CEO Magazine - Volume 43

Page 1








Career-boosting master's & MBA programs Taught in English International community of 100+ nationalities Live it. Shape it. Lead the change. Barcelona · Geneva · Munich · Digital Campus



Stephen A. Miles & Nathan Bennett




1 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43



26 2 22
Mark Bateman

Classmates today. Network for life.

AT DREXEL UNIVERSITY’S LEBOW COLLEGE OF BUSINESS, our AACSB-accredited Executive MBA (EMBA) and Executive DBA (DBA) will provide you with diverse perspectives and support while you learn how to develop evidence-based solutions, drive organizational change and lead a better world.

Drexel LeBow’s executive programs offer:

• A cohort model.

• Part-time, hybrid formats.

• Research-active faculty at an R1 university.

• Leading-edge curricula and industry connections.

• A diverse, global network.


“I was blown away by the caliber of my cohort. Upon meeting them, I knew that my EMBA education would come from both the professor and the classroom experience.”

KARLA TROTMAN, EMBA ’15 President and CEO Electro Soft Inc.

The program’s culture of care stood out — showing there is more than an academic process, there is actually a family — and the beauty is it goes across students, lecturers and all administrative team.”

NATHAN BROWNE, DBA ’23 Regional Director

SaturnFive Consulting





CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS


PAY INCREASES WWW.AIB.EDU.AU INCREASED CONFIDENCE #1 MBA IN AUSTRALIA1 100% ONLINE more people choose AIB than any other institution. for flexible study schedules. 96% of graduates said the MBA increased their confidence2 33K average increase since starting the MBA2 1. The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. 2. Source: 2021 AIB Alumni Insights Report



CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 6 46 50

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8 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 TABLE OF CONTENTS 64
CONTRIBUTORS 55 WINNING THE GAME OF BOARDROOM CHESS Michael Jarrett, Andy J. Yap, and Curtis LeBaron 60


Victor J. Callender

Group Editor-in-Chief

Alexandra Skinner


Krysia Whicher


Gemma Westwood


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Published by CEO Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the expressed approval of the copyright owner. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the Publisher accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions. The Publisher disclaims responsibility for the views and opinions expressed herein by the contributors. Furthermore, the Publisher does not give any warranty regarding the accuracy thereof.

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Torrens University Australia Ltd, ABN 99 154 937 005, RTO 41343, CRICOS 03389E. Information provided in this document is current at the time of publishing (January 2024). T0360


Among the many responsibilities facing CEOs is building and leading an effective top management team (TMT). That effort is becoming ever more challenging. As business leaders increasingly characterize their operating environments as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA), the diversity and intensity of issues requiring attention at the top has grown. In response to increasing demands on the TMT, the C-suite has expanded to include titles well beyond the traditional CFO, COO, and CIO. This expansion has looked different by company, but not too long ago, C-suite specialists appeared in areas such as human resources, legal, marketing, and strategy. More recently, C-suites may include executives responsible for areas ranging from diversity, safety, and data to user experience, culture, and happiness. It won't be long before the widespread adoption of Chief Artificial Intelligence Officers takes place.

Each newly created C-suite position is an acknowledgement by the CEO that business complexity is increasing and that further differentiation among executives is necessary to address it. And with each new member, coordinating the TMT's efforts becomes more difficult. We aim to provide leaders with a way to recognize and preempt the inevitable challenges confronting today's more complex C-suite. We do this by examining the central challenge – balancing the two essential requirements for effective C-suite performance: differentiation and coordination. We use an afternoon at a university swimming pool as a metaphor where three sporting events illustrate the nature of differentiation and coordination.

Differentiation and Coordination

The primary reason people organize is to accomplish something each cannot do alone. By working together, individuals can achieve more significant goals. Working together means everyone must understand

who does what, when, and to what end. The TMT operates this way, too. The complex nature of leadership requires tasks to be broken into manageable pieces and allocated to experts who each focus on their piece, with distractions minimized. However, the benefit of differentiation comes at a cost –anything broken down into smaller parts needs coordination and aggregation to become complete work. Goals are achieved only through effective differentiation of activity and coordination of output. As the task of differentiating responsibility among members in an expanding C-suite becomes more complicated, so, too, does the thoughtfulness and discipline necessary to coordinate the TMT's effort.

Envisioning a busy day at a university's swimming pool provides images to efficiently communicate the challenging nature of TMT differentiation and coordination. Imagine one afternoon the university is hosting a swim meet among several universities. In individual races, swimmers are assigned a lane. At the sound of the starting gun, each athlete expends their energy, talent, training, and attention to swim fast. What happens in other lanes has little bearing beyond as a source of performance feedback and motivation. In such events, there is differentiation across swimmers (strokes, distances), but there is no requirement for coordination among them. However, consider the next event: a medley relay – a race involving a sequence of swimmers, each swimming a different stroke. The four strokes - back, breast, butterfly, and freestyle – reflect differentiation. In this relay, the slight coordination required at the transition between each leg of the race is a critical but minor feature of the performance. Without successful coordination, the differentiated efforts of each swimmer have no value, no matter how outstanding they are, because the team would be disqualified. These two swim meet metaphors represent some of the work of TMT members and the

“Understanding the differentiation and coordination associated with each executive's responsibilities challenges the CEO, especially as the C-suite continues to expand in response to ever more complex business conditions. ”
10 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43

resulting need to attend to differentiation and coordination. At times, executives perform independently and are themselves responsible for performance. At other times, executives require limited coordination with others to produce the organization's desired outcome.

Now imagine that evening the university water polo team is hosting their cross-town rival for a match. The swim lane marker buoys are reeled in, water polo goals are floated into place, the teams warm up, and the match begins. As was true earlier at the swim meet, the participants are all powerful in the water. How they deploy that strength to accomplish victory, however, is different. Water polo players do not simply dive into their lane at the sound of the starting gun and swim. Water polo requires much more from swimmers than speed through the water; it requires considerable real-time management of differentiation and coordination.

Though there are established positions in water polo, play is fluid. During the match, swimmers may find themselves behind the play in a defensive position or driving the ball for an offensive attack. The team can't win if everyone drives to the net to score or hangs back at the mid-pool, ready to defend. Throughout the match, swimmers must understand how to

11 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43
"The hallmark of a highperforming team is its members' ability to leverage healthy friction regarding the best path forward without tolerating corrosive interpersonal friction.”

leverage their presence while recognizing how to adjust based on what everyone on both teams is doing. Winning relies heavily on how well each swimmer has executed both differentiation and coordination in supporting or leveraging the play of others.

Understanding the differentiation and coordination associated with each executive's responsibilities challenges the CEO, especially as the C-suite continues to expand in response to ever more complex business conditions. In simpler times, the structure of C-suite work more closely resembled a swim meet. Here, executive work is highly differentiated and requires little coordination. As a result, selecting the best candidate is straightforward - the fastest is best. When the required collaboration is minimal – as in a relay - the selection metric is nearly as simple. However, when tasks are highly interdependent and performed in a rapidly changing environment, the 'best athlete' is no longer easy to identify. This is the challenge faced by today's CEO. Increasingly, it is necessary to consider whether prospective TMT members have demonstrated an ability to recognize and respond positively to the demands of differentiation and coordination and to do it in a way that is characterized by positive interactions among the team.

When the Game is Water Polo, Friction is the Threat to Differentiation and Coordination Whenever people work together, some level of interpersonal tension is to be expected.

On the one hand, we understand tension is a key driver of progress in all walks of life – musicians, coders, comedy writers, and executives will all acknowledge that many inspired achievements are the results of what they might call 'creative conflict.'

were many instances where Bryant was capable of scoring points without much help from teammates. From an organizational structure standpoint, he was able to play effectively with one or two teammates and still prevail in his efforts to score against five defenders. Perhaps there are some C-suite teams that can succeed while only leveraging a fraction of their members, but that is unlikely to be the case among most. When work is this interdependent, cordoning off the friction-prone executive will likely overwhelm other team members. Failing to do so will breed discontent.

Many pundits warn leaders never to tolerate executives who cause friction – such executives may be referred to colloquially as 'jerks.' This isn't necessarily bad advice, but because it is an oversimplification, it would be easy to find taking the advice too constraining. What makes someone a jerk is subjective, situationally dependent, and variable over time. To me, your jerk may be an interesting provocateur. Some industry or organizational cultures support and even reward aggressive or assertive behavior that in a different workplace would create friction.

The hallmark of a high-performing team is its members' ability to leverage healthy friction regarding the best path forward without tolerating corrosive interpersonal friction. One CEO explained that a top management team succeeds when members' go hard on ideas and light on people.' For CEOs, the ongoing challenge is the ability to manage friction while understanding the risks it poses to a TMT that sometimes participates in a swim meet and other times plays water polo. And to do so as the number of active players grows and grows, increasing the complexity of both differentiation and coordination.


Stephen A. Miles is the founder and CEO of The Miles Group, headquartered in New York, NY.

Nathan Bennett


a Professor at Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business in Atlanta, GA.

On the other hand, we also understand that sometimes, instead of providing an energizing force, tension feeds friction that erodes trust, destroys communication, and prevents any breakthrough progress. Nowhere are these two faces of tension more critical to manage than among a group of achievers charged with the high-stakes task of leading an organization. Interpersonal friction becomes much more challenging to manage when the needs for differentiation and coordination are both high, as they are in a water polo match. Kobe Bryant, a longtime superstar for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, was never shy in expressing his view that some teammates had not earned the right to be passed the ball. He pointed to what he felt was their insufficient work ethic; that lack of effort meant they could not be trusted. This lack of trust is what puts differentiation and coordination at risk when interpersonal friction sets in between members of the C-suite. Fortunately for the Lakers, there


Today's growing TMT operates in a tumultuous business environment. If complexity rises, the need to create a more highly differentiated TMT will continue. More and more of the team's work will resemble water polo, not swim meets. Managing differentiation and coordination in a fluid and high-stakes environment means friction can less likely be managed by simply sending a team member off to swim in their lane. Thus, CEOs face two challenges. First, they must understand when the TMT needs to operate as a swim team or a water polo team and to deftly orchestrate 'changeovers' from one to another, just like the staff at the university pool. Second, CEOs must quickly recognize when efforts to manage differentiation and coordination create unproductive friction among C-suite members. Not every top management team will succeed despite friction the way Kobe Bryant's Lakers often did.

12 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43


The benefits attached to an MBA are well documented: career progression, networking opportunities, personal development, salary... and the list goes on. However, in an increasingly congested market, selecting the right business school can be difficult, which is far from ideal given the time and investment involved.

Using a ranking system entirely geared and weighted to fact-based criteria, CEO Magazine aims to cut through the noise and provide potential students with a performance benchmark for those schools under review.



American University: Kogod

Arden University

Aston Business School

Auburn University: Harbert North

Audencia Business School

Australian Institute of Business Australia

Bentley University: McCallum North America

Boston University: Questrom North America

Brunel Business School UK

Bryant University North America

Business School Netherlands The Netherlands

California State University-Chico North America

California State University-Long Beach North America

California State University-San Bernardino North America

Central Queensland University Australia

College of William and Mary: Mason North America

Concordia University Canada

Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins North America


Darmstadt Business School Germany

Drexel University: LeBow North America

Duke University: Fuqua North America

Durham University Business School UK

EAE Business School Spain

EBS Business School Germany

École des Ponts Business School France

EU Business School Germany, Spain and Switzerland

Florida International University North America

Florida Southern College School of Business North America

Fordham University North America

Georgia State University: Robinson North America

Grenoble Graduate School of Business France

Griffith University Australia

HEC Montréal Canada

Hofstra University: Zarb North America

Hult Internatonal Business School North America

IAE Business School Argentina

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 13
0 % 5 % 10 % 15 % 20 % 25 % 30 % 35 % Weighting of Data Points (full-time and part-time MBA) 34.95 % 9.71% 9.71% 8.74% 7.76% 5.83% 4.85% 4.85% 4.85% 4.85% 3.8% Quality of Faculty: International Diversity: Class Size: Accreditation: Faculty to Student Ratio: Price: International Exposure: Work Experience: Professional Development: Gender Parity: Delivery methods: *EMBA Weighting: Work experience and international diversity are adjusted accordingly.
MBA Weighting: Delivery mode removed. Business School Country
Beirut Beirut
North America
Business School Country


