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VII ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid

29/10/2013 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Madrid

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VII ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid - New Challenges for New Growth


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The VII ESADE Alumni Annual Conference was a night filled with optimism and brilliant ideas. The welcome address was delivered by Xavier Sánchez (Lic&MBA ‘97 / SEP ‘08), Director of ESADE Alumni, who stressed that ESADE works every day to become an active stakeholder in society.

The first speaker, ESADE Alumni President Miguel Trías (MBA ‘89), reflected on Spain and Europe. His message was extremely motivational: “It seems our country is finally getting back on the path towards growth. We have made a considerable effort in recent years, correcting external imbalances and regaining some of our ‘sex appeal’ in the eyes of investors. But let’s not get carried away by euphoria. Spain has a lot of work to do if it wants to give its young people an opportunity – our youth unemployment rate remains higher than 50%. But we shouldn’t become pessimistic, either."

The world is the best it has ever been, and Mr. Trías encouraged the audience to see it that way: “By 2030, it is possible that extreme poverty and hunger will have been eradicated. This is a wonderful development from the human perspective and it promises new opportunities from a labour standpoint. In this context, there are thousands of opportunities for people who are prepared and have initiative. In Europe, it seems that we have lost our glamour. And we talk about this in a self-flagellating way, but we should be committed to it. The European project is the greatest that has ever been created in a democracy, and that offers us many opportunities."

Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA ‘73/PhD ‘08), Director General of ESADE, thanked the members of the audience for their commitment to developing their companies and projects. “It’s true that the environment continues to pose challenges", Dr. Bieto said, “but we must not let the short term hijack our dreams. The future will be built on two pillars: internationalisation and innovation."

She then posed an interesting question: “What do General Motors, Disney and MTV have in common?" The answer surprised many members of the audience: “They were all founded in times of crisis, as were half of all Fortune 500 companies. Recessions accelerate the process of creative destruction, in which the old dies to make way for the new. To do this, we need to focus on innovation and disruption, and we need to tell our leaders that investing in entrepreneurs is a way to invest in the country’s development."

Dr. Bieto also stressed the importance of internationalisation: “Internationalisation is the foundation of the future of business and also the future of ESADE. At our school, we know this, and that’s why we are focusing on Latin America. We have signed eight agreements for joint programmes with universities all over the world."

The next speaker, Rosa García, President of Siemens Spain, gave a talk entitled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution". “The crisis has shown that the countries that are holding up best are the ones that have a very strong industrial base", said Ms. García. “Germany, Japan and the UK have been able to keep 20% of their economies industrial, and they have weathered the crisis better than other countries."

The report “Keys to the Competitiveness of Spanish Industry", written by Siemens, shows that Spain’s GDP has fallen sharply. The report transmits an essential idea: in order to overcome the crisis, Spain must reinvent its industry, and this means reflecting on the country’s problems. “I would like to highlight four problems,¿ said Ms. García. “First, size: we have many small companies, and it has been shown that innovation is better achieved in medium and large companies. Second, low employee productivity: in Spain, productivity is 25% lower than it is in other industrial European countries. This is due to the fact that Spain’s infrastructure and technology is not as advanced as that of other countries. Third, R&D: in the 27-country European Union, Spain is ranked 18th in R&D investment. Without innovation, we’re not going to get very far. And fourth, a very important idea: we have trouble getting from an idea to a patent." In relation to this last point, Ms. García shared a curious fact:  “Siemens is the number-one company in R&D in Europe. We produce more than 4,000 patents each year. In all of Spain, this figure does not amount to even 2,500. Now is the time to take action on this matter. And, of course, we have to invest in R&D&I, especially the ‘I’: innovation, internationalisation, retaining talent, etc."

Towards the end of her talk, Ms. García made some predictions about where industry is headed. “Our buying habits are clearly changing in the 21st century," she said. “Consumers demand unique products, which means that we must offer customised mass production. This is causing a major shake-up, because it means that factories cannot be too far from the customers. We are at a crossroads: Spain must decide whether or not it is going to have industry. Industry 4.0 is extremely tech-oriented, innovative, customised, and customer-centric."

The last portion of the conference featured an interesting panel discussion, entitled “Europe: Challenges and Opportunities", featuring Daniel Calleja, Director General of Enterprise and Industry at the European Commission, and Iván Martén, Senior Partner, Managing Director, and Global Leader of Energy Practice at the Boston Consulting Group. José María de Areilza, Professor in the Department of Public Law and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair at ESADE, moderated the discussion.

The first question posed to the panellists was “What policies for growth should the EU adopt in order to get out of the crisis?" Mr. Calleja responded: “Europe needs to work on the real economy, on being attractive to investors, on its domestic market – we have 500 million consumers – and on innovation, internationalisation and entrepreneurs. If we focus on these variables, we can get out of the crisis."

Prof. de Areilza then asked the panellists to address the question of “clean, cheap energy vs. competitiveness". Mr. Martén replied: “The energy sector has major dilemmas ahead. One has to do with environmental sustainability, and the other has to do with competitiveness. Let me give you two examples: Germany had a diversified energy mix – fossil, nuclear and renewable – but after the Fukushima disaster the government decided to close the country’s 17 nuclear plants by 2022 and is now considering different alternatives. As a result, energy costs for industry have increased by 25%. This has affected the competitiveness of German industry: it’s harder now to compete."

