What Legacy Do you Want to Leave Behind?

Citi CEO Francesco Vanni d’Achirafi addresses IESE GEMBA 2016 graduates

06/06/2016 Barcelona

Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi

Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi, CEO of Citi Holdings, “Ask yourself: What legacy do you want to leave behind?” / Photo: Jordi Estruch

Trust, mission and a sense of purpose are the cornerstones of leadership.

This was the message shared by Francesco Vanni d’Archirafi, CEO of Citi Holdings, and member of IESE Advisory Board at IESE in Barcelona.

Addressing the graduating Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) cohort of 2016, d’Archirafi said, “At Citi, everything we do starts and ends with trust. And that trust is the necessary foundation our business.”

The promotion of growth and economic progress, coupled with a strong commitment to the communities they serve, he said, made Citi one of the “best kept secrets in the world of NGOs.”

D’Archirafi pointed to two social projects spearheaded by Citi Foundation to promote employment and entrepreneurial spirit – Pathways to Progress and Junior Achievement Worldwide; projects, he said, that “uncover remarkable people and remarkable achievements.”

“We have over 450,000 volunteers worldwide in these programs, and we reach 10 million young people in more than 100 countries every year. Around 30 percent of our students go on to run their own business following participation in these projects – which is five times the average number.”

Giving back and building trust, said d’Archirafi, undergird good business and form the foundation of a solid legacy.

“So as you graduate today, you should ask yourselves: What legacy do you want to leave behind?”

The best possible outcome, he said, is to keep a focus on serving customers and clients.

Leadership for the Long Term

Leadership as a spirit of service was also one of the key messages from IESE Dean Jordi Canals.

“The mission of IESE is the same today as when we began our journey in 1964. And that is to change and improve society through educating business people.”

“IESE guides leaders to find their mission and purpose so that they can best serve and improve society. And excellence, together with service, he said, is the intrinsic pillar of “any serious professional endeavor.”

"Leadership is anchored in the notion of excellence and service. It’s about what we gain when we serve others much more than when others serve us.”

Canals also emphasized the need to “combine personal and professional lives with good ideals, noble aspirations and still be grounded and have a sense of humility.”

“Success,” he said, “is never the outcome – it is part of the process.”

He urged the graduates to work hard, maintain their ethical values and the sense of being human in a world that at times is inhumane.

“It’s the deep relationships we forge with clients and colleagues that are part of the legacy that we leave behind.”

The dean’s words were echoed by Prof. Govert Vroom, academic director of the Global Executive MBA, and GEMBA Class President, Cristina Ghica, who both urged fellow graduates to seek “excellence, not perfection.”

Vroom also called for a new understanding of leadership as service and urged the cohort of 2016 to “cleave to the spirit of service you have shown over the course of the program.”