Business School Country

IFM Business School Switzerland

INCAE Business School Costa Rica

ISEG Portugal

ISM International School of Management Germany

Jacksonville North America

John Carroll University: Boler North America

Kennesaw State University North America

Kent State University North America

La Trobe University Australia

Lagos Business School Nigeria

Lancaster University Management School UK

Leeds University Business School UK

Loyola Marymount University North America

Loyola University of Maryland North America

Maastricht University School of Business and Economics

The Netherlands

Macquarie Business School Australia

Marquette University North America

Massey University New Zealand

Millsaps College North America

Munich Business School Germany

Nebrija Business School Spain

Newcastle University Business School UK

Nyenrode Business University

The Netherlands

Oakland University North America

Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America

POLIMI School of Management Italy

RMIT University Australia

Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders North America

Rome Business School Italy

Rutgers Business School North America

Saint Joseph's University: Haub North America

SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland

Seattle University: Albers North America

Simon Fraser University: Beedie Canada

Spain Business School Spain

Strathclyde Business School UK

Suffolk University: Sawyer North America

Swinburne University of Technology Australia

Texas State University: McCoy North America

The Global MBA

(Technische Hochschule Köln, University of Warsaw and University of North Florida)

Asia, Germany, Poland & North America

The Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) Mexico

The Lisbon MBA Catolica|Nova Portugal



Appalachian State University

Northwest Missouri State University

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater



Business School Country

The University of Liverpool Management School UK

The University of Texas at Dallas: Jindal North America

The University of Texas at San Antonio: Alvarez North America

Torrens University Australia Australia

Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland

United International

Business Schools

Belgium, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland

University at Buffalo School of Management North America

University of Akron North America

University of Alberta Canada

University of Baltimore North America

University of Canterbury New Zealand

University of Chile FEN-UCHILE Chile

University of Cincinnati: Lindner North America

University of Delaware: Lerner North America

University of Denver: Daniels North America

University of Exeter UK

University of Kentucky: Gatton North America

University of Louisiana at Lafayette North America

University of Louisville North America

University of Maine North America

University of Massachusetts-Lowell North America

University of Michigan-Flint North America

University of New Mexico: Anderson North America

University of North Carolina-Charlotte: Belk North America

University of North Florida: Coggin North America

University of Oklahoma: Price North America

University of Ottawa: Telfer Canada

University of Portland: Pamplin North America

University of PretoriaGordon Institute of Business Science South Africa

University of Sheffield Management School UK

University of South Australia Australia

University of Tampa: Sykes North America

University of Texas at Arlington North America

University of the Witswatersrand South Africa

University of West Georgia North America

University of Western Australia Business School Australia

University of Wollongong

Sydney Business School Australia

Victoria University Business School Australia

Waikato Management School New Zealand

Willamette University: Atkinson North America

Xavier University North America

University of North Texas


14 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43
School Country
North America
North America
North America Business School Country
North America
North America *Some data unavailable
Commonwealth University*


Rank Country

1 University of Ottawa: Telfer

= 28 Marquette University North America

= 28 Georgia State University: Robinson North America

France and Spain

2 The Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) Mexico 3 École des Ponts Business SchoolEada Business School Global MBA 4 IFM Business School Switzerland

5 SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland

6 Rutgers Business School North America

7 The University of Texas at San Antonio: Alvarez North America

8 Maastricht University School of Business and Economics

9 Nyenrode Business University The Netherlands

10 Arden University UK

= 11 Kennesaw State University North America

= 11 Massey University New Zealand

= 12 INCAE Business School

= 12 TBS Education France

= 13 Hult Internatonal Business School North America = 13 University of Denver: Daniels North America

14 AIX Marseille Graduate School of Management France

15 Strathclyde Business School UK = 16 Business School Netherlands The Netherlands = 16 Audencia Business school France

17 Grenoble Graduate School of Business France

= 18 University of PretoriaGordon Institute of Business Science

= 18 Drexel University: LeBow

19 Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

20 University of Wollongong Sydney Business School

21 Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland

22 Washington State University: Carson North America = 23 University of Bradford School of Management Dubai = 23 POLIMI School of Management Italy

24 IAE Business School Argentina

25 American University of Beirut Beirut

= 26 Villanova University North America

= 26 EAE Business School Spain

27 The University of Texas at Dallas: Jindal North America

29 Hofstra University: Zarb North America

30 Concordia University Canada 31 United International Business Schools

32 University of Tampa: Sykes North America

33 Baylor University: Hankamer North America

34 Simon Fraser University: Beedie EMBA & EMBA-IBL Canada

35 Jacksonville University North America

36 RMIT University Australia

= 37 Spain Business School Spain

= 37 Oakland University North America

= 38 Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America

= 38 Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders North America

39 Millsaps College North America

40 Aston Business School* UK

41 College of William and Mary: Mason North America

42 The Lisbon MBA Catolica|Nova Portugal

43 Fordham University North America

= 44 Durham-EBS Executive MBA Germany and UK

= 44 California State UniversitySan Bernardino North America

45 University of Texas at Arlington North America

46 Duke University: Fuqua North America

= 47 Suffolk University: Sawyer North America

= 47 Virginia Commonwealth University* North America

48 University of Oklahoma: Price EMBA Energy & Aerospace & Defence North America

= 49 Seattle University: Albers North America

= 49 University of New Mexico: Anderson North America

50 Florida International University* North America

51 University of Alberta Canada

52 Lagos Business School Nigeria

53 Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins North America

54 California State UniversityLong Beach North America

44 Auburn University: Harbert North America

56 Xavier University North America

57 Saint Joseph's University: Haub* North America

15 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43
The Netherlands
Costa Rica
North America
data unavailable
Belgium, Italy Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland


Belgium, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland

16 Macquarie Business School Australia

17 Virginia Tech: Pamplin North America

18 Griffith University Australia

19 University of South Australia Australia

= 20 POLIMI School of Management: Flex EMBA Italy

= 20 Drexel University: LeBow North America

21 Jack Welch Management Institute North America

22 Torrens University Australia Australia

23 University of Denver: Daniels North America

24 Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America

27 University of Cincinnati: Lindner North America

= 28 John Carroll University: Boler North America

= 28 Instituto Europeo de Posgrado Spain

29 Purdue University: Daniels North America

= 30 Jacksonville University North America

= 30 Florida Southern College of Business North America

31 University of Maine North America

= 32 Rochester Institute of Technology: Saunders North America

= 32 Suffolk University: Sawyer North America

= 33 Rome Business School Italy

= 33 La Trobe University Australia

= 34 University of Exeter UK

= 34 University of Kentucky: Gatton North America

35 Aston Business School UK

= 36 EAE Business School Spain

= 36 University of MassachusettsLowell North America

38 Washington State University: Carson North America

39 American University of Beirut Beirut

40 Central Queensland University Australia

= 41 Spain Business School Spain

= 41 Central Queensland University Hyperflexible MBA Australia

42 Victoria University Business School Australia

43 Marquette University North America

44 RMIT University Australia

45 Kennesaw State University North America

= 46 University of Delaware: Lerner North America

= 46 California State UniversitySan Bernardino North America

= 47 Kent State University North America

= 47 University of Louisville North America

48 American University: Kogod North America

= 49 Oakland University North America

= 49 Bryant University North America

50 California State UniversityLong Beach North America

51 The University of Texas at Dallas: Jindal North America

52 University of North CarolinaWilmington: Cameron* North America

53 California State University-Chico North America

54 Seattle University: Albers North America

55 University of New Mexico: Anderson North America

56 University of North CarolinaCharlotte: Belk North America

57 Colorado Technical University North America

58 University of Michigan - Flint North America

59 Georgia WebMBA (Columbus State University, Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, University of West Georgia, Valdosta State University)

North America

60 Hofstra University: Zarb North America

61 Swinburne University of Technology Australia

62 Bentley University: McCallum* North America

63 University of Louisiana at Lafayette North America

64 University at Buffalo School of Management North America

65 Auburn University: Harbert North America

66 Xavier University North America

67 Loyola University of Maryland North America

68 University of North Texas North America

= 69 University of WisconsinWhitewater North America

= 69 University of Baltimore North America

70 University of Oklahoma North America

71 Appalachian State University* North America

72 Florida International University* North America

73 Australian Institute of Management Australia

74 University of Akron North America

75 Virginia Commonwealth University* North America

76 Saint Joseph's University: Haub* North America

77 Northwest Missouri State University North America

78 University of Texas at Arlington North America

37 Simon Fraser University: Beedie Canada Rank Country

16 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 Rank Country
EU Business School Germany, Spain and Switzerland 2 Hult Internatonal Business School North America
INCAE Business School Costa Rica 4 Maastricht
University School of Business and Economics The
5 OBS Business School with Universitat de Barcelona, Global MBA Spain
School Germany
6 Trinity College Dublin School of Business Republic of Ireland = 7 SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland = 7 Nebrija Business School Spain 8 Business School
9 Darmstadt Business
Spain 11 The University of Liverpool Management School UK = 12 Massey University New Zealand = 12 Arden University UK 13 POLIMI School of Management: I-Flex EMBA Italy 14 United International Business Schools
10 OBS Business School with Universitat de Barcelona, EMBA
15 IAE Business School and Emertitus
Australia =
Durham University Business School UK
25 Australian Institute of Business
= 26 University of Bradford School of Management
*Some data unavailable


Based upon accreditation, quality of faculty, geography, and international standing, this year’s Global DBA Listing is designed to showcase the market’s premier DBA providers.

Business School

Aberdeen Business School UK

Abu Dhabi University United Arab Emirates

Antwerp Management School Belgium

Aston Business School UK

Athabasca University Canada

Audencia Business School France

Baruch College, City University of New York: Zicklin North America

Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston North America

Beirut Arab University Lebanon

Birmingham City University UK

Bournemouth University UK

Business School Lausanne Switzerland

Case Western Reserve University: Weatherhead North America

Centrum PUCP Graduate Business School Peru

City University of Hong Kong China

Concordia University Canada

Copenhagen Business School Denmark

Creighton University: Heider North America

Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins North America

DePaul University: Kellstadt North America

Drexel University: LeBow North America

Durham University Business School UK

Ecole Des Ponts Business School France

Emlyon Business School Global DBA Asia Track China & France

EU Business School Germany, Spain and Switzerland

Florida Institute of Technology: Bisk North America

Florida International University North America

Franklin University North America

GBSB Global Business School Spain

Georgia State University: Robinson North America

Grenoble Graduate School of Business France

Harvard Business School North America

Heriot Watt University Edinburgh Business School UK

Hong Kong Baptist University China

Hult International Business school North America

IE Business School Spain

ISM International School of Management Germany

International University of Monaco Monaco

IPAG Business School France

Jacksonville University North America

Kennesaw State University: Coles North America

Kingston University

Lagos Business School

Leeds Metropolitan University

Leeds University Business School

Liverpool John Moores University

London Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Massey University

Northumbria University

Nottingham Trent University

Nyenrode Business University

Oklahoma State University

Pace University: Lubin

North America

North America

Paris-Dauphine PSL University France

Business School Country

Pepperdine University: Graziadio North America

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile Chile

Rennes School of Business France

Sacred Heart University: Welch North America

SBS Swiss Business School Switzerland

SDA Bocconi Schoool of Management Italy

Sheffield Hallam University UK

St. Ambrose University North America

St. Thomas University North America

Swinburne University of Technology Australia

Teesside University UK

Temple University: Fox North America

The Durham DBA at Fudan Fudan

The Global DBA Durham-Emlyon UK and France

The University of Liverpool Management School UK

Thomas Jefferson University North America

United Arab Emirates University UAE

United Business Institutes Belgium

United International

Business Schools

Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Japan

University College Cork Republic of Ireland

University of Bath

University of Bedfordshire

University of Birmingham

University of Bolton

University of Bradford School of Management UK

University of Calgary: Haskayne Canada

University of Dallas: Gupta North America

University of Florida North America

University of Glamorgan


University of Gloucestershire UK and Germany

University of Hertfordshire

University of Huddersfield

University of Manchester: Alliance




University of Maryland Global Campus North America

University of Missouri-St. Louis North America

University of North Carolina-Charlotte: Belk North America

University of Otago Business School New Zealand

University of Pittsburgh: Katz North America

University of Portsmouth

University of Pretoria:


Gordon Institute of Business Science South Africa

University of Reading: Henley Business School


University of Rhode Island North America

University of South Florida: Muma North America

University of Southern Queensland Australia

University of Surrey


University of Tampa North America

University of Western Australia Australia

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater North America

Victoria University Business School Australia

Virginia Tech: Pamplin College North America

Vlerick Business School Belgium

Walsh College North America

Washington University in St. Louis: Olin North America

Zurich University of Applied Sciences Switzerland

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 17
The Netherlands

The business arena of the 21st century has been a whirlwind of perpetual upheaval, disruption and cutthroat competition that transcends borders. A storm of rapidly evolving technologies, yoyo-ing economic conditions, fickle consumer behaviors and intensifying sustainability crises has given rise to an environment characterized by incessant flux.

