Is business success down to people, culture, or a combination of both?
This was the question that emerged from our ‘Overcoming Global Challenges’ event, which took place on 4 July at the University of London.
A high-power panel included former diplomat, Andrew Halper, and Liz Jackson MBE, who shot to fame on Channel 4’s ‘Secret Millionaire’ in 2009.
The event was co-hosted with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) in the context of the new Global MBA.
Introducing the event, Ian Myson, CMI’s Director of Higher Education Partnerships, said the programme was ‘much needed in the global business environment’.
CMI research shows that 75% of employers want to see professional qualifications as well as academic awards. The Global MBA helps graduates to meet those expectations with its CMI Level 7 award.
“Your task is to devise a way to give meaningful example and meaningful engagement to these issues.” – Andrew Halper
It’s all about people
Four business and industry experts shared their insights with the next generation of leaders.
Maggie Buggie (Capgemini) and Liz Jackson (BCMS) championed the power of people – as customers and as employees.
“It’s people that make things happen”, said Buggie (below), an expert in enhancing business performance through digital.
Technology does evolve, but human experience remains vital, she added.
Liz Jackson launched an award-winning company, Great Guns Marketing, during the year when she lost her sight, and ran this for 17 years.
She said people are often anxious of large goals, but good leaders can empower them not to fear failure.
“Unless there’s room to fail, you never hit the really big goals”, she said. “You have to allow people to step outside of their comfort zones.”
It’s all about culture
Andrew Halper (Plumb Line Advisors) and Mike Johnson (Emergence) addressed the value of culture in global environments.
“Culture is everything”, said Halper. “It’s easy to get it wrong.”
Citing the example of China, he said there were areas of the world where you rely more on contacts than rules to get things done, and that there was no easy way around this sort of problem.
“Your task is to devise a way to give meaningful example and meaningful engagement to these issues”, he said.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, echoed Johnson (above), the former CEO of Castrol BP.
He said a challenge for global companies was to find a balance between letting different regions make all their own decisions and imposing a single structure upon everyone.
A large majority of strategy is implementation, he said, which relies a great deal on understanding the local business arena.
So, which is it?