Back in Cambridge: rain or shine


For the second year, Downing College, University of Cambridge, will welcome a group of 24 students for another transcontinental semester.

Located in one of the oldest British institutions, students will start their semester focusing on global management mainly devoted to the core courses of

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Columbia University opens its door for a new transcontinental program in New York City!


IMG_0702 First day at Columbia University

First days in the Concrete Jungle

10 lucky students have arrived in New York City for the first edition of the Columbia University Transcontinental track. This off-site program has been tailored with a focus in Geopolitics and is dedicated to Master 2 students.

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Brexit: What have we done?

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Source: Wharton

Guest Blog by Phillip Warwick.philipwarwick

On 23rd June, 16 million UK citizens voted to stay in the European Union (EU). That’s equivalent to population of the Netherlands.  Unfortunately, 17 million other UK citizens voted to leave the EU.  The vote has sent shock waves through universities in the UK.  Will international students still want to come to the UK?  Will faculty from EU countries need a visa in future?  What will happen to the Erasmus scheme in the UK? What about EU funding for research?  Will we still be able to afford to go on holiday in France, Spain and Italy?  All these questions have been discussed in subdued corridor conversations over the last couple of weeks.

Sitting in a Business School in the north-east of England, I feel that my academic colleagues and I need to speak-up in the national debate about how we arrived at this sorry state of affairs. It would of course be easier to fall into line and accept the received wisdom in the serious newsmedia that it was the fault of the self-serving politicians and ill-informed voters in the English provinces. I have heard this line at several meetings and HE conferences I have attended in the last couple of weeks.  Clearly politics has had a lot to do with it.  But we need to explain more clearly why we think a region like ours, the north-east of England (a region that has apparently benefited from all the EU has to offer) should vote so heavily against the EU and for Brexit? At first glance it does seem crazy.

I moved to the North-East of England in 1990. For those of you who don’t know it, think of the bridges over the River Tyne; think of Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough football teams; think of the setting for film Billy Elliot and think of Durham Cathedral. The North-East of England is the bit south of Scotland and north of Yorkshire.  By 1990, the north-east’s coal mines had all but disappeared, the massive Consett steel works had shut down in 1989 and the shipyards of Newcastle and Sunderland were in terminal decline.  The old heavy industries that had made the North East relatively rich and powerful at the start of the twentieth century were by the end of the century all but gone.

However, there were signs of regeneration. Thanks to the European Regional Development and European Social Funds, infrastructure investment meant that a very good road network had been created criss-crossing the region.  EU subsidies meant that Japanese and Korean multinationals like Nissan, Fujistsu, Komatsu and Samsung set-up factories employing thousands of workers.  EU funds enabled One North East, a highly successful regional development agency, to fund a significant number of projects around the North-East including the creation of the iconic developments on the Newcastle/Gateshead quayside (The Baltic and The Sage) and the Teesdale Business Park, home to Durham University’s Queen’s Campus, on Teesside.

Despite all this benefit, with the exception of the affluent Newcastle suburbs, the whole of the North-East of England voted around 60/40 to leave the EU on 23rd June.   Many of my neighbours, my wife’s work colleagues, some of my old school friends, the people I play golf and cycle with, the people at the gycameron3.jpgm, the customers at the paper shop, and hairdressers – all told me they were going to vote leave.  Vote leave supporters tended to be in their 40s or older, were less likely to have attended a higher education institution and were more likely to be from outside the main urban areas in England and Wales (they were also the most likely to make the effort to vote).  Remain supporters tended to be younger, better educated and were more likely to be from the main urban areas or they were from Scotland or Northern Ireland (and, especially the young, less likely to vote).


The Brexit vote was not just about the EU, it was arguably as much about an unfair distribution of wealth and power in the UK. It was a vote against the globalisation. A vote that hoped to turn the clock backwards. Those with degrees, good jobs, nice cars, nice houses and cultural capital voted to stay in the EU, to retain the 21st century status quo.  Those who voted against were often the have-nots, the angry and those frightened by the globalised world.  David Cameron’s stupid idea for a referendum gave the angry, the frightened and the have-nots a single cause around which to unite.  Worried by the impact of globalisation, with a suspicion of outsiders (typical of much of rural England) and fuelled by a pack of lies from self-serving politicians who promised an end to mass immigration and divert EU funding to the health service.