In this era of constant dynamism and volatility, the traditional commandeer approach to leadership – one premised on rigidity, control and operating within a predictable status quo – has become obsolete. Today's business leaders must navigate ambiguity from all fronts, quickly calibrating and adapting strategies to new realities with agility. More crucially, they must inspire their teams to wholeheartedly embrace an organizational mindset of continuous learning, growth and reinvention.

The challenges and complexities facing leaders will only intensify as the rapacious pace of disruptive change accelerates in

lockstep with our progressively globalized and interconnected world. Novel disruptors will continue emerging from unlikely corners, instantaneously reshaping industries with their revolutionary technologies, business models or radical innovations - just as once-niche startups like Facebook, Amazon and Google grew to redefine their sectors.

To not just survive but thrive amidst this perpetual chaos, today's leaders must cultivate a versatile, multidimensional skillset that far transcends mere technical prowess or subject mastery. They must be emotionally intelligent, with the soft skills to inspire, motivate and maximize human potential. They must be data-driven and quantitatively astute to interrogate information and root decisions in evidence rather than intuition. An ethical decision-making framework and cultural agility are paramount to navigating the farreaching moral and social implications of their choices. Most importantly, they must lead with a clearly defined purpose and vision to foster collaboration in driving transformative change.

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 19

“By cultivating a flexible mindset, emotional intelligence, data-driven decision-making skills and a commitment to continuous growth, today's leaders can effectively navigate ambiguity and change.”

As Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, eloquently stated when addressing students at EU Business School: "Transformative leadership is about making a positive difference in the lives of the people and the communities you serve. Being a change agent requires having a vision for a better future and inspiring others to commit themselves to that vision."

How do you become an adaptive and transformative leader equipped with the skills to lead successfully, now and in the future?

Embrace Constant Evolution

In an era of disruption, an adaptive mindset is paramount for leaders. They must be open to continuously re-evaluating their assumptions, strategies and approaches as circumstances shift. Rigid adherence to predetermined plans or a fear of change can spell disaster when market conditions, consumer preferences or technological advancements render those plans obsolete.

Developing adaptability starts with cultivating intellectual curiosity and a growth mindset. Leaders must remain humble students of their industry, voraciously consuming insights and best practices that could inform their decision-making. They should foster a culture of experimentation, where potential innovations can be assessed through low-risk pilot programs or rapid prototyping cycles.

Furthermore, leaders must become adept at systems thinking – analyzing how various internal and external factors correlate to shape their organization's ecosystem. This expansive perspective enables them to anticipate the potential ripple effects of their choices and proactively implement coursecorrecting strategies as needed.

Crucially, adaptive leaders must develop a high tolerance for ambiguity. In a volatile business environment, periods of uncertainty are inevitable. Leaders who can remain calm amidst chaos, embrace ambiguity as an opportunity for growth and inspire conviction in their team's ability to navigate unpredictable waters will be better positioned to thrive.

Connect with People

Technical prowess and industry knowledge are vital assets for leaders, but it is emotional intelligence (EQ) that often determines their ability to galvanize teams and bring out their full potential. Leaders with high EQ can empathize with their colleagues, build trust and create an environment that fosters collaboration, creativity and a shared sense of purpose.

At its core, emotional intelligence encompasses self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Selfaware leaders understand their emotions, strengths and weaknesses – a critical first step in developing other EQ competencies. Those with strong self-regulation can maintain composure under pressure and thoughtfully consider the impacts of their words and actions.

Empathy – the ability to sense others' emotions and viewpoints – enables leaders to build deeper connections and tailor their communication approach based on individual needs. This facilitative leadership style, informed by emotional attunement, cultivates psychological safety where team members feel comfortable voicing ideas, taking calculated risks and learning from setbacks.

Leaders adept at motivation can align individual and organizational goals, cultivating a sense of shared purpose that

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inspires teams to go the extra mile. Finally, polished social skills ease interpersonal challenges, allowing leaders to deftly navigate office politics, manage conflicts constructively and forge productive collaborations across diverse personalities and cultures.

When combined, these emotional intelligence competencies manifest as transformative leadership – a collaborative approach that brings out the best in people and teams, enabling organizations to unlock their fullest potential.

Harness the Power of Analytics

Organizations are inundated with unprecedented volumes of data offering insights into consumer behaviors, market trends, operational inefficiencies and more. For leaders, these data streams represent both a challenge and an immense opportunity. Those who can effectively harness the power of analytics to drive decision-making processes will enjoy a significant competitive advantage.

Becoming a data-driven leader begins with developing quantitative and technological literacy. Leaders must understand how to derive meaning from key metrics and performance indicators, distilling complex data visualizations into strategic insights. Just as importantly, they need a grasp of data hygiene principles – recognizing biases, accounting for external variables and upholding ethical standards around privacy and transparency.

Armed with hard data, leaders can shift their organizations from over-relying on intuitions and anecdotes toward an evidencebased model of decision-making. This analytical rigor fosters objectivity, quickly validating or invalidating assumptions to allow for efficient strategy optimization. Leaders can substantiate their plans, gain stakeholder buy-in and proactively identify emerging opportunities or potential pitfalls before they fully materialize.

Perhaps most powerfully, data enables leaders to foster a culture of continual learning and evolution. By openly sharing dashboards and facilitating collaborative inquiry around findings, teams remain agile, pivoting intelligently as new insights emerge. This scientific management approach empowers leaders to treat their organizations as perpetual works in progress – always refining, enhancing and reinventing to maintain a competitive edge.

Keep Learning and Invest in Your Development

Continuous learning is key to managerial success, whether it be through mentorship

programs, reading up on the latest trends or furthering your education to hone your leadership skills. EU Business School recognizes the importance of cultivating adaptive leaders and strongly emphasizes a pragmatic approach to learning. Through mentorship, case studies, company visits and other immersive real-world business experiences, students gain invaluable insights from industry experts and leaders of established international organizations.

"At EU Business School, we believe that leadership is a continuous journey of growth and adaptation," says Carl Craen, Managing Director of EU Business School. "Our programs are designed to equip students with the mindsets, skills and experiences necessary to navigate the complexities of modern leadership and drive organizational success in an ever-changing business landscape."

To this end, EU Business School’s flagship guest speaker series, “Learning From Leaders,” gives students the opportunity to engage with and learn from some of the most influential visionaries shaping business, politics and society today. These have included global company leaders like Paul Bulcke of Nestlé and Jim Hagemann Snabe of Siemens, as well as industry disruptors like Zev Siegel, co-founder of Starbucks, and change-makers like Steve Davis of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As the business landscape changes, adaptive leadership has become imperative for driving organizational success. By cultivating a flexible mindset, emotional intelligence, data-driven decision-making skills and a commitment to continuous growth, today's leaders can effectively navigate ambiguity and change.

Moreover, the ability to cohesively blend these attributes – radiating authenticity, humility and vision – empowers leaders to inspire their teams and pave the way for the next generation of trailblazers. Aspiring leaders who internalize these principles will be positioned to drive innovation, champion productive collaborations and steer their organizations toward sustainable impact.

EU Business School is at the forefront of developing well-rounded, adaptable leaders. A pragmatic approach, featuring learning from industry veterans, immersive case studies and insights from high-impact conferences, provides students with transformative experiences that solidify conceptual learning. With this invaluable preparation, these emerging leaders can confidently take the reins and deftly navigate an increasingly volatile world.

“Leaders adept at motivation can align individual and organizational goals, cultivating a sense of shared purpose that inspires teams to go the extra mile.”


EU Business School (EU) has been educating future entrepreneurs and business leaders since 1973. We offer innovative foundation, bachelor’s, master’s and MBA programmes on our campuses in Barcelona, Geneva and Munich, as well as on our Digital Campus. We believe in hands-on, pragmatic learning that will give you the real-world skills to excel in the workplace of the future.

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Regardless of how you feel about yourself, the moment you gain the title 'manager', 'executive' or 'boss', everything changes. Even with a direct report of just one, you gain the power to answer questions such as, 'Can I take a day off? Can I take my lunch hour early? What should I work on next? Can I move my desk? Can I have a tattoo? Is this good work? Can I have a pay rise? Can I go for a promotion?' There is often a perception that leaders are a superhuman breed and that those in leadership have superpowers. They don't feel as we mere mortals do. They think strategically, have high levels of emotional intelligence, stay calm in a crisis and have unparalleled levels of resilience. Yet, in reality, any leader or manager is as human as you and I. They struggle with prioritisation, dread difficult conversations, work long hours, battle with exhaustion, have challenges at home and often wonder whether they are on the right path. I say this to encourage you. Disruptive leaders are not superheroes; what they are is united in their drive to make a difference. This, aligned with a set of lived values, is what will make your fire succeed where others will fail.

The confidence to disrupt

Many leaders struggle with low levels of confidence. There's even a name for it: imposter syndrome. 'How did I get here?' these leaders ask themselves. 'When will I be found out?'

"Many strong and highly successful leaders have scored very low on confidence assessments, but their courage drives their outstanding results."
"If you know your purpose and are inspired by difference, act now. As a leader, you are in a position to change things."
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Mark Bateman, CEO of WeQual, is a visionary disruptor, corporate adviser and executive coach with a keen focus on leadership development. He partners with global leaders to spark impactful, enduring change and offers unique, realworld insights and actionable strategies to foster authentic, influential leadership. He has decades of business experience, first making his mark as a successful entrepreneur. Now, he is committed to the development of leaders worldwide and has amassed over 3,000 hours of executive coaching experience. By boldly questioning the status quo, he helps leaders shape purposeful legacies and drive positive transformations within their organisations.

It's more common than you might think. I've lost count of the times leaders have confided that they live with a permanent sense of dread that they are about to be 'found out'. They feel like imposters, their blood full of adrenaline, constantly trying to prove themselves. It is often comforting to realise you are not alone in feeling like this. In fact, well over half of those we coach struggle with confidence. In these cases, I often remind leaders that courage matters more than confidence. After all, confidence is not a predictor of success.

Many strong and highly successful leaders have scored very low on confidence assessments, but their courage drives their outstanding results. They are doing the right thing despite their fear and uncertainty. What can be surprising to these leaders is how others perceive them. In fact, they often describe their peers (other leaders) in glowing and inspirational terms – when I know those same leaders sometimes feel crippled by imposter syndrome. Aside from demonstrating that often, our perception of ourselves is off (and this is where feedback and coaching really help), it also highlights that we are unaware of our impact on others. By the time we find ourselves in a senior position, we set the tone for everyone, regardless of our confidence. A leader defines the who, what, where, how, and why. And not just on the big things. If you would like a document to be presented in a certain way, woe betide anyone who doesn't comply. If you want certain words to be used, they must be. If you dress smartly, there will be an expectation that your team will dress smartly, too. If you do or don't swear, your team will follow your lead. If you get in early, answer emails over the weekend, and check Slack at midnight, there will be pressure to do the same. Get the idea? Followers follow. Why? Because leaders have power. If you understand your purpose and how your organisation needs to change in order to fulfil that purpose, you ensure that those who follow you and those you influence are caught up in something meaningful, regardless of personal levels of confidence.


Answer the following questions:

● Despite how you might feel about your own strengths and weaknesses, what level of power and influence do you have over those you lead?

● How can you increase your influence to drive the change you seek?

If you have answered that your power and influence are small, start where you are. Take

time out to redefine why you are in the role you are.

The bigger the difference you feel, the more energy you have and the more heat you generate. Doesn't it make sense that the person leading the change and culture of your organisation is the person looking at you in the mirror? There is no time for half-heartedness. Heat is uncompromising. The higher the heat, the higher the chance of disruption. Only high heat sets fire to things to achieve disruption.

Heat manifests itself in every action you take. It's in the language you use: urgent, now, tomorrow. It's in the way you make decisions: quickly, decisively. It's in the things you won't tolerate: endless meetings and slipping deadlines. It's in the diversity and strength of the team you build around you. If passivity rules and you are going with the flow, that is low energy. You need to refocus on your difference. Go back to your purpose. Is what currently fills your calendar helping you achieve it? If not, something needs to change. Disruptors don't wait. They act. Because the difference demands it. If you know your purpose and are inspired by difference, act now. As a leader, you are in a position to change things. Start applying that heat today.


Your ability to disrupt

What is it you want to disrupt? What is the difference you want to see?

Answer the following questions and rate yourself on a scale of 0 to 100 (0 is low, 100 is high):

● I feel uniquely gifted to bring about this change.

● How disruptive is the change?

● Who or what stands in your way? How strong is the resistance?

● How much energy is needed to overcome the resistance?

