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Reflections on the 2020 EFMD Conference for Deans and Directors General by the Conference Chair Giuseppe Soda, Dean at SDA Bocconi School of Management.

Managing Impact has become a crucial issue for business schools worldwide, not only for their role in shaping the leaders of the future but also for having to embrace the transformations that have radically changed stakeholders’ expectations. The aim of the 2020 EFMD Conference for Deans and Directors General has been to explore how, today, the impact is framed by business schools’ leaders.

To disentangle the multifaceted aspects of impact, the Conference has solicited open and creative conversations among keynote speakers and participants, on several threads.

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After framing the question of what impact means for deans, also leveraging on the cultural and geographical diversity of the three guest speakers – Cathy Cassell, Enase Okonedo, and Konstantin Krotov – the focus moved to the challenges and implications of the skills revolution for the entire ecosystem of business schools.

In this context, the keynote speakers Sangeet Chowfla, Jennifer Jordan and Diego Piacentini, shared their ideas on how business schools should address the demand on new skills emerging from the digital transformation, by also taking into account the social and environmental trends.

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Stakeholders’ expectations are also strengthening the importance of institutional recognition and legitimation made by accreditations and rankings. The discussion prompted in the session “Towards fair and adequate rankings”, chaired by Winfried Ruigrok, developed around the question of how much the rankings are actually mirroring the quality and impact generated by business schools.

All other important aspects have been faced in a series of parallel workshops. More precisely: the impact of