Monday, April 21, 2008

Visions of Leadership

Last week, we had Visions of Leadership week at HEC. It was a week full of conferences and workshop dedicated to Leadership. Speakers were prominent leaders from industry and government. Some of the people were:

Gerogia Garinois ( President Beauty Care Strategy and New Growth, J&J)
Avivah Wittenberg-Cox ( CEO, 20-first)
Jean Rene Fourtou ( Chairman of the Supervisiory Board, Vivendi)
Henri de Castries (Chairman of AXA group)
Jean Paul Agon (CEO, L'oreal)
Theodore Zeldin (Philosopher)
General Jean-Louis Georgelin (Chief of the Defence Staff, French Army)
and
Valery Giscard d'Estaing (Former President of France)

Each day had a different theme - leadership perspectives, change/crisis management, decision making etc. The speakers talked about their experiences w.r.t to the particular theme.

The opening session was a talk by Mr. Theodore Zeldin. He exposed us to some very basic and probing questions about life and existence and about priorities in life. Time and again, I ask these questions to myself and I think I need to answer these questions again at this point in my life. The last session was by our Dean - Mr. Ramanantsoa. He talked about the power games in an organization and about the different perspectives of managers and leaders. My favorite session was the one by Mr. Jean Rene Fourtou, where he talked about how he turned Vivendi around from the brink of bankruptcy in 2002. The session was full of anecdotes and made us laugh by the way Mr. Fourtou described the series of events during his tenure.

One common thing that almost all leaders talked about was the importance and role of intuition in their decisions. This is an important takeaway for me who always tries to get a detailed analysis of every situation and wants to have an extensive look at data before taking a decision. But as they said, intuition comes with age and I guess as I grow older, I will trust my instincts more often.

Tomorrow, I am leaving for Switzerland on a 5 day trip. Can't wait to get to the Swiss Alps now :)

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