The speakers made the following observation: “In Europe, we need a common energy policy, better links between existing networks, and simpler, more standardised regulations. These measures would cause Europe’s industrial GDP to increase. At the moment, European industrial GDP is below that of the United States, which has used policies that keep energy costs low to create industrial jobs because the labour cost–productivity differential is decreasing."

The speakers provided several illuminating examples, including the Nordic countries: “We’ve all seen how these successful countries have invested in R&D. These were countries that had a lot of exports for the size of their economy. However, over the past 20 years, they’ve lost one million manufacturing jobs due to inflexible labour policies, an aging population and very high wages."

Prof. de Areilza shared three very important figures that illustrate where Europe stands in the global context: the continent has 7% of the world’s population, generates 25% of the global GDP and accounts for 50% of the world’s welfare spending, but nonetheless is home to high levels of citizen disaffection. In light of these facts, Prof. de Areilza posed the following ‘million-dollar’ question to the panellists: “How can we create a sense of belonging? How do we produce Europeans?"

Mr. Calleja replied, ironically, “We don’t have to produce Europeans. We are all Europeans. The crisis has obviously created feelings of distrust towards European institutions, just as it has created distrust towards national institutions. The important thing is that citizens are able to decide what they want European policies to be like."

He added: “I think the best argument in favour of the EU is the chance to be really important in a global world. Any EU member state is just a dwarf on the world stage, but together we are still the world’s leading trading power. And, if we want our companies to grow, internationalisation and free-trade agreements are essential. That’s why Europe is negotiating an agreement with the United States that would eliminate tariffs, deregulate investment, open public markets and allow regulatory cooperation."

Mr. Martén discussed the three key pillars of human, financial and natural resources. “The United States has all three. Emerging countries, such as China, are becoming increasingly technological – global leaders – but they have one disadvantage: natural resources. In between these two extremes, you have Europe. My conclusion is that we need to view Asia not as a threat but as an opportunity. In Europe, we can seize those opportunities and sell our products to the Asians."

The closing address of the 7th ESADE Alumni Annual Conference was delivered by Rafael Catalá, Spanish Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Transport and Housing. His talk was brimming with optimism about Spain’s prospects for moving forward.

“Today, it seems clear that we cannot do things like we used to do them," declared Mr. Catalá. “We are facing great challenges, and only by working together can we preserve the future of our economies. In this context, Spain must also face these challenges and identify its skills and strengths. We’re in the midst of a great recession cycle, but we are starting to see some indicators that show that we are starting to change this situation. We’ve come this far thanks to everyone’s efforts."

Turning his attention to the matter of exports, Mr. Catalá declared: “Exports will allow us to start growing. Executives like me are facing challenges such as mentality management. We need to be able to manage with determination – with a steady hand – and to be leaders. The challenge is not easy, but business schools like ESADE are helping to make this happen."



ESADE Alumni invites you to the VII ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Madrid titled "New Challenges for New Growth".

Europe is facing many political, economic and social challenges. States and citizens alike have developed new attitudes and expectations. The new challenge is to cast aside the outdated economic-growth-based model in favour of a strategy aligned with the challenges and demands of globalisation. Our experts will discuss the keys to developing an intelligent, sustainable and integrated economy - the economy of tomorrow.

Rosa García, President of Siemens in Spain, will open the program of the Conference with her presentation "The Fourth Industrial Revolution". Rosa García points out that talking about the industry is talking about quality of life, wealth, economic development and innovation. The growing importance of the Industry is the starting point of an extensive value chain and therefore the countries with more powerful industrial sectors have been those who have best survived the crisis.

Afterwards, Daniel Calleja, Director-General of the Enterprise and Industry DG at the European Commission, and Iván Martén, Senior Partner and Managing Director. Global Leader, Energy Practice of The Boston Consulting Group, will participate in a panel discussion entitled "Europe: Challenges and Opportunities", moderated by José M. de Areilza, Professor in the Department of Public Law and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair at ESADE. Our experts will discuss the keys to developing an intelligent, sustainable and integrated economy - the economy of tomorrow.

Ana Pastor, Spanish Minister of Public Works, close the session. Then we will offer a network cocktail. 


Make sure to drop by the photocall stand with all your classmates. The most complete group will win a dinner for all those present. Consult the rules here.

We look forward to seeing you there!




7.00 pm  Doors open and guests arrive 

7.30 pm Welcome and introduction:
Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97 / AMP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni

Miguel Trias (MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni
Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73 / PhD 08), Director General of ESADE

7.45 pm Lecture: "The Fourth Industrial Revolution"
By Rosa García, President of Siemens in Spain

8.00 pm Panel discussion: "Europe: Challenges and Opportunities"

Daniel Calleja, Director-General of the Enterprise and Industry DG at the European Commission
Iván Martén, Senior Partner and Managing Director. Global Leader, Energy Practice of The Boston Consulting Group

José María de Areilza, Professor in the Department of Public Law and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair at ESADE 

8.40 pm Closing address: Ana Pastor, Spanish Minister of Public Works

9.00 pm  Networking cocktail

 Follow and participate on the event with the hashtag #JornadaEA

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