● How strongly do you feel about the difference you want to make?

● How energised do you feel about the desired change?

If you scored yourself lower than you'd like on the uniquely gifted question – welcome to the club. Feel and channel the difference strongly enough, and no one will be able to stand in your way.

If you scored lower on the energy and feeling scales – don't worry; you're not alone. You are an amazing human being who is either in the wrong place or just exhausted. This is an adapted extract from Mark's new book, Disruptive Leadership. An essential read for any leader wishing to cement their legacy, challenge the status quo and become the driver of purposeful change.

24 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 / Spring 2024 25 The University of Maine is an EEO/AA employer and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5754, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System). Learn more at At Maine’s premier business school, our graduate programs include unique courses and in-demand concentrations to prepare you for whatever comes next in your career. &



As modern professionals seek further education opportunities that suit their evolving needs, there has been a significant shift towards online MBAs. This movement extends beyond growing digitalisation; it's a response to an increased demand for flexibility, accessibility and career-oriented curriculums. According to Forbes, 2022 marked the first year that students in online MBA programmes outnumbered their in-person peers. While many traditional institutions are struggling to keep pace, one stands out for its forwardthinking approach to online course delivery. The Australian Insititute of Business (AIB) offers an online MBA where accessibility, interactivity, practicality and support redefine the educational journey.

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Online Delivery

Traditional Online MBAs

Online education offers a unique opportunity to reimagine how content is delivered, making it more interactive, engaging and adaptable to individual learner needs. Despite the widespread adoption of online education in recent years, many institutions have not fully embraced its potential. Failing to understand the key differences between online and in-person classrooms limits both the effectiveness of their programmes and the impact on their students' learning experiences.

AIB’s Online MBA

At the core of AIB's online MBA programmes is their industryleading Student Learning Portal. The platform features a range of multimedia materials, including articles, videos, podcasts, webinars and forums for engaging with classmates and Online Learning Facilitators. It also gives students access to key study tools such as LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Office 365, as well as a diverse range of academic and wellbeing support.

The portal prioritises accessibility and inclusivity, with AIB dedicated to providing equal access to learning resources through audio, video and visual accessibility initiatives. These measures address the needs of students with disabilities and accommodate diverse learning styles, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to engage with the material in a way that best suits them.

In addition to the portal, the myAIB app enables learners to study anytime, from anywhere. There are many ways that learning can easily be integrated into a daily routine, such as listening to lectures on daily commutes, studying during work lunch breaks or listening to audio versions of course material while working out.

I travel very extensively for work, and from one month to the next, I just don't know where I'm going to be in the world. By studying online, I was able to travel and keep up with study in different places and time zones. It was a challenge to get it done, but I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it without that flexibility. I also found AIB to be very helpful in giving structured suggestions on how to make sure that I kept enough time for family and friends.” - Andrew Collins, AIB Graduate


Traditional Online MBAs

Traditionally, MBA programmes have relied heavily on lectures as the primary means of instruction. While this onedirectional flow of information is effective in giving students a solid theoretical understanding, it does not provide them with opportunities to critically engage with the material or relate it to their own experiences. This means they often find it challenging to translate this knowledge into actionable skills in real-world business settings.

AIB’s Online MBA

In contrast, AIB has reimagined the online MBA learning experience by replacing traditional lectures with interactive conversations. Instead of passively receiving information, students are active participants in their learning process. They engage in collaborative discussions, case studies and problem-solving activities that encourage the application of theoretical concepts to real-life business challenges. This method enhances content comprehension and fosters soft skills such as communication, strategic thinking and decision-making.

Each class has a limited number of students to facilitate high levels of interaction, relationship building and learning from peers with different perspectives. In addition to learning from academics, AIB students have the exclusive opportunity to learn from industry guest speakers and highly influential business experts from leading companies. These speakers offer a unique perspective on practically applying MBA theories with firsthand insights into their challenges and successes.

I have attended lectures in person and online at other institutions. One significant difference I noticed between the webinar experience at AIB and other lectures is the level of interaction and engagement. At AIB, there was a greater encouragement of dialogue and participation among attendees. I felt like this interactive approach allowed for meaningful discussions, which enhanced my comprehension and retention of the material. One particularly enriching aspect of the discussion was the diversity of perspectives. Engaging in discussions with peers from different industries and locations was invaluable for expanding my perspective and approach to specific topics or tasks.” - Thomas

“Unlike traditional institutions, AIB proudly removes barriers to allow more people to pursue education without the limitations of the past.”
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Traditional Online MBAs

In traditional academic settings, exams are the primary form of assessment. This approach encourages students to focus on passing a timed test, potentially at the expense of long-term retention and comprehension of the content. Modern professionals are required not only to have a deep theoretical understanding of their field but also to possess a wide array of soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, adaptability and effective communication. An education model centred around exams may not equip students with these skills and fails to prepare students for the complexities and challenges of today's workplaces.

Support Assessment Methods

AIB’s Online MBA

AIB adopts an innovative educational philosophy focused on practical application that is aligned with current industry demands. They have found that better learning outcomes are achieved when theory is applied to real-world situations, so exams are no longer part of their grading methods. Instead, all of their assessments are work-based to ensure that students can immediately apply what they have learned to their workplace or business. AIB's authentic assessment methods include written assignments, recorded oral presentations, evaluated forum participation and quizzes. This approach not only develops a deeper understanding of the subject matter but nurtures essential soft skills. With strict subject improvement processes and consultation with esteemed alumni and industry leaders, AIB continuously refines its curriculum to ensure its graduates are not just exam-ready or job-ready but are well-equipped to be leaders and innovators in their fields.

I really liked the practical aspect of the MBA. One of the reasons I decided to choose AIB is because it wasn't exambased; it was very practical being able to use case studies and apply them back to your work every single day. We're implementing some of the recommendations from my final project report, and I think that's pretty amazing.”- Denise Edwards, AIB Graduate

Traditional Online MBAs

Some institutions struggle to offer adequate support to their online students because their support systems were originally designed with only on-campus students in mind. Often, this results in basic assistance, which falls short of addressing students' immediate or complex needs. Additionally, some universities limit their support services after students complete the initial subjects, leaving them to navigate most of their educational journey with minimal guidance. A lack of opportunities for real-time collaboration with peers or academics can further isolate students and negatively impact their educational experience.

AIB’s Online MBA

AIB takes a proactive approach to reduce the isolation often associated with online studies, ensuring its students feel supported and connected from application to graduation. In the most recent Australian Government-endorsed Student Experience Survey (SES) for 2022, 91% of AIB students rated student support highly compared to the total higher education institution average of 80%^.

Each class has a dedicated Online Learning Facilitator (OLF) available to provide one-on-one support over Zoom. This is complemented by the Academic Skills Advisors, who are available to assist students in refining their academic skills, including referencing, research and writing, and the library team, who can guide students through the extensive range of academic sources and industry data. Beyond academic support, AIB's student support teams help students navigate through the logistics of their programmes, including course selection, managing study schedules, and understanding academic policies. Recognising the importance of wellbeing while studying, AIB also offers their students an EAP service providing free, confidential counselling for a broad range of work and life issues.

I found it easy to study with AIB. I actually started with another institution and transferred because I liked the AIB model and found that I had a lot of support. I'd like to thank the staff at AIB because every single time I rang up with a query, I found that the staff were always helpful, and the academics were always available. I wouldn't have made it through if I didn't have that support.” - Lauren Zaja, AIB Graduate


class has a limited number of students to facilitate high levels of interaction, relationship building and learning from peers with different perspectives.”

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Traditional Online MBAs

The standard pathway to a postgraduate degree typically follows an undergraduate degree. This route is reinforced by traditional universities, which require specific academic credentials or standardised testing scores for admission, such as the GMAT. While these entry criteria are intended to measure a candidate's readiness for postgraduate education, they can also act as barriers to those who may have faced personal challenges, financial hurdles or were simply uncertain about their future early in life. As a result, individuals who defer their studies often encounter significant challenges if they later contemplate returning to school to advance their career opportunities.

AIB’s Online MBA

AIB's accessible entry criteria are driven by an understanding of the diverse needs of the modern professional. Unlike traditional institutions, AIB proudly removes barriers to allow more people to pursue education without the limitations of the past. They recognise that formal education is just one way of gaining knowledge; the resilience, wisdom and hands-on skills acquired from real-world experience are equally valuable.

AIB offers several entry pathways into its MBA programme:

● Relevant managerial or technical work experience

● An advanced diploma or associate degree plus relevant work experience

● A bachelor's degree plus relevant work experience

● A GMAT score plus relevant work experience

This progressive and inclusive approach empowers people who've previously felt stuck in their careers to explore further opportunities for growth. In fact, 52% of AIB alumni did not have a prior degree when starting their MBAs*.

Most of the universities I know of here in Canada require the GMAT to do an MBA. I have had to overcome a lot of barriers to get where I am and have dedicated myself to getting there – the GMAT would have been another barrier, but AIB removed that. AIB took into consideration my professional experience and my life experience and took it at face value.”-

Kenneth Letander, AIB Graduate


AIB is Australia's largest online MBA provider, with almost 40 years of history and a global network of over 20,000 students, alumni, academics and industry experts from 95 countries. AIB's online MBA is designed to support working professionals achieve career outcomes faster and has most recently been awarded Tier One Global status, ranking 5th in Australia and 25th globally by CEO Magazine 2024.

^Source: ComparEd Graduate Outcomes Survey Aggregated Data 2021-2022.

*The insights were garnered from AIB's 2021 Alumni Insights Report sent out to 6,853 of AIB's global MBA Alumni who graduated between 2010 and 2021.

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According to a recent report from the European Federation of Management Development, in conjunction with the Executive DBA Council, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree is on an upward trajectory. Executive leadership is seeking a competitive edge through the practical application of research and the reputational benefits attached to a doctoral program.

While the 'big picture' view of business and management has often proven attractive to employers, there is a growing appreciation for the specialized knowledge that Executive DBA graduates bring to the workplace. Their ability to analyze data and generate unique, actionable insights that lead to better business decisions and outcomes is becoming invaluable.

Embodying this shift toward specialized expertise, Drexel University's LeBow College of Business was one of the first to offer an Executive DBA program that empowers senior executives with the evidence-based learning and practical application needed to thrive in today’s dynamic business landscape. As an industry-driven, R1 research university, Drexel LeBow's DBA courses

feature research-active faculty across multiple disciplines, including Organizational Behavior, Strategy, Management Information Systems, Economics, Finance, and Marketing, and consist of three integrated streams:

● Seminar courses, which cover foundational theories and encompass new and emerging topics across disciplines.

● Methodology courses, which span scientific analyses through to research design and teach students how to collect and analyze data.

● Dissertation courses in which students are encouraged to study their passion and address burning industry questions.

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The training students receive at LeBow through quantitative and qualitative research methods and current business theories are essential building blocks in any DBA program. The cornerstone of Drexel LeBow's DBA program is the dissertation which represents the culmination of the student's learning journey. It provides a unique opportunity for students to showcase their academic excellence in applying the science of business and data analysis rigor to an applied business problem.

Crucially, while students may enter the DBA program with research ideas in mind, exposure to new material and guidance from faculty can often mean their dissertation topic changes in the second year of the program (the dissertation phase), which is both accommodated and welcomed.

While the dissertation process is naturally rigorous, Drexel LeBow’s DBA students are assigned and supported by a faculty chair/ advisor with whom they will work to develop their dissertation research. As recent graduate Danesha Chisholm notes: “The difference between Drexel and other programs is that you are going to have someone to help guide you through the process." Following the formal presentation of their dissertation research and defense of their proposals, which also serve as a candidacy exam approximately 16 months into the program, students work

largely off-campus to execute their research through reading, writing, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting on their results. Approximately halfway through the dissertation process, students return to campus to check in and take a refresher course on data analysis before defending their dissertation approximately two-and-a-half years into the program.

Although a significant undertaking, another of Drexel LeBow’s recent graduates, Will Ramey, believes students are well prepared: "Faculty pushed me to explore, learn more, come up with solutions, and talk them through, and that gave me the competency and confidence to execute research to understand what I was doing."

In addition to cultivating robust research capabilities, DBA students can also expect extensive cross-networking opportunities. For Drexel LeBow’s DBA students, this means becoming part of the school’s Executive Network an active collection of tens of thousands of Drexel and executive alumni worldwide. Through connections with peers from their cohort and esteemed professors, students can access unrivaled support, open doors to new opportunities, and garner diverse perspectives, which, as Will Ramey underlines, is of significant value: "The cohort really opened me up to the power of relationships and the support of people. Because of the diversity in my cohort and working groups, I gained a different perspective that I did not have. It really helped broaden my view of the world, and the relationships I built with my cohort, which I still have today, have gone strong for two years after graduation." Additional networking opportunities exist annually via Drexel's Executive Summit, summer and autumn social, holiday parties, and nights out at sporting events in Philadelphia.

