“The future is not predetermined… It is you that will discover what is ahead of you,” said Dr. Carlos Cavalle, Dean Emeritus of the IESE Business School, during the seminar on “The Future of Business Education in Developed and Emerging Markets” organized by the School of Management.
In his talk Dr. Cavalle emphasized the relevance of lifelong learning in a changing world that has become increasingly fixated on the short-term. “In the last decades, the world has witnessed unprecedented cultural, financial and economic changes that have affected society, universities, and also the global business environment,” he said. “These changes have deteriorated society’s cultural values as well as introduced, among other things, the pressure for short-term gains into our business culture.”
According to Dr. Cavalle, the world, particularly, the Western world, has transformed from a “culture of being,” where individuals were valued for what they were and what they did, to a “culture of having,” where they are judged for what they own, “even though they still owe what they have.” The ideas of saving and investing, he said, have given way to borrowing and spending, “thus, putting at risk future generations who will have to pay our debts.”
Because of these changes, compounded by the impact of globalization and its demand for technical and managerial skills, universities have responded by putting the focus on specialized training and immediate goals over well-structured, long-term learning. However, after going through global financial crises in recent years, the business world is starting to learn its lessons and go back to basics.
“Business leaders are increasingly coming to understand that social and economic progress is not about making money but about creating sustainable value through improving companies’ competitiveness and productivity.” Dr. Cavalle said. “Either way, they understand the importance of getting back to basics.”
“Without competitiveness and productivity, sustainable social and economic progress is not possible,” he said. “To keep up, and to adapt to change, business leaders must continuously update themselves in order to be able to build better and more efficient ways. This is the so-called ‘lifelong learning’ concept, which is one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.”
Decrying universities using the concepts of leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation as mere buzzwords, Dr. Cavalle added that educational institutions cannot form leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators overnight. “We have to approach the problem with a threefold orientation. Developing entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, is not a matter of using analytical techniques, mathematical models or number-crunching, it has to do with knowledge, skills and attitudes,” he said. “You cannot educate managers unless you work on these three things.”
Dr. Cavalle also placed importance on the role of the faculty as the means through which a university channels its values to students. “A business school is a project that’s very, very important for society. This sense of helping the development of society has to be present in the business school,” he said. “Your faculty has to be more aware of this mission of the business school. The purpose of the business school cannot be the same as some investment banks of making as much money as possible. The purpose of the business school is to create learning opportunities.”
Among the things necessary to ensure a successful business, Dr. Cavalle listed having good human structure or having the right people, having good financial structure, and, most importantly, having a good sense of ethics. “If there is no sense of ethics in what you do, deception will take over the organization. The most important enemy of any corporation is deception,” he said. “It departs from reality, and business is about reality. Reality means efficient. It means being accurate.
“A sense of ethics means that you really love truth. In business education, unless you love truth and look for truth, you will not be able to educate.”