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XIX ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Barcelona

22/05/2014 (dd/mm/yyyy) | Barcelona

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XIX ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Barcelona: Europe's industrial challenge
ESADE Alumni, 25 years growing together


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The Palau de Congressos de Catalunya hosted a very special event: the 19th ESADE Alumni Annual Conference, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of ESADE Alumni. The conference featured two exceptional keynote speakers: José Manuel Soria, the Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, who gave a talk entitled "The path toward reindustrialisation"; and Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen AG, who gave a talk entitled "Building a Strong Industrial Base for Europe’s Future". Mr. Winterkorn was, additionally, named the recipient of this year’s ESADE Award for his exemplary leadership in support of innovation and new technologies, for his truly global focus, and for his outstanding achievements as CEO of Volkswagen AG.

Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97/ AMP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni, opened the conference by thanking the audience for coming and acknowledging the event’s corporate sponsors -including "La Caixa" and Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira- as well as other collaborators.

Miguel Trias (MBA 89), President of ESADE Alumni, then took the floor to review the evolution of Europe’s industrial model over the past few years. He mentioned several industrial challenges that have been addressed and highlighted ESADE Alumni’s dedication to European industry: "Taking a broad perspective in the current context, and in association with technology, there is no doubt that industry will remain a key competitive factor for each country. Europe has a clear industrial model to follow: Germany". Mr. Trías highlighted the excellence of the German industrial model, calling it a point of reference for other European countries. More specifically, he praised the model represented by Volkswagen, particularly with regard to two key elements: its excellence and perfection, on the one hand, and its ability to foster constructive labour relations, on the other. He praised Volkswagen for its well-established culture of excellence: "In Catalonia, we have a strong industrial tradition, and many of our industries share this pattern of excellence. Fostering this culture is one of the keys to recovery for Spain’s economy. At things stand right now, Spain has done part of what is needed in order to recover competitiveness: we have reduced the cost of labour. Now comes the harder part: we have to increase the value of people’s work". According to Mr. Trias, promoting and improving human capital is the best investment that a country can make. "This is what ESADE was created for, and what ESADE Alumni wants to promote among its members", he declared. "ESADE has more than 50,000 graduates, scattered across the globe, but we share a common objective, which is to spread the values we acquired at ESADE: excellence in our work, building constructive relationships with our people, and working for the progress of our community".

In line with this objective, Mr. Trias noted that ESADE was able to award 202 scholarships this year thanks to the joint efforts of alumni and corporate donors. The objective of the ESADE Scholarship Programme is to give talented students with limited economic resources the chance to study at ESADE. Mr. Trias highlighted the success of the ESADE Challenge for Talent. That campaign, led by Germán Castejón (Lic&MBA 81), a member of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees, has attracted more than 500 founding donors to the ESADE Scholarship Programme. "Making ESADE better benefits all of us. The talent in our classrooms translates into greater prestige for our degrees and a better position internationally", he concluded.

After the screening of a video that described the evolution of ESADE over the years, Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73/PhD 08), Director General of ESADE, took the floor. Dr. Bieto began by mentioning several significant anniversaries: ESADE Alumni was founded 25 years ago, ESADE Law School just turned 20, and the first ESADE graduating class finished their degrees 50 years ago. "The past is important because it reminds us of our purpose, our roots and our identity", she declared. "But today, we look to the future with determination, more convinced than ever that we play a fundamental role as an academic institution at the service of business and society. The future is full of unknowns, but it also offers great opportunities. Business schools all over the world are undergoing major transformation processes, and ESADE intends to stay ahead of these changes". To do this, she explained, ESADE will need to address three fundamental challenges: first, the technological challenge, by adapting the education sector to the profound digital transformation taking place right now; second, the globalisation challenge, by making a firm commitment to internationalisation; and third, the ‘new society’ challenge, by fulfilling the institution’s responsibility to train great professionals who have a deep sense of ethics. Dr. Bieto wrapped up her remarks with an emotional message for the alumni in the audience: "You are our best ambassadors. You are a fundamental asset for the future of ESADE, for its internationalisation, for forging strong links to the business world, for creating an ambitious scholarship programme – in short, for making ESADE a world-renowned institution. I know that we share the same values and the same dreams. We are all ESADE. Thank you for being here".