The have-nots voted against the haves. They voted against David Cameron and George Osborn and their Tory government; they voted against all the self-serving political classes; they voted against bankers who crashed the economy in 2008, against Goldman Sachs, the hedge fund managers and the bosses of big business; they voted against the London centric media; they voted against the experts in the universities and they voted against the bureaucrats at the E.U. They voted against those who pay themselves vast salaries and those who they perceive to waste British tax payers money. The irony is, of course, that they were told to vote against all these things by three very rich men. Eton and Oxford educated, Boris Johnson, a privately educated, former stockbroker turned MEP, Nigel Farage and a US based, Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch (none of these three villains have any role in sorting out the mess they helped to get the country into).

Source: The Gaurdian

Those who are frightened by change, by foreigners, by the modern world, those who want to put the clock back 100 years to an era where the UK had power and influence, also all voted against EU. Those angered by politicians and big business, all the xenophobic little Englanders, all the racists and the right and far left extremists also voted for Brexit.

The remain voters, who we can call the haves with social capital, working in well-paid jobs in London and the home counties, in Oxford and Cambridge or one of the big metropolitan cities, those of us working in higher education or in the media, did not see this vote coming. Perhaps because we don’t mingle so much with the have-nots; perhaps we thought that our better informed votes would somehow count for more. We didn’t understand that people vote irrationally with their heart rather than in a well-informed rational way, with their head.  We didn’t understand how others see the globalised world as threatening and frightened rather than full of opportunities.  We didn’t understand how many people perceive themselves to be on the outside, the have-nots. Only in Scotland and Northern Ireland were there politicians, who representing the haves as well as the have nots, were listened to and agreed with.

I think as academics we have a job to do, to explain what happened in the UK on 23rd June and why.  If the UK is going to come through the trauma of Brexit, we need to be telling the government and anyone who will listen that the UK needs to tackle the unfair distribution of power, wealth and influence.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Leverage: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture” by John R. Childress (2013)

Leverage: The CEO's Guide to Corporate Culture by John R. Childress Defining corporate culture and its impact on strategy has become a major area in academic research and in the world of consultancy. John Childress’ book, which is entertaining and gives many examples, tries to outline exactly what culture is and how this can be dealt with on a day to day basis.

Key words:

Corporate culture, leadership, organization, management, employees, subculture


John Childress

Childress investigates social aspects within corporations and decribes their influences

Childress is a management consultant and clearly has a good understanding of what culture is and its impact on the results of a company. He gives some nice examples of disasters within companies due to their culture not being aligned with their strategy. Carly Fiorina failed as the CEO of Hewlett Packard because she tried to impose a sales driven culture in an organization that was largely dominated by engineers who simply did not understand what the CEO was trying to achieve. This is an excellent lesson in the fact that performance is not just a question of having a top-down strategy that is imposed by senior management. In fact, the rank and file of an organization and employees of all levels have a big role to play in ensuring that the company performs well.

One of Childress’ big contributions is pointing out that often managers and bosses possess ambitious plans in changing the culture of an organization. Unfortunately, this rarely works. In fact, companies that have managed to change their culture have done so by making small changes and consistently driving them forward on a day-to-day basis. Of course, this is not quite as sexy as the grandiose plan, but it is much more effective.

The book is also highly entertaining in that it gives many diagrams to make the notion of corporate culture easier to understand. In one graph, it shows just how unpopular Ryanair is with a 35 to 40 percent negative rating in a Yougov poll. This has not stopped the company from becoming highly successful. Culture can be very important in ensuring that the alignment between strategy and culture is adequately executed and will make a major contribution to the success of a company.

BBC interviews Google’s employees about corporate culture

Interesting quotes:

“Carly Fiona, the celebrity CEO of Hewlett-Packard was fired for trying to turn a culture of “technical excellence” to “sales culture.” It was a change too far and HP culture was too strong.”

“CEOs can talk and blab all day about culture, but the employees know who the jerks are. – Jack Welch”

“Warren Buffett, one of the more savvy investors of the past three decades, made a bold and profound statement in a recent annual letter to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders: “Culture, more than rule books, determines how an organization behaves.”

