we can’t meet, even just a Whatsapp or a voicemail can have a huge impact."

The 44 GEMBA graduates who have endured 16 months of intense study and travel to Barcelona, New York, São Paulo, Shanghai and Silicon Valley, are no strangers to the physical distance from family and community that Reynés experiences in his career. In the end, "the real value of the GEMBA is sitting right in front of me," observed Sanaz Amidi, co-president of the graduating class.

GEMBA academic director Sandra Sieber and Dean Jordi Canals echoed a similar sentiment: people and society, whether family, GEMBA classmates, employees or teams, should be at the heart of every professional’s ambitions. "You are leaving this program with an increased sense of accomplishment and noble intentions, not just towards the people in your immediate surroundings, the people you work with and live with, but also towards society in general," remarked Sieber.

Professor Canals reflected upon the inseparable connection between excellence and the people that we serve. "Excellence also means how we add value to other people… Professionalism and the way we treat others in our daily work are key dimensions in our lives. They define us much more deeply than success," he observed. As he closed the ceremony, Canals reminded the program’s 14th graduating class, that, no matter where their careers take them, "IESE is your home, a place where you can always come back and where you will be welcomed."