“Students can expect to position themselves, post DBA, as change agents, bridging the gap between industry practice and academic research.”
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is a growing appreciation for the specialized knowledge that DBA graduates bring to the workplace. Their ability to analyze data and generate unique, actionable insights that lead to better business decisions and outcomes is becoming invaluable.”

"Being part of the DBA program helped me launch my company. The entrepreneurial nature here at Drexel combined with the faculty support and the eye-opening understanding of the world around you — specifically for me, leadership and team dynamics — has paid dividends."

However, exposure to new perspectives and connections goes beyond the Executive Network. As part of Drexel LeBow's program offering, DBA and Executive MBA students have the opportunity to take part in an optional global immersion residency: a curated experience where students are immersed in real-world situations that challenge their ability to navigate a foreign business environment, become immersed in the local culture, and integrate learnings into practice.

While the benefits of the DBA are clear, taking on a doctorate program is a time-intensive challenge, especially for high-performing executives and senior leaders. In recognition, Drexel LeBow's curriculum leverages a hybrid structure and incorporates both on-campus and remote studies. End-of-week residencies, which take place approximately every six weeks, are designed to minimize time away from work and are based on a predictable schedule, supported by asynchronous learning in smaller teams between residencies in each of the first six quarters of the program before the dissertation data collection phase. As a quarter-based rather than semesterbased school, the program is designed to be completed in as little as two-and-a-half years, compared to the typical six-semester program, which takes three full years. It is also worth noting that dissertation research is carried out largely off-campus once students have defended their research proposal.

While students can expect to position themselves, post DBA, as change agents, bridging the gap between industry practice and academic research, it is useful to understand what this looks like in concrete terms. Speaking to the transformative power of Drexel LeBow's DBA program, several graduates share their experiences:

"I know that with my research, I can make an impact in the Diversity, Equity, and inclusion (DEI) space and industry. Not just because of my dissertation but also because of the Drexel network, camaraderie, and confidence I gained, I now feel empowered and fearless to tackle complex challenges."


"The completed dissertation and DBA degree from Drexel University helped me level-up to a position where we can work on a national and international level to have a bigger impact than I otherwise would have been able to."


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Like a Diamond, an MBA is Forever

Ensure it’s AMBA-accredited.

Be in brilliant company

MBA students on AMBA-accredited programmes are required to have at least 3 years prior management experience, making for quality networks and applied learning.

Crafted with

world-class expertise

The high standard of AMBA-accredited MBAs is certified by highly experienced Business School Deans and Directors - Experts assessing Experts.

Invest in education that stands the test of time

AMBA-accredited schools have educated MBAs to AMBA standards for a minimum of 3 years and usually over 10 years.

Be part of a priceless network

AMBA-accredited MBA programmes require a minimum of 500 ‘contact’ hours, ensuring face-to-face learning and strong relationship-building.

Access the highest quality experts in academia and industry. Faculty at AMBA-accredited programmes are internationally diverse and at least 75% must have a relevant postgraduate qualification.

AMBA is the world’s only MBA-specific Accreditation Organisation, accrediting just 2% of the world’s Business Schools.

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For executives and aspiring leaders seeking to develop new skills and propel themselves forward, the time-honoured Master of Business Administration (MBA) has long stood out as a beacon of opportunity. However, for many working professionals, the prospect of further education can seem unattainable amidst the demands of an already busy career and personal life.

Enter Torrens University Australia, a trailblazer in the realm of higher education. Since its beginnings in 2014, Torrens University has rapidly grown into one of Australia's premier institutions, now boasting

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a diverse student body representing over 124 nationalities. With campuses across four major Australian cities and a global reach through strategic industry partnerships, Torrens University has established itself as a leader in innovative education, featuring three times in the top 10 "Most Innovative Companies" awards from the Australian Financial Review.

Under the progress-driven leadership of President & Co-CEO Linda Brown, EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2022, Torrens University has consistently championed a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and ethical business. As a Certified B Corporation, the university is also committed to driving positive social impact through education, empowering individuals from all walks of life to pursue success on their own terms.

"The blend of academic rigour and lived, practical experience ensures that students graduate not only with a globally recognised qualification but also with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's incredibly fast-moving, digitally focused and highly global business landscape."

It's no surprise, then, that this cutting-edge Australian university is among the world's first to launch a new model of MBA course delivery online. The MBA (On Demand) launched just last year now makes it even easier for anyone, anywhere, to access business education no matter their schedule. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and a forward-thinking curriculum, Torrens University is revolutionising business education online. So, how is it different from the myriad online MBAs out there?

The simple answer is that it's not just a typical MBA moved to an online space; it's a fresh, next-level digital, flexible, learnerdriven delivery model.

Firstly, it offers the assessment-aslearning model rather than traditional scaffolded learning. Whether on campus or online, traditional MBA delivery comes in a scaffolded learning format, where a student begins with module one, and when that's completed, they move on to module two. In this model, each piece of knowledge builds on what preceded it. While effective, this learning model is fairly inflexible: a student must follow the established learning schedule regardless of prior knowledge or life's demands.

This model assumes that the educational institution is the student's only source of knowledge and learning. However, in 2024,

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"By placing students at the centre of their education, Torrens University aims to foster a culture and habit of lifelong learning and personal growth."

everyone has knowledge at their fingertips and on their phones, delivered across a range of online media. MBA students, particularly executives, come to their education with existing, diverse knowledge bases and can quickly access new information.

In a world of decentralised knowledge, it makes sense to guide learners in their independent exercise of curiosity.

In contrast, the MBA (On-Demand) 'assessment-as-learning' model utilises a 100% self-directed learning journey to guide students through topics according to their existing knowledge and at their own pace. This model empowers students to take control of their learning journey by allowing them to choose modules under each key topic area required to complete the assessment tasks.

Within this model, all content and learning activities are designed with the goal of helping the learner acquire the knowledge and skills required to complete the assessment successfully. This means that all interactions with the subject material are for the purpose of learning specific skills which fill specific gaps.

There is no wasted time spent on irrelevant group assignments or sitting in compulsory

learners to complete each module at any time of the day, anywhere in the world, without being restricted to any national timezone. While the assessment tasks have set due dates, this flexibility ensures students can balance their studies with other commitments. Through a meta-cognitive approach, learners monitor their own progress, identify areas for improvement, and adapt their strategies accordingly. By placing students at the centre of their education, Torrens University aims to foster a culture and habit of lifelong learning and personal growth.

A second big innovation pioneered within the MBA (On Demand) is the use of unconventional and diverse digital learning materials, including podcasts, screencasts and video content, which, just like Netflix, can be streamed (you guessed it) on-demand. These diverse learning resources are thematically grouped around the specific concepts required to complete each assessment, allowing students to explore topics in depth.

For a busy professional, it's a dream come true; you can watch a short video on the train or listen to a podcast at the gym and complete more traditional readings.

Each resource can be consumed according

resources a learner consumes depends only knowledge of a topic they already possess.

*Systems Thinking - Learning Journey Map

The Learning Journey Map allows students to see which topics they need to cover to complete their assessments.

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Assessment 1 Assessment 2 Assessment 3 Rich Picture, CATWOE and Root Definition Report Systems thinking and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) Introduction to Systems Thinkig SSM Steps 1 to 3 SSM Steps 4 to 7 Case Study Report Systems thinking and Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) Introduction to Systems Thinkig SSM Steps 1 to 3 SSM Steps 4 to 7 Modelling Systems System Dynamics Systems Archetypes [Part A] Systems Archetypes [Part B] Systems Interventions Introduction to Systems Interventions Shallow Leverage Points Deep Leverage Points Operations Managment Presentation Introduction to Operations Management Operations and Operations Management Operations Strategy Product and Process Management Forecasting and Capacity Planning Introduction to Forecasting Methods Quantitative Forecasting Capacity Planning and Management Quality, Materials and Inventory Management Quality Management Materials and Inventory Management

Unlike a traditional model, completing readings on a topic already familiar to the learner is not compulsory. With 68% of MBA students being sponsored by a company, it's a given that students already bring knowledge and experience into their learning.

However, the student experience is guided and curated - learners are not simply cast adrift to figure everything out for themselves.

The digital program of modules and resources includes knowledge check tools so that learners can assess if additional learning is required on a specific topic, video explanations of assessment requirements, and navigation tools that allow learners to control their learning journey*. Teachers, colleagues and a personal Success Coach are all on hand to support the learning process.

The third major innovation of the MBA (On Demand) is the focus on authentic, industryrelevant assessments.

Instead of traditional exams, the program is built around real-world, practical assessments that simulate challenges encountered in actual professional settings.

These tasks include case studies, projects, presentations, and business simulations, allowing students to apply their knowledge and skills in meaningful contexts. Throughout their learning journey, students receive ongoing feedback from instructors, peers, and self-assessment tools. This feedback loop enables students to track their progress, identify areas for growth, and make informed decisions about their learning priorities.

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, it's more important than ever to have the ability to think critically, solve problems creatively, learn continuously from a range of different media, and adapt to new challenges as they arise.

By embracing digital innovation, a new delivery model based on 'assessment-aslearning' and complete flexibility, Torrens University's MBA (On Demand) program is designed to train students with the self-driven mindset needed to thrive in today's business environment. Through personalised learning and self-assessment, students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills essential for success in leadership roles.

The program also offers the opportunity to tailor your MBA experience to your career

interests through a variety of elective choices.

The MBA (On Demand) also boasts a uniquely balanced structure with six core subjects and six electives, empowering students to align their studies with their career interests perfectly. For instance, those with entrepreneurial aspirations can delve into subjects like Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, while individuals passionate about making a sustainable impact can focus on Corporate Sustainability. This design allows students to gain essential knowledge and skills across a range of business areas while also tailoring their education to their specific interests, career goals, and industry demands.

In addition, the program's global network of industry partners, students and alumni offers invaluable networking opportunities, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange across borders even after graduation.

In a way, this innovative online program design coming from course designers at Torrens University makes complete sense. The academic team is comprised of professionals from academia and industry, a boast that not every institution can promise. Because of the diverse professional backgrounds of Torrens University staff, their courses often bridge the gap between theory and practice and provide students with valuable real-world perspectives and education models built for everyday working life. The blend of academic rigour and lived, practical experience ensures that students graduate not only with a globally recognised qualification but also with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's incredibly fast-moving, digitally focused and highly global business landscape.

Torrens University has continually expanded its MBA offerings to meet the diverse needs of its students, helping them better balance professional and personal commitments.

The on-demand format is a new inclusion to Torrens University's award-winning MBA suite. It joins the existing online and oncampus models, all of which include weekly lectures, as well as specialised versions. This breadth of offerings presents students with the choice of learning that best suits their lifestyle and needs, ensuring they can pursue their education without compromising other aspects of their lives.


Torrens University's MBA is designed and delivered by highly experienced academics so that students can strengthen their business acumen and learn to employ dynamic leadership skills.

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We are on the cusp of a revolution as significant as the Industrial Revolution in how we utilise human talent. Two hundred and fifty years ago, machines disrupted ways of life that had been established for hundreds of years, and now they threaten to do the same. Our changing attitudes towards work, changing expectations from businesses of their employees, the long tail economic impact of Covid, a mental health time bomb, difficulties with the supply of goods, cost of living, geo-political unrest, the climate crisis, and the icing on the cake – Generative AI –mean we cannot operate our organisations as we have done for the last two hundred and fifty years.

And yet, with a few tweaks, that's what we try to do. We look for efficiency savings, treat people like cogs in a machine, only value what we can measure, and talk about making it safe to take risks, but what we mean is only take risks that pay off. We talk about psychological safety, inclusion, and bringing your whole self to work, but ultimately, we want people to be predictable and productive and set aside their emotions to make logical, data-driven decisions like machines. We say we trust people but have myriad processes and systems to ensure people operate within tight controls. We say we trust people, but when we can't reach them at 2 p.m. or see their car in the car park, we wonder where they've disappeared.

This is because two Victorian Age beliefs still sit at the heart of business:

1. People are merely second-rate machines.

2. People are trying to get away with something.

In fact, belief one is true – people are second-rate machines. Machines are reliable and predictable. They don't need you to care how they feel. If they break, you fix or replace

them. Today's AI, let alone tomorrow's, can analyse data, carry out research, make recommendations, produce reports, and do repetitive tasks without errors creeping in (and without complaining of boredom) far better than a human.

