What Makes a Future Leader?
UPS’ Romaine Seguin on the importance of education at MBA anniversary in Miami
“Aspire to get the best education you can,” Romaine Seguin shares leadership advice at MBA 50th anniversary in Miami / Photo: Justine Kang
“Learning how to mobilize your people and get what you need to get done under difficult circumstances – that’s a sign of great leadership.”
So says Romaine M. Seguin, president of UPS International Inc. in the Americas region.
Seguin addressed alumni this week in Miami, to mark the 50th anniversary of the IESE MBA.
Responsible for UPS International’s operations in Canada and Latin America, Seguin took the opportunity to reflect on the characteristics that undergird strong leadership, and drive success in the global economy.
She urged future business leaders to be “open-minded” about opportunity.
“The foundation of my own leadership, and the one piece of advice I give to up-coming managers and students is this: never say no to an opportunity. You never know where it will take you.”
Introducing Seguin and opening the evening’s celebration was IESE Dean Jordi Canals, who added that a sense of “mission, worth and purpose is what truly drives us.”
The MBA program, he said, is “the engine” that has driven the internationalization of the school – an expansion that has taken IESE’s reach both in MBAs and executive education to “cities and countries all around the world.”
Seguin, herself a graduate of the IESE MBA, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of education in her own journey towards senior leadership.
“Education is about discipline. And I believe you should aspire to get the best education you can for yourself,” she stressed, adding that her own education had helped her prepare for and understand what she would be “putting herself through” in terms of personal and professional growth.
“You need a powerful sense of commitment. That’s essential in developing a successful career in any company.”
Seguin’s own professional trajectory has taken her from driving and unloading trucks at 3am, to the ranks of senior executive. Over the last three decades, she says, it’s the bedrock of education, unerring commitment and a willingness to embrace opportunity, that has seen her make this extraordinary transition. The leadership journey, she says, also hinges on being able to develop strong communication skills.
“When I am with managers who are looking to make the transition to more senior leadership I want to understand from them how they will add value in our vision for the future.”
“I want to see how their minds work. How they communicate. And where the next 10 years of thinking is.”
Seguin is clear that she and other business leaders have a duty to pay back the benefits of their knowledge and experience to future generations. Her plan, she says, it to go into education when she leaves the company.
“I think the business world owes that to academia; that you should use your experience to the benefit of business schools, universities or colleges – go back and serve the community.”
It is key, she says, for businesses and academia to work together and find a meeting point to share experience, insight, innovation. “IESE,” she said, “is doing a great job at this.”
Thanking her for sharing these thoughts, Dean Canals took the opportunity to express gratitude to “the entire outstanding community of alumni that exists throughout the world.”
A community, he said, that is “here for the long term. And a community that reflects the IESE mission.”
“We are here because we want to help future business leaders who seek to have a deep, positive and lasting impact on people and on society.”