Mr. Sanchez then gave the floor to José Manuel Soria, Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, who delivered a talk entitled "The Path Toward Reindustrialisation". Mr. Soria began by praising Martin Winterkorn for his performance at the helm of Volkswagen and for his outstanding professional career. He thanked ESADE for inviting him to speak and mentioned three reasons for the importance of the event: the nature of the organising institution, the high profile of the ESADE Award winner, and the important role played by the automotive sector in European industry. "ESADE is a leading economic institution in training, research and social debate", he declared. "I would like to express my wholehearted encouragement and support in this regard". Mr. Soria then noted that Europe is facing an enormous industrial challenge. He explained that European industry has gradually shrunk as a share of Europe’s economy in terms of GDP – except in a handful countries, including Germany. He discussed how the Spanish economy has changed over the past few years and analysed the effects and consequences of the economic crisis as well as the measures that have been taken to combat it. Despite the considerable imbalances that remain, Mr. Soria argued that the economy is showing positive signs of recovery: "The risk premium has dropped by more than 75%. The interest rate for international financing in Spain is at a historic low, under 3%. There is a surplus in the balance of payments, due primarily to Spain’s increasing competitiveness. The public deficit has shrunk, and the cost of energy has decreased. The recession is behind us. This year, foreign investors are starting to return to Spain – in some cases to the Spanish automotive industry. This is partially due to the structural reforms that have been carried out, but also to the fact that automakers have managed to reach a compromise with their respective workforces about the direction they are taking". Mr. Soria noted that, in order for vehicle-renewal incentive programmes to stimulate auto sales, they need to be efficient. He insisted, however, that such programmes would remain in place.

After Mr. Soria’s address, the 2014 ESADE Award was presented to Martin Winterkorn by Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Trías, Mr. Soria and Manuel Raventós, Chair of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees. The ESADE Awards are sponsored by ESADE Alumni as a means of honouring organisations and individuals whose careers, activities or services have demonstrated the values that define the founding spirit of ESADE Business School and set a good example for others.

Mr. Winterkorn then delivered a keynote address entitled "Building a Strong Industrial Base for Europe’s Future". He began his remarks by sharing some figures to illustrate the magnitude of Volkswagen’s operations in Spain. The automaker manufactures 680,000 vehicles each year in Spain and produces auto parts in Martorell, Barcelona, El Prat and Pamplona. It invests approximately €500 million each year and has a network of 22,000 workers. He described Spain and SEAT as key parts of the corporation’s global growth strategy. He described the German automaker as an “engine” of Spanish industry and highlighted the benefits provided by German industry to suppliers elsewhere in Europe. "If Germany becomes less competitive, France, Italy and Spain will suffer in terms of growth", he explained. Mr. Winterkorn wrapped up his talk by stressing the need for a more industrialised Europe and calling for more industry, innovation and products: "This is something that we can only achieve with reasonable labour costs, a continual increase in productivity and an extra dose of flexibility at companies". He characterised the German model of business cooperation – in which "a company’s managers and workers all row in the same direction" – as a model to follow in Europe. Finally, to complement these objectives, he called for a business environment in which innovation and investment act as fundamental pillars of action.

The conference ended with a ceremony recognising ESADE Alumni’s 22 founding members (Germán Castejón, Rodrigo Rama, Eduardo Aizpún de la Escosura, Miguel Angel Sirera, Pere Fàbregas, Joan Anton Camuñas, Javier Armenter, Francesc Rafart, Josep Maria Baiget, Javier Nieto, Josep Santacreu, Juan J. Brugera, Aleix Carrió, Claudi Anfruns, Josep Maria Serraclara, Juan Ignacio Picayol, Conrad Blanch, José Miquel Navarro, Antoni Aliana, Francesc Xavier Arbeloa, Eduardo Aizpún, Juan Miquel Albouy), who were praised for their important work, role and influence in shaping what ESADE Alumni has become.

Closing remarks were delivered by Mr. Raventós, who underscored ESADE’s commitment to ESADE Alumni: "You are a key part of ESADE. Our goal is to work side-by-side with you, generate mutual understanding, pool our efforts and be efficient. You are an example for us to follow".

Conference attendees had the chance to enjoy the traditional networking cocktail hour after the event. In addition, members of the various graduating classes had the chance to immortalise the moment by taking ‘selfies’ at an original photocall. 



Martin Winterkorn
, Chairman of Volkswagen AG, will be speaking at this year’s Annual Conference titled "Europe's industrial challenge".

Come to the Annual Conference and learn from the experience of professionals like Martin Winterkorn while catching up with fellow alumni and ESADE faculty. And also... We will celebrate ESADE Alumni’s 25th anniversary and we want to share it with you.

Don’t miss this great chance to network and update your knowledge. We hope to see you there!

7.00 pm Doors open

7.30 pm Start of event 

Welcome by Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97/ AMP 08), Director of ESADE Alumni

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

Lecture: "The path toward reindustrialisation" 
By José Manuel Soria, Spanish Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism 

ESADE Award ceremony:
Dr. Winterkorn will receive the award for his exemplary leadership in supporting innovation, new technologies and a truly global approach, and for his outstanding performance as CEO of Volkswagen AG

Lecture: "Building a Strong Industrial Base for Europe’s Future"
By Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of Volkswagen AG

Celebration of ESADE Alumni’s 25th anniversary: recognition of the 22 founding members 

Closing by Manuel Raventós, Chair of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees

9.00 pm Networking cocktail

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