For activities that benefit from a lack of emotion, a machine is far better.

But humans bring qualities that a machine cannot replicate. We've not even scratched the surface of what humans could do for our organisations if they were liberated from doing what a machine should be doing.

Leveraging emotion in the new world of work

Humans are fundamentally emotional, even if they claim to be logical. They cannot help having feelings. By delegating non-emotional tasks to AI, we could leverage the value of emotion. We could begin to embrace our ability to connect, empathise, build relationships, respond to emotional cues, imagine, debate and wrangle with ethical topics, conflict over matters of principle, bring our lives into our work, and care.

What is currently marginalised to the twoday annual team-building offsite, or Friday afternoons when your company has decreed there will be no meetings and no emails, could become our day job.

So, yes, people are second-rate machines, but they are first-rate humans. What value could they bring to business which has never been possible before?

And what if most people aren't trying to get away with something? What if they are not trying to take your company for a ride? What if they have a higher purpose than their own progression or ego?

We haven't created environments where many people have genuine agency or can find a sense of purpose in their work. Our processes and systems have kept them

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operating like cogs in the machine, only rarely allowed to express their opinions, dissent, or individuality.

We do this because we are worried about the 'bad apples'. What if someone lies repeatedly on their expense claim? What if someone is only interested in their own reputation rather than the good of the business? What if someone is lazy and willing to sacrifice quality for an easy life?

In my 25 years of experience working with business leaders and their teams, I have rarely, if ever, met anyone like this. The vast majority want to do a good job, be well-regarded, and not want to let anyone down. They are trying to do their best every day, up against barriers and challenges that they are attempting to overcome in whatever way they can, in alignment with their values.

But, when people do focus on lowest common denominator stuff – their salary, their bonus, a new job title, petty battles for turf, proximity to power, or any behaviour which appears to be primarily self-serving, what we are seeing is that, in lieu of any other way to express themselves, or a lack of influence over their lives at work or a lack of time to find a deeper sense of meaning, people will focus on hygiene factors to get their basic needs met.

If you don't feel recognised and appreciated for your dedication, taking some pens from the stationary cupboard feels like a small way to get some power back. If you don't feel the system recognises your contribution, focusing on a pay rise might be the only way to get feedback. If work is relentless and unrewarding, of course, you'll take advantage of work-from-home days to do something that isn't as relentless and unrewarding… something that makes you feel like you have a life.

New cultures for a new era

If we want and need people's best, their most enlightened, most engaged, and most complete contribution to our organisations, we must treat them differently.

The new world of work is starting to look very different from the old world of work. The only differentiator between human and non-human (AI) employees will be emotion. Activities which benefit from emotion cannot be delegated to AI.

Therefore, if the emotional intelligence of our people is what we value most about them, we must completely rethink the environments we create for them at work. Rather than treating people like second-rate machines, we must treat them like humanity is their most precious quality.

"We've not even scratched the surface of what humans could do for our organisations if they were liberated from doing what a machine should be doing."
"If the emotional intelligence of our people is what we value most about them, we must completely rethink the environments we create for them at work."
CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 39


Blaire Palmer is a former BBC journalist turned organisational culture and leadership specialist and keynote speaker who has worked on flagship Radio 4 programmes like Today and Woman's Hour. For the past 24 years, Blaire has worked with organisations helping to drive real change in their businesses and create places where people can come and do their best work. Currently, Blaire speaks internationally at conferences and events, calling on audiences of senior leaders to rethink what leadership means in the modern era.

Her new book Punks in Suits is a call to arms for leaders to embrace change and a practical guide offering clarity on the most pertinent workplace challenges of the modern era.

This means rethinking almost everything about the way we work:

● Working hours versus value added

● Measuring how busy or active people are versus the quality of their thinking

● How we hold meetings and how we gather

● Office spaces

● How we supervise and manage people (and whether we need to)

● How we use technology and how people and technology inter-relate

● How we manage change

● Attitudes toward dissent, conflict and risk

● Attitudes towards displays of emotion (including 'difficult' emotions like anger and fear)

● Our obsession with process and predictability

● Reporting lines, decision-making and hierarchy

● How we share information and what information we are willing to share, even with our most junior people

● How we recruit and the qualities we look for in people

● How we delegate, empower and engage with our people

● What people spend most of their day doing versus what they do today

● The role of leaders in the organisation (and who makes a good leader)

A humane working environment is one that doesn't limit the humanity people bring to their work but encourages it in all its messy unpredictability.

Rethinking leadership

Leadership in such an organisation has a very different role. The charismatic leader-follower model has no place in these organisations. We don't want blind followership or compliance. Instead, we need leaders to do three jobs:

1. Keep the destination in mind. What is the purpose of the business? What is the shared work product to which we are all contributing? I picture this as standing on the horizon waving a beacon to remind people, "This is where we are heading". A leader is someone who keeps that destination in mind and helps others do the same. And destinations can change. In an agile business that is responsive to shifting sands, goalposts can move, too. The leader needs to be able to help others work in such a dynamic environment, recalibrating the destination continually.

2. Make space. Leaders need to move obstacles out of the way. They look for tensions in the system and then seek to

address them or empower others to do so. When you change one thing over here, you create another problem over there. Even with great planning, as soon as you embark on the journey, you realise what isn't going to work as you hoped. Leaders don't ignore these tensions or develop workarounds. They go towards tensions as they arise in real-time. Getting obstacles out of the way also means getting themselves out of the way. Someone senior is often the barrier to people doing a great job. Let's end that now.

3. They coach and mentor. In most organisations today, the leader is the ultimate decision-maker. They ask others to fill in the gaps in their knowledge so they can see the full picture, combine that with their years of experience and their superior decisionmaking skill, and then they make a call. In the new organisation, the reverse occurs. The leader distributes their knowledge and expertise to whoever would benefit from it, enhancing their insight and understanding of all the moving parts. They give access to authority, opening doors to those who are hard to reach. And they ask questions – not so that they can gather data with which to make a decision but so they can enhance the other person's quality of thinking. They push the decision down as low as they dare and then a bit lower, ideally to the person who will have to implement it. After all, that's where the information about how it will work on the ground lies.

Leaders like this don't need their egos to be stroked. There's not much room for ego in this kind of leadership. Instead, they are people who believe in the untapped potential of human beings and who believe that if we can liberate that potential, we can make work more meaningful, we can make a far more positive impact on the customer, we can really innovate, and we can even turn business into a force for good in the world.


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As the business community calls for more leaders with specialized skillsets, Kennesaw State University has responded by revolutionizing its MBA program and replacing a general business curriculum with seven highly focused concentrations.

Traditionally, the value of an MBA degree was in the wide range of business skills students learn that are applicable across industries and roles. MBA programs often involve broad training in concepts like project management, leadership, finance, data analysis, and more, which makes graduates attractive as potential hires.

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While all this is still true, working professionals are discovering that being a generalist may only get them so far. Instead, developing specialized skillsets in critical business areas allows them to increase their marketability and enhance their long-term career prospects.

Why Specialization Matters

Employers continue to value the skills that MBA graduates bring to their organizations. According to 2023 survey results published by the Graduate Management Admission Council, 91 percent of organizations around the world hired MBA graduates in 2022, making MBA graduates the most in-demand candidates among employers compared to candidates holding other business master’s and bachelor’s degrees.

While MBA graduates are widely distributed across their organizations, they are most likely to work in a few key functional areas, with the most common being strategy/innovation (at 47 percent of employers), consulting (45 percent), marketing (44 percent), and general management (42 percent).

“Working professionals are discovering that being a generalist may only get them so far. Instead, developing specialized skillsets in critical business areas allows them to increase their marketabilityand enhance their long-term career prospects.”

By rethinking MBA programs away from the general and towards the specialized, Kennesaw State and others are helping students hone their skills in key areas like innovation and marketing, which makes students better able to meet their future – or current – organization’s unique needs.

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“Specialization is an important vehicle for meeting industry demands because it enables our MBAs to develop expertise and a depth of knowledge that leads to greater innovation, problem-solving and increased efficiency for employers.”

How Kennesaw State is Responding Business schools like Kennesaw State University’s Michael J. Coles College of Business recognize that specialization will only become more important as professionals look to differentiate themselves in a competitive job market. In Fall 2023, the Coles College redesigned its part-time Evening MBA program to allow students to declare a concentration when they begin the program.

Launching with concentrations in accounting, finance, general management, and fintech, the program will offer three additional concentrations – digital marketing, organizational entrepreneurship and innovation, and information security and assurance – in Fall 2024.

Renee Bourbeau, Kennesaw State’s executive director of MBA programs, says that the time is right to offer students more flexibility to customize their degree to meet their specific career goals.

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“Concentrations and specialized master’s programs have gained popularity among many business schools nationwide over the past five years,” Bourbeau said. “Specialization is an important vehicle for meeting industry demands because it enables our MBAs to develop expertise and a depth of knowledge that leads to greater innovation, problem-solving and increased efficiency for employers.”

Designed with Technology in Mind

Each of Kennesaw State’s new concentrations is designed around developing skills to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven marketplace. The digital marketing concentration, for instance, offers courses on leveraging social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics to enhance brand visibility, customer acquisition, and customer retention.

Meanwhile, the information security and assurance concentration addresses organizations’ need to protect their data with courses on information security technology, governance and risk management, disaster recovery planning, and legal/ethical issues.

An Emphasis on Innovation

With innovation/strategy among the most common job functions for MBA grads, Kennesaw State’s organizational entrepreneurship and innovation concentration is uniquely valuable. Students learn to apply the principles of entrepreneurship across their organization, which are applicable whether they are launching new ventures and products, creating new markets, or managing company strategy.

“Every organization wants to be a disruptor, but no organization wants to be disrupted,” said Birton Cowden, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and the Academic Director of Kennesaw State’s Robin and Doug Shore Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. “Changes to the economy leave everyone vulnerable. Every organization needs more creative, entrepreneurial, and innovative employees.”

Cowden, who teaches in the MBA program and co-designed the innovation/ entrepreneurship curriculum, said the concentration is a response to the incredible

pace of change the business world has seen in the last five years. The sudden rise of artificial intelligence, the continuing evolution of blockchain technology, and global shocks like the pandemic have revealed the importance of being able to respond quickly to changes in the economy.

MBA students who concentrate on Entrepreneurship and Organizational Innovation learn to identify new revenue streams, create and launch new products, and encourage others in their organizations to be more innovative and entrepreneurial.

“These skills are hard to replace, hard to have AI do for you, and are highly transferable when you decide to change organizations or to create your own business,” Cowden said. “On a more advanced level, we’re seeing evidence that large Atlanta-based companies like Delta Airlines and Chik-fil-a are creating dedicated departments for new entrepreneurial endeavors for their brands. We hope to be one of the first programs to prepare the workforce to fill those roles.”

The new concentration achieves this by keeping the MBA program’s existing core business courses and adding classes on entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity; organizational entrepreneurship; new venture creation and growth; and launching new ventures.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are the true drivers of our economy,” Cowden said.

The Career Value of Specialization

For working professionals, gaining specialized skills is important not only because of what those skills can bring to their organizations, but for what they can bring to their own careers. In a feature published by Forbes, Eric George, founder and CEO of ERG Enterprises, wrote that specialization allows a professional to establish their reputation as an expert, enhance their job security and earnings potential, and establish important business connections.

As businesses look for leaders who possess specialized skillsets, Kennesaw State University's redesigned Evening MBA Program allows students to pursue one of seven concentrations – accounting, finance, general management, fintech, digital marketing, organizational entrepreneurship and innovation, and information security and assurance – allowing students to tailor their degree to their professional goals.


The Michael J. Coles College of Business is the secondlargest university business school in Georgia, offering 10 undergraduate degree programs and seven graduate programs to its more than 8,000 students. Coles College is among the top 2 percent of business schools to earn accreditation in both business and accounting by AACSB International, the world’s most prestigious accrediting body for business schools.

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 45


Over the last few years, the business landscape and the global workforce have undergone a seismic shift, accelerated by unprecedented events like the Covid-19 pandemic. CEOs were navigating uncharted waters, where traditional business models were upended, and agility became paramount. Now, as we settle into 2024, the ability of CEOs to thrive, and not just survive, hinges on a diverse and expanded skillset. The traditional criteria for hiring CEOs and top executives,

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"At the core of effective leadership, a growth mindset entails a steadfast belief in the capacity for learning, improvement, and innovation."

e.g., strong technical knowledge, excellent organizational abilities, and a proven history of handling money well, are no longer sufficient. They are still important, but companies now additionally seek leaders who can motivate diverse workforces, navigate global complexities, and rapidly adapt to new environments. In 2024, CEOs are not just leaders but visionaries, strategists, and catalysts for change, demanding a diverse and dynamic skill set. Research indicates a significant shift towards valuing softer skills, especially in large, complex organizations. Understanding the

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 47

"CEOs who can articulate a compelling vision, inspire enthusiasm, and mobilize collective action unlock the full potential of their organizations."

evolving skillset necessary for executive success is crucial for organizations, aspiring executives, and CEOs.

