“You Have to Be Always Willing to Learn”

Amadeus CEO, Luis Maroto, adresses EMBA 2015 graduation

02/06/2015 Madrid

Luis Maroto, CEO Amadeus
Luis Maroto, CEO of Amadeus, during the Executive MBA 2015 graduation / Photo: Javier Arias

"When making decisions, today’s managers have to take into account the current climate which is dominated by uncertainty."

Luis Maroto, CEO of Amadeus, shared expert advice with new graduates of the Executive MBA (EMBA) class of 2015 at the graduation ceremony on campus in Madrid this week.

In a rapidly shifting environment, only companies that have the agility to adapt can face the future with confidence, he said. Not an easy task, because change is ever accelerating.

Maroto stressed that managers must always act "with honesty and humility," and be prepared to change course, or ‘tack,’ wherever necessary.

"What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow," he said. "That’s why we always have to be willing to learn. Complacency leads to failure."

An alumnus of the MBA program, Maroto began his professional career with Bertelsmann. After 10 years there he moved to Amadeus in 1999 and held numerous posts at the multinational, before being appointed CEO in October 2014.

"I never thought I would get to where I am now. It’s important to work hard from the start. Give your best and commit yourselves fully to your companies," he told the EMBA graduates.

Leadership: Honest and People-Centered

Organizations without principles or values don’t succeed in the long run, said Maroto.

"Companies exist because they help people to develop as individuals, and because they help society evolve. Individuals will always be the measure of a company’s success, and that’s why we have to understand their needs: the needs of shareholders, of employees, of clients."

According to Maroto, one the key drivers of success is building a human-focused culture that touches all levels of the organization – and ensuring that every employee is a participant in a company’s development. This, he said, should underscore a company’s strategy in attracting and retaining its talent. "Employees as well as clients will always be our best ambassadors," he added.

There are four qualities, or "virtues" that Maroto sees as "fundamental to the DNA of good managers": honesty, authenticity, humility and professional ethics.

"Leadership should always be exercised in an honest and people-centered way. If we know where we want to go and we hold onto our ideas, we will eventually get there," he said.

Business: A Focal Point of Humanity

IESE Dean Jordi Canals echoed the importance of addressing the "human side of business."

"We have to turn businesses into focal points of humanity. Companies should be places where the dignity of persons is respected. This is the only way to advance toward a better society and a better world," he said.

Professor Canals encouraged graduates to cleave to their goals despite the challenges ahead.

"We will only be able to overcome obstacles if we always act with determination," he added. "In business it is essential to set a long-term goal and act according to a set of values. Without them, we can’t move forward. We have to act on behalf of the wellbeing of others, always with an attitude of service."

19 Months That Have Transformed Us Forever

Professor José Ramón Pin, Director of the Executive MBA in Madrid, urged the new graduates to "be generous."

The key to true leadership, he stressed, is delegating success – but not responsibility.

"Now it’s your turn to give back what you have received from society. Do this with magnanimity, without expecting anything in return. Give your time to others. We have prepared you to fly to the highest heights – so go ahead," he said.

Class presidents Lydia Gómez and Jaime Barreiro touched on the many "sacrifices" the cohort had make to meet the challenges of the EMBA – but also the "great sense of pride" in their accomplishment.

"Our 19 months here have transformed us forever. It’s our responsibility to apply what we have learned in our companies and in our lives," they said. "We have acquired a set of competencies and values that will help us perform better in our organizations. Now it’s time to make our dreams reality."