“The culture of the factory is its customary and traditional way of thinking and of doing things, which is shared to a greater or lesser extent by all its members, and which new members must learn, and at least partially accept, in order to be accepted into service in the firm.”

“MIT Professor Edgar Schein (often referred to as the father of corporate culture) put culture on a more solid academic footing when he published Organizational Culture and Leadership in 1985.”

“Booz Allen Hamilton, along with The Aspen Institute conducted a global survey in 2005 with 9500 senior executives. They found that 89% of the companies surveyed had written values statements.”

“They found that 89% of the companies surveyed had written values statements.”

“Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does. – Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon”

“Another problem with so many experts writing about culture is the confusion between corporate culture and climate.”

“I believe it makes good sense for the senior executives to look closely at the business processes they are using internally. What I suspect you will find is that many of them are “legacy processes” developed some time ago when business conditions are different and might just be fostering a set of behaviours counter to the culture you now require.”

“The Netflix culture deck, titled Netflix Culture, Freedom and Responsibility, published on the web (Hastings, 2013) has over 4 million viewings and Facebook likes. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, called it “the most important document ever to come out of Silicon Valley.”

“People don’t resist change. They resist changed! – Peter Senge”

“75% of what people want from work is NOT pay related!”

“When you hear the word “merger of equals”, grab your wallet and run!”


See more book reviews:

BOOK REVIEW: “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath (2010)

Made-to-Stick cover

Common myths and stories that are so popular that they have become ingrained in our culture, and become retold throughout the world: Did you know that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space? You did? It’s not true.  It’s what´s known as an urban myth.  These are so stories that are so popular that they have become ingrained in our culture, and become retold throughout the world.  In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath explain why some of these stories ‘stick.’ 

BOOK REVIEW: “The New Yorker: Office Humor” by Jean-Loup Chiflet (2012)

The New YorkerI am very grateful to a colleague at work who clearly to took pity on me after seeing all those book reviews on strategy and management stuff. Thinking that I needed a break but realizing that Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy was probably a waste of time, she offered me a collection of cartoons on office humour taken from The New Yorker. Work is one of those things that unite people across borders. Many of the cartoons are easy to identify with whether you are in Stockholm, Shanghai or Santiago de Chile. It is a nice way to take a break. 

BOOK REVIEW: “Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management Education” by Howard Thomas, Lynne Thomas and Alexander Wilson (2013)

Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management EducationCommissioned by EFMD and Emerald, this book is an analysis of thirty-nine interviews of key stakeholders in management education.  It sets out some of the major issues and talking points, taking the reader through the history of management education to ongoing challenges.  Many of these issues are not new, such as the role and value of research, the relevance of teaching done in the classroom, and links to the corporate world.  Criticisms of business schools have been ongoing over the past ten years, most notably from within the industry.  In 2005, Chris Grey of Warwick Business School argued that they have become just finishing schools for elites to prepare them for well-paid positions in finance and consulting. 


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Noémie Frohn and Loïse Mercier, students at GEM and representing France in an international student challenge powered by Capgemini.

We have been chosen among 14 other teams to represent France and AccorHotels in the Innovators Race challenge. It is an international innovation race between students of 6 countries: India, Brazil,…

Source: Noémie Frohn and Loïse Mercier, students at GEM and representing France in an international student challenge powered by Capgemini.

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French insight to Microsoft’s culture during Seattle Industry Tour

IMG_2918Microsoft… Well, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few decades, you must be pretty familiar with this name. Let’s briefly remind us the Microsoft success story.  It has been founded in 1994 by Paul Allen and Bill Gates (you know, the guy we’ve all dreamed of sharing a bank account with). The name Microsoft comes from the fusion of the words microcomputer and software. Indeed its activities are focused on computer software, hardware and consumer electronics. Its products are in our daily lives under the famous brands Windows, Office, Skype, MSN or Xbox and many others. Microsoft has a worldwide presence and in 2015 registered a revenue of 93.58 billion US dollars.

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How to do consulting differently? George Ghali, Slalom, meets GEM & SFU students during Seattle Industry Tour

IMG_2893It was our pleasure to meet George Ghali, managing director of technology enablement, and almost complete team of senior consultants at Slalom. This consulting company offers a service that links business and technology but for them, technology is not seen as a solution but as a tool in order to succeed. It’s especially Slalom’s new way of doing consulting business that will be remembered in our minds.

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