Here are the eight essential skills CEOs must embrace in this modern era:

Building Trust

CEOs must recognize the necessity to move away from traditional command-andcontrol approaches and towards approaches that foster trust as a foundational element of effective leadership. Command-andcontrol models are ineffective in today's dynamic environment, where agility, collaboration, decentralized decisionmaking, and innovation are paramount. This shift towards trust-based leadership shapes organizational culture and positions CEOs

as catalysts for growth, driving sustainable success in an increasingly interconnected world. Moreover, in fostering trust, CEOs enable psychological safety, creating environments where employees feel safe to take risks, express their opinions, and innovate freely, ultimately propelling organizational excellence in uncertainty.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a cornerstone of effective leadership in an era of diversity, inclusion, and remote work. CEOs with

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high emotional intelligence can understand and manage their own emotions while empathizing with the feelings and perspectives of others. This skill is invaluable for fostering inclusive cultures, building strong relationships with stakeholders, and navigating complex interpersonal dynamics within the organization.

Embracing a Growth Mindset

In the new business and work landscape, embracing a growth mindset is indispensable for CEOs. At the core of effective leadership, a growth mindset entails a steadfast belief in the capacity for learning, improvement, and innovation. CEOs who embody this mindset perceive challenges as avenues for growth rather than insurmountable hurdles. They actively encourage experimentation, embrace feedback, and interpret setbacks as valuable learning experiences rather than defeats. By cultivating a continuous learning and development culture within their organizations, they empower their teams to unlock their full potential and spearhead innovation.

Effective Communication

"By championing innovation, CEOs can unlock new sources of value, drive sustainable growth, and maintain a competitive edge in an ever-evolving marketplace."

Inspiring Collective Action

In today's knowledge-based economy, where human capital is the most valuable asset, the ability to inspire and engage employees has never been more critical. CEOs who can articulate a compelling vision, inspire enthusiasm, and mobilize collective action unlock the full potential of their organizations. In essence, CEOs empower employees to unleash their full potential and achieve extraordinary results by encouraging collective action and fostering a sense of purpose and belonging.


In 2024, CEOs must excel in delivering clear and inspiring messages and actively listen to their teams' concerns and feedback. Transparent communication builds trust and fosters a sense of belonging, essential for employee engagement and retention. Moreover, in times of crisis, such as during the pandemic, transparent and empathetic communication from CEOs reassures stakeholders and instils confidence in the organization's ability to navigate challenges successfully.

Adaptability and Resilience

In a volatile business environment, CEOs must exhibit adaptability and resilience, embracing change as an opportunity for growth rather than a threat. Whether it's pivoting strategies in response to market shifts, leading through crises with composure and decisiveness, or fostering a culture of agility and experimentation within the organization, adaptability and resilience are non-negotiable traits for CEOs in 2024.

Innovation lies at the heart of organizational growth and resilience, driving differentiation, value creation, and market leadership. As the pace of innovation accelerates, CEOs in 2024 must foster a culture of creativity, experimentation, and continuous improvement within their organizations. CEOs must also lead by example, demonstrating a willingness to challenge the status quo, explore new ideas, and embrace disruptive technologies. By championing innovation, CEOs can unlock new sources of value, drive sustainable growth, and maintain a competitive edge in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Digital Literacy

CEOs must profoundly understand technology and its transformative potential in the digital age. Digital literacy goes beyond mere familiarity with digital tools; it involves the ability to leverage technology strategically to drive innovation, streamline processes, and enhance decision-making. In 2024, CEOs need to stay abreast of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and augmented reality and understand their implications for their industry and business model.

As we look ahead to the future of business, the role of CEOs will continue to evolve, demanding a multifaceted and evolving skill set. As the pace of change accelerates and new challenges emerge, the CEOs of tomorrow must embrace lifelong learning, reskilling and upskilling, continually adapting and evolving to lead their organizations toward sustainable growth and success in the years ahead.


Asad Husain is a four-time Chief Human Resource Officer and futurefocused Human Resources leader who is passionate about inspiring and influencing people worldwide to achieve their career aspirations. He has thirty-one years of experience contributing to organizational growth and individual success in companies like Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Dun & Bradstreet, Del Monte, Big Heart Pet Brands and C&S Wholesale Grocers. Now, he is directing his focus to helping people identify their dream careers and navigate toward them.

Asad's new book, Careers Unleashed, is a must-read for anyone looking to unlock their potential and build a successful career.

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 49

Nano Tools for Leaders® — a collaboration between Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management — are fast, effective tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes, with the potential to significantly impact your success and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.


50 CEO Magazine, Vol. 43


“Many leaders excessively rely on existing data that may or may not address the issue at hand, or they pass key decisions to data scientists who don’t really understand the business dilemma they are trying to solve.”

CEO Magazine, Vol. 43 51
“Since most decision-makers gravitate toward familiar options, broaden yours by engaging with diverse perspectives.”


To get the most from your data (and collect the data you really need), understand what you are asking for.

Nano Tool

Most businesses rightly see data as a source for making better decisions. But the conventional data-driven approach often falls short because of common errors made by the decision-makers. Many leaders excessively rely on existing data that may or may not address the issue at hand, or they pass key decisions to data scientists who don’t really understand the business dilemma they are trying to solve. Decision-makers are also prone to leading with a preference, arriving at a solution, and then finding the data to back it up.

Alternatively, decision-driven analytics puts decision-makers at the center, resolving the common mismatch between analytics and actual business decisions. It starts from the decision that needs to be made and works backward toward the data that is needed. But it also requires more from leaders, who must shift the focus from getting answers to asking the right questions. This approach highlights the strategic importance of what we don’t know, underscoring the importance of intellectual humility. In fact, crafting the right questions is an essential and foundational step in the data-analysis process.

Action Steps

1. Clarify the decision.

When determining the decision(s) to be made, focus on options within your control and pertinent to your organizational position. Since most decision-makers gravitate toward familiar options, broaden yours by engaging with diverse perspectives. Ask trusted colleagues or gather your team to get further clarification. The choice set should include options that are both feasible and impactful, and that can genuinely enhance desired business outcomes. It should exclude options with prohibitive costs or risks. During this critical first step, data — especially existing data — should not be a consideration. If analytics starts from the data that is available instead of the decision to be made, it increases the chances of asking the wrong type of question. That’s not to say that data mining and exploratory data analysis have no role in business, but decision-driven analytics assume that the first responsibility of business executives is to have a razor-sharp focus on their job and deliver on their key responsibilities. To do that, it works better to start from the decision at hand and work backward towards the data that is needed.

Data mining and exploratory data analysis are valuable, but they serve a different goal.

2. Ask a “factual” question.

Ask a “factual” question when you are seeking a prediction. Businesses need to answer this type of question frequently. For example, the smooth running of manufacturing operations rests on predictions about when a machine is likely to start failing. That information can then be used to create a maintenance plan. For retailers, understanding the cost of dealing with returns is similarly important: It would be incredibly valuable to identify which products have a higher propensity to be returned. With this knowledge, companies can strategize proactively either by adjusting the product pricing, considering additional measures to reduce returns, or even deciding against offering such products entirely.

3. Ask a “counterfactual” question.

Ask a “counterfactual” question when you need to compare outcomes with and without a particular intervention. These questions involve hypothetical scenarios and demand causal inference, making them inherently more intricate than factual questions. For example, during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, Barack Obama’s team gained a crucial edge against Mitt Romney’s by asking “Who is most susceptible to being persuaded to vote for Obama?” This counterfactual question allowed the team to identify swing voters most inclined to change their voting behavior when visited by a campaign worker, rather than targeting those most likely to vote for Obama or hard-core Romney supporters — both of which would have squandered valuable resources. Their approach revolutionized the way political campaigns were conducted, emphasizing precision and efficiency in mobilizing support and persuading undecided voters.

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How An Organization Might Use It

One of Hewlett Packard’s (HP’s) business strategies is the “Instant Ink” subscription that lets customers pay a monthly fee to receive printer ink delivered to their home and cancel the subscription at any time. Imagine that HP wants to use data to proactively address customer attrition, intervening with incentives such as discounts that they hope would stop customers from canceling. But because they cannot offer those incentives to everyone, they need to know whom to target.

If they ask a factual question, “Who is most likely to cancel?”, and then target those customers, they would get an answer that could be useful in many ways — but not helpful in informing the decision about whom to target. It ignores the possibility that incentives might only work for certain customers. The question HP really needs to ask is a counterfactual one: what effect are incentives likely to have on specific customers? Answering it requires collecting and analyzing new data.

The best approach is a randomized experiment. HP would divide a group of

customers randomly into two groups and offer an incentive to one. Then they would monitor the attrition rates for the two groups. If there was a difference, HP could conclude that the incentive could be effective, and then look further at which customers responded. This randomized experiment is a dramatic departure from the “best practice” of focusing only on customers at the highest risk of canceling their subscriptions. Instead, it reveals whether incentives could work to reduce cancellations, and if so, which type of customer to target with those incentives.

Contributors to this Nano Tool

Stefano Puntoni, PhD, Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing; Professor of Marketing; Co-Director, Wharton HumanCentered Technology Initiative, the Wharton School; Bart De Langhe, PhD, Professor of Marketing, KU Leuven and Vlerick Business School; founder of Behavioral Economics and Data Analytics for Business (BEDAB); co-authors of Decision-Driven Analytics: Leveraging Human Intelligence to Unlock the Power of Data (Wharton School Press, 2024).



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Republished with permission from Knowledge at Wharton(http:// knowledge.wharton., the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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54 / Spring 2024


How subtle, seemingly innocuous actions can shift the balance of power in your favour

It is broadly understood that bold, expansive postures and gestures convey power and credibility. But how often have executives entered a meeting confident in achieving their goal, only to leave blindsided –unsure of how the power dynamics shifted in favour of an opposing viewpoint?

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“Interactions within institutions, such as those between politicians in a parliamentary arena or a meeting room full of directors, regularly involve imbalances of power.”

Most people assume that their actions are their own. However, our research would argue that it is the (often unconscious) responses to the behaviour of others that determine who dominates in any interaction. This builds on findings highlighted in an earlier study by Curtis LeBaron (a co-author of this piece), which examined real-life video recordings of United States police detectives interrogating murder suspect “Dave”.

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The research showed how seemingly minor physical actions by the detectives and their strategic use of the space and surrounding objects – including furniture, a light switch and a door – shifted the power dynamics. Dave, oblivious to the strategic interactions around him, fell from a position of parity to a passive player in the detectives’ game.

Using power moves in a corporate setting

These same tactics can be used in the boardroom. Countless studies show that power dynamics are inherent in organisations. Interactions within institutions, such as those between politicians in a parliamentary arena or a meeting room full of directors, regularly involve imbalances of power. This was noted by sociologists Paul Drew and John Heritage in their introduction to the book Talk at Work.

Intrigued by such power plays, we studied video recordings of the non-verbal communication that occurred during meetings of top management teams across Europe and North America over a 20-year period. This analysis was further supported by observing the behaviour of executives and MBA students during classroom simulations.

We discovered that successful outcomes do not follow a linear process. Instead, they are the result of a dynamic interplay of moves and countermoves as individuals respond consciously or subconsciously to the actions of others. This is what sociologist Erving Goffman describes as “interaction order”.

We do not gain more influence and arrive at successful outcomes simply by engaging in more assertive behaviour. Rather, the body language we choose to display needs to be dynamic and adaptable based on the reactions of our counterparts. Sometimes we engage in these behaviours unconsciously, but there are times when we can gain conscious control and use them strategically.

Whether a particular move is “good” or powerful also depends on the prior or subsequent moves of others. Like a game of chess, taking and keeping the advantage necessitates more than a single power move. It requires a series of strategic steps to defend, consolidate or counter a viewpoint, until one side emerges victorious.

Drawing from years of research and observations, we’ve identified four actions that can help executives take and maintain the lead in any situation. While some of these suggestions may appear obvious, many individuals don’t regularly put them into

practice, or can even forget them in the heat of the moment.

1. Read the room

Identify the dynamics at play before entering a room. Anticipate your peers’ physical movements and consider your response. For instance, note who people are sitting next to. Are they allies? Is this a regular pattern? Recognise the unwritten rules that may exist and could lead to unexpected outcomes. As an example, leaning back in a chair is often seen as a sign of confidence. However, in some workplaces, particularly those with hierarchical cultures, it can suggest a lack of respect.

