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On 25th May, the Palau de Congresos de Catalunya hosted the 22nd ESADE Alumni Annual Conference in Barcelona, an outstanding event which focused on innovation as the secret of success and provided an opportunity for the alumni community to get together.
Two keynote speakers shared their academic and business viewpoints: Prof. Jonathan Wareham of ESADE's Department of Operations, Innovation and Data Sciences, and research and faculty dean at ESADE; and Enrique Lores (MBA 93), president of Image, Printing and Solutions at HP who gave the talk ''What I have learned since I left ESADE'' and received the ESADE 2017 Award for his leading role in one of the largest and most complex corporate splits of all times: the division of Hewlett-Packard into two new Fortune-100 companies: HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
A novel feature at this year’s conference was the entertainment provided by the famous Spanish magician, Jorge Blass with his show ''A different look at reality.''
Xavier Sanchez (Lic&MBA 97 / AMP 08), director of ESADE Alumni, opened the conference by thanking everyone for coming along, and particularly the event’s sponsors and collaborators Caixabank, SEAT and AlfaConsulting for their contributions. He welcomed the new associates taking part and emphasised the important role of class representatives as essential links between classmates.
Joaquin Uriach (MBA 94), president of ESADE Alumni, thanked Enrique Lores for taking part, ''We can say that Enrique is 'one of us'. From our classrooms, from HP in Barcelona he has conquered the world with his professional career. The reasons for our great satisfaction and pride are not simply his career, his promotion and his management position, but the way he has achieved all this, always respecting the values he learnt at ESADE. Values such as personal and professional integrity, simplicity, humility, honesty, respect, social responsibility and the value of human beings.''
He went on to explain the new ESADE Alumni strategy and to outline the need for change, the need for a new strategic approach under the guidance of the board, ''We want to position ESADE Alumni in a new dimension based on creating more segmented and individual value for alumni in order to achieve a more personal association in which each one of you is the focal point. We aim to shift from alumni (plural) to alumnus (singular). Just as ESADE’s strategy focuses on ‘Student First’, ours will focus on ‘Alumnus First’. The technological revolution and today’s VUCA world call for new knowledge, new professions and new professionals. This makes life-long training essential, and this is where ESADE Alumni plays a crucial role, helping you with the on-going education you need and becoming your very own centre of lifelong learning.''
Converting ideas into value
Jonathan Wareham – also the director of the ESADE Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Management – explained how big companies innovate and what we can learn from them. He mentioned the importance of understanding problems that need to be solved and also the open innovation model, a strategy created by Professor Henry Chesbrough in which external professionals are crucial. ''They teach us the right answer and how to follow the rules. Playing helps us break the rules. In this sense, I am optimistic about the new generation of millennials, because they are aware of the world’s current problems and good at questioning established rules,'' he said.
This was following by the presentation of the ESADE 2017 award to Enrique Lores. These ESADE Alumni awards are to acknowledge persons and organizations whose career, activities or services rendered demonstrate the values that define the founding spirit of ESADE and act as a benchmark or example for others.
During his 26 years at HP, Enrique Lores has held leadership positions throughout the organization. He has been the president of its printing business since 2015. Hewlett-Packard did not enter this field until the 1970s but has been a market leader in it for the last thirty years.
After receiving the award, Lores spoke very earnestly to the audience whilst recalling his part-time MBA days at ESADE between 1990 and 1993. ''We worked hard for three years, coming to calle Pedralbes every evening from 7 to 10. Three long years which, in my case, although I should say in our case, was much more bearable because the lady who was then my wife – and still is – took the same course''.
After finishing this master, he had the opportunity to give up his purely technical job and enter product marketing, which he soon realized was one of his passions. This is where his story really begins, because what he learned in those early years in the product marketing department left an indelible stamp on his business approach. ''You understand what the customer really wants, you understand your technology and you learn to think outside the box. I want to talk to you about four essential career tenets: choose your passion, lead with excitement, implement rigorously and enjoy the road.'' He then explained his own experience of applying these principles at HP and the results achieved.
Innovation in our DNA
During her closing comments, ESADE managing director Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73 / PhD 08) expressed her grateful thanks to Enrique Lores for his talk and his fondness for the business school where he took his master. She also remembered the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Manchester: ''We must remain firmly committed to building a fairer society and a world in peace,'' she said.
She then explained ESADE’s plans for the future. ''Like many of your sectors, education is experiencing increasingly fast change. In education, digitisation is not a toolbox that enriches what we were already doing. It is a new learning ecosystem that obliges us to adopt roles and to do things which are very different. In addition, companies need and are hiring new profiles for their teams, resourceful people able to take decisions in complex, uncertain environments, people able to work as a team and who are always connected and always open to change,'' she explained.
To keep ahead of change, ESADE has maximised its globalisation, changed its teaching model and concentrated its efforts on what makes ESADE unique.
Eugenia Bieto believes that innovation is the future or there will be no future. ''ESADE prepares people who are resourceful, flexible and open minded. And many of them are entrepreneurs. But the most unique thing about ESADE is not our innovative talent but our distinct and solid commitment to a form of education based on well-established values.''
Finally, she announced that Joaquín Uriach would replace Manuel Raventós as president of the ESADE board of trustees.
Making impossible things happen
In a world of information overload, unforgettable experiences are very important and magic is one such experience. For Jorge Blass, magic is an art to be experienced live, when what is happening before your eyes cannot be explained. In the last part of the event, the spotlight focussed on the audience. Alumni took part in the magician’s amazing tricks that entertained and fascinated everyone.
The audience then had the opportunity to network whilst sampling products at stands in the Palau exhibition hall (Umaicha, Estrella Damm, Lolea, Demasié and Freixenet); to admire the HP Desk Jet 3720 multifunction printers and the new SEAT Ateca on show in the entrance; and to take photos during the photo call. The amusing selfies were then uploaded to the new ESADE Alumni Instagram account with hashtags #YEStoINNOVATION and #EDayBCN.