INSEAD Global Business Leaders Conference

Global Business Leaders Conference Held in Abu Dhabi

One of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brought together more than 300 business and government leaders at the 10th INSEAD Global Business Leaders Conference (GBLC).

Held at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, INSEAD’s largest annual event in the Middle East explored four overarching questions: i) how entities in this emerging region are able to innovate; ii) how these organisations are dealing with challenges: iii) how future readiness is ensured; iv) and how the future of talent and careers in the current social, economic, political, and technological changes. 

“I strongly believe that only by acting wisely, will leaders in all walks of life be able to help their organizations advance and flourish and move their communities to focus on issues of common concern. Wise leadership will help us all in seeking solutions for the most important problems of our time. Great leaders know how to anticipate and manage change.  The great leader who founded our country, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, initiated monumental change in the UAE, but he also dealt skillfully with the changing environment and with forces that he did not control. He succeeded because he wassteady, alert, and courageous.  His competence defied belief,” said H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Cabinet Member, Minister of Tolerance, during his inaugural remarks and keynote speech.

Peter Zemsky, INSEAD Deputy Dean and Dean of Innovation, said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.  The increasing loss of trust in traditional business and social institutions has added to uncertainty, but it is also an invitation for bold thinking about renewal and transformation.  Business leaders are well positioned to lead the way!   We are pleased to be hosting an important dialogue on these critical themes for our times.”

Mark Mortensen, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, led a faculty lecture on the topic, Renewing the Organisation, and delivered clear insights on how organisations can re-invent themselves to thrive in the complexity of the 21st century business environment.

The Industry Leaders Dialogue featured prominent speakers who discussed their perspectives on organisational transformation in terms of practicalities, challenges and takeaways while touching on digital disruption, cultural communications, and the differences of regional versus global implementations. “Macro-economic forces led by advancing technology, globalization, and e-commerce are transforming the world and our business,” said Laura Lane, the President of Global Public Affairs at UPS. “We will meet the challenges they present and drive the opportunities they create in order to connect the global community, as UPS has for more than a century, with innovation, investment and the talents of our people.”

At a TED-style session, Pioneering Change, speakers gave their views on entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, renewal, and business as a force for good; offering practical solutions by highlighting the challenges  and success cases in this area, as well as what can the public sector do to help realise potential in the region. As an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, Fadi Ghandour, the Executive Chairman of Wamda Group, “Societal challenges are complex and multi faceted, solving  these challenges  requires participation  from  all stakeholders, the private sector and the entrepreneurial community are natural partners in this journey, they have key resources and capabilities to bring to the table, capital, knowledge, influencer networks and  access, and a solutions based mindset. It is time to be counted!” 

Ronaldo Mouchawar, the Co-Founder & CEO of and Vice President – Amazon MENA, spoke about his passion for entrepreneurship and technology, key challenges and learnings relating to renewal of leadership and lessons for young entrepreneurs, as well as his thoughts on how entrepreneurship in the region will develop: “Every startup has its own set of challenges and the best way to overcome them is to strive to have innovation, long-term thinking, and risk taking as part of your DNA. Customer needs are changing at a rapid speed, so is technology. Entrepreneurs need to be stubborn on the vision and flexible on the details to strive and grow.”

Jose-Luis Alvarez, Senior Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD and The Mubadala Chaired Professor in Corporate Governance and Strategy, gave an informative talk on The Future of Talent and Careers. He helped the audience answer the big question on how managers should think about their professional careers in times when the competencies required of them are evolving. According to Professor Alvarez, “Although senior executives are not under clear and present threat by the fourth industrial revolution (artificial intelligence, robotics, etc.), important changes are already affecting the way they work, and therefore they need to think even more purposefully about how to develop their talents and plan their careers. For this, the key challenge is to balance focus and depth of experience versus range and breadth of learning. At INSEAD we help our participants and alumni to strike that balance.”

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