Remember that the environment and dynamics in a meeting room are constantly changing. It’s therefore important to continue to read the room and pay attention to the behaviour of both senior and junior members. Senior members may sway decisions because others simply comply, but junior members can reveal important information through their body language.

One could look out for facial expressions that indicate agreement – usually marked by a genuine smile, also known as a Duchenne smile (i.e. smiling with both the eyes and the mouth) – or those that indicate disagreement like facial expressions of contempt (e.g. a lopsided curl of the lips or a sideways glance of the eyes). If the decision-making criteria involves a vote, you need to influence both groups.

Plan to be challenged and be ready to adjust your behaviour accordingly. If you find yourself taken by surprise or placed in a position of disadvantage by an opposing action, get up and move about. Circling the room, getting up to present and then sitting next to an ally to deliver a final message can capture attention and underline the strength of a coalition.

2. Gain attention

Where you sit in a meeting matters. For a high-ranking member of the group, sitting at the end of the table is particularly effective when issuing a directive. But when seeking buy-in from others, it can be more advantageous to sit in the middle surrounded by allies or superiors, which can present a show of strength and foster support.

Sitting next to your allies is a display of strength, while a higher-level political move would be to distribute your allies throughout the room to divide and conquer. Sitting near superiors allows you to be physically closer

“We do not gain more influence and arrive at successful outcomes simply by engaging in more assertive behaviour.”
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Michael Jarrett is Professor of Management Practice in Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD. He is also Programme Director of the Strategy Execution Programme, one of INSEAD’s Executive Education programmes, and a programme director for the Executive Master in Change.

Andy J. Yap is an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and the Academic Director of the Centre for Organisational Research at INSEAD.

Curtis LeBaron is a Professor of Management at Brigham Young University.


This article is republished courtesy of INSEAD Knowledge (http://knowledge. Copyright INSEAD 2024.

to them which, if coupled with the right strategy, can make you seem psychologically closer in their mind. This is akin to salespeople getting physically closer to potential customers in a non-intimidating way when trying to pitch to them, or waiters giving customers a warm smile when presenting the bill to create a sense of closeness and encourage a more generous tip.

Orientation – how you position your body to relate to others –and gestures are also important. During our studies, we watched as Andrew, the CEO at a global facilities management company, and John, a regional managing director, engaged in a verbal tussle about restructuring their organisation. At a previous meeting, it had been decided that the company would adopt a more centralised structure. But John wanted the discussion reopened to explore other options.

“The key to navigating power dynamics in any meeting is to remain constantly aware of your environment – the unique context in which you are operating in.”

John leaned back in his chair and started talking and gesturing, making himself the object of the group’s attention. By leaning back, he also increased his distance from the CEO and other members of the group to accentuate his differing viewpoint. His posture sharply contrasted with others, positioning himself in opposition to Andrew (an effect that can also be achieved by sitting opposite the individual in charge). Conversely, leaning forward suggests an attitude of curiosity, while sitting upright and leaning forward when speaking enables individuals to gain influence even when delegated to a “lesser” place at the table. When two people look at each other in mutual orientation – say, both leaning forward – they create what Goffman calls an “ecological huddle”. An example of this would be two colleagues working on a strategy pitch together. This can exclude individuals who don’t agree with them, or at least make it difficult for others to enter the conversation. On the other hand, maintaining eye contact and constant reorientation towards everyone around the table can help in gaining group consensus.

3. Pick your moment

Timing is important when making your move. In another video, we observed Tim, the sales and marketing director of a toptier service company, make an impassioned pitch to the firm’s executives outlining

his plan for centralising the company’s marketing structure. He had everybody’s attention and was holding sway when Philippa, a regional managing director, suddenly changed the dynamic of the meeting.

Turning away from Tim, she paused, looked at the other regional directors, opened her hands in a gesture of exasperation and simply said, “This will never work.” Tim was immediately silenced, and his narrative was lost.

4. Use objects

Relying solely on gestures isn’t enough to have an enduring impact in challenging meetings. To influence boardroom dynamics, consider making use of the objects around you. The whiteboard, be it physical or virtual, can be a powerful tool to maintain attention when trying to persuade. For example, studies of video analysis show the power of the laser pointer to guide the audience’s attention and support a narrative.

Glassware, notepads, laptops, pens and even clothing can all be harnessed to direct attention or form metaphors to underscore a point. Wearing a tie but no jacket, for example, can signal a formal leadership role while suggesting “idiosyncrasy credits” – the right to deviate from norms and expectations because of the individual’s authority.

Effective use of objects can be surprisingly tricky. Grabbing something at random or fiddling with an object can give the impression that you’re nervous or grasping for ideas or control. The most successful use of objects should look planned and steady, like slowly pouring a glass of water or holding on to a pen, pointer or whiteboard marker without jiggling it.

While the data we collected was of seniorlevel interactions, our findings are also relevant to management teams in general. You do not need to be in a position of authority to gain power. However, human interactions are complex and dynamic.

The key to navigating power dynamics in any meeting is to remain constantly aware of your environment – the unique context in which you are operating in. Keeping this in mind, you can then proceed to deliberately and strategically alter your moves – orientation, position and use of objects – in a way that increases your influence.

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According to the Harvard Business Review, two out of five CEOs fail in their first eighteen months, and it's not their expertise or experience to blame; it's their people skills, political nous and inability to build the necessary relationships with the key points of contact in your business. In my book Become a Successful First-Time CEO, I examine three wide relationship areas that are critical to get right and that make up what I call the CEO Winner's Circle. The first two are fairly obvious. Firstly, it's you - any issues you have with confidence and communication need to be addressed before you worry about anyone else. Secondly, it's all the internal relationships within the company you now run: managing upwards, getting the best out of your direct reports, and leading the wider company. It's the third area that's less obvious but is still extremely important: the relationships we have outside the company with clients and suppliers, with partners, with the wider industry, and with the media.

One might expect that a first-time CEO is helped with all these areas as part of their induction, but McKinsey estimates that $1 Trillion of market value is lost from S&P's top 1500 companies in the US due to poorly managed transitions of new CEOs and C-Suite appointments.

Getting the Supplier and Client Chemistry Right

Clients and suppliers may provide the content for your livelihood or your route to market and consumers. They will affect turnover and margin and determine your top and bottom lines. With this influence on your business, doesn't it seem sensible that the CEO should do everything necessary to improve these relationships? Getting involved – as appropriate and agreed with the functional head who owns the relationship – is

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important and worth the time. Establishing a relationship with their CEO is also important as it builds the trust and empathy between the ultimate decision makers.

The basic principle is to make clear what your company is trying to achieve (mission, vision, etc.) and also for both parties to understand what their purpose is. In an ideal world, these would have parallels or connections that mean your relationship can progress you both towards your desired directions.

Sure, there are levers such as market share and which side of the supply chain you are on that can determine who has the upper hand. Former Chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt, once said, 'If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen sie Deutsch sprechen.’ Immediately going to war with a supplier who enters into a discussion is premature escalation, and it's good form to initiate negotiations by trying to find out what is important to the other side. Understanding your supplier's priorities and key moments may be massive for them and virtually business as usual for you. It's reverse account management, if you like, and all the more powerful for it.

We are dependent on the creators and originators, in-house or external, and those who pay for our products or services. The most important of these relationships have to be in the orbit of the CEO rather than totally outsourced to a member of their team.

Using Alliances for Amplification Partners include agencies and freelancers who make up a wider team that we rely on to be a successful business. Just because they aren't on our regular payroll doesn't mean that they aren't a critical contributor to what we do. The quality of their input will rise or fall depending on our relationship with them. How we treat them, include them, and react to each other will play an important part in getting the best out of these relationships.

The difference between these partners, clients, and suppliers is that their agenda should align perfectly with yours – your success will reflect well on them – and, ideally, your remuneration is aligned with it, too.

With alignment, genuine partners should be treated as part of the team, similarly to your company's employees.

The more successful your company is, the more attractive it is to potential partners wishing to work with you. One art that takes time to develop and is often only learned from experience is how to say no. This is particularly difficult if you are starting your own business, perhaps as a consultant or freelancer, and need the turnover. Any turnover.

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"Understanding the media, when and how to use it, why you wish to use it, what you hope to get out of it, and preparing properly for it are all vital."

Knowing when a partnership has run its course is also important. Most partners will initially work hard to get the account and may discount the opening offer to secure the business. The CEO needs to ensure governance in the procurement arena reviews relationships regularly and continuously to keep everyone on their toes. Originating a brief and starting again with a beauty parade and induction of a new agency, for example, is hard work and time-consuming, with no guaranteed beneficial results.

Building partnerships can be the most powerful way to amplify what you do, buying in specialist expertise that you don't have the time or money to develop in-house. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't invest the required amount of money into hiring the right partners for you or spend the required

time to ensure that you are working in tandem and with the full knowledge of your brand, offer and customers. Properly aligned, these partners will become as important as your own team.

Becoming a Key Person of Influence

How the first-time CEO sits in the bigger picture and their standing within it is important. This may be within trade associations, innovation, efficiencies, or environmental sustainability for your particular trade. Doing things for the good of the whole industry rather than just for your own company. Becoming a key player in your current industry will benefit both your company and you.

Of course, you are acting in your own company's interests, but these often align with the industry's welfare without necessarily damaging your commercial benefit. It may suit you to keep confidential areas that give you a competitive advantage, but there are others where the greater good for the industry overrides your own, often when this may be short-lived.

There is also no reason why you should restrict your circle to those in your industry. The best thing about many business conferences and courses is the people you meet and the contacts you make from other industries. We all face similar, if not the same, problems but don't necessarily tackle them the same way. Learning lessons from other sectors can be extremely enlightening, and learning how others in lateral businesses solve similar problems can produce lightbulb moments.

Being a key person of influence in the trade will attract the best people to your company and help retain those who are already there. It will encourage investment in what you are trying to do. And it will ideally improve the industry to be more efficient, sustainable, and inclusive as a result.

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"Being a key person of influence in the trade will attract the best people to your company and help retain those who are already there."

Directing the Media Spotlight

Handling the media is a relationship like any other, whether with trade publishing magazines or the national press. The new CEO's standing will contribute to whether people want to come and work for the company. How they are perceived and perform will likely have a direct relationship with how their company is noticed and performs.

As the CEO, your presence in the media will likely be seen or heard by people in your company and your competitors, those key relationships inside your company or the end consumers on whom your business relies. Your relationship with the media and your skill in dealing with them will also create a reaction with all these important groups. Yes, it's important to walk the walk and provide an example to those around you, but the media provide the platform for recognition and allow you to do this on an altogether different scale.

There are examples such as Gerald Ratner who imploded his company and his own career by making a quip at what he thought was a closed-door industry dinner but which ended up front page news in the Daily Mirror. The general public will put up with many things, but being called stupid, as Ratner inferred his customers were, is one thing they will not accept or forgive.

Being careful is one thing, but being overly dull is another. If you never say anything contentious or answer any questions, the media will lose interest in you. A CEO is not a Politician with a capital 'P' (though, of course, you do need to be political).

If it's fraught with danger and has potential downsides, why give speeches or talk to the media at all? Because when done well, it can do both the CEO and their company the world of good. It can put you on the map and elevate your company's reputation as the leader in your market. Becoming a key person of influence in the industry is necessary to be

considered for the top jobs. Part of this is to become the go-to person for the media when they want a comment on industry-related, big news stories.

If the CEO is handling bad news, it's not just how you relate to the journalists who may have been alerted to it; it can be how you break the news to your internal bosses, too. What will they feel when they read/see/hear it, and what can be done to pre-empt that? This may well be different for affected employees or the board or investors/shareholders who don't like surprises, but they may be relieved when the published story turns out to be better than expected if they were pre-warned, perhaps with an even worse scenario.

Understanding the media, when and how to use it, why you wish to use it, what you hope to get out of it, and preparing properly for it are all vital. If in doubt and with the opportunity, write it out and sleep on it. See if it makes sense in the morning. Actually, that excellent advice applies to most things.

works with first-time

Writing North. He also works as a consultant with startups entering and lectures at NFTS. was published by Unbound in 2017. David was previously CEO of Borders & Books, Product Director of both Waterstones and HMV and Group Sales and Marketing Director of HarperCollins Publishing. Passionately empowering the first-time CEO in his new book Become a Successful FirstTime CEO, David has distilled decades of hands-on business leadership and coaching expertise into an accessible and strategic guide for those looking to thrive in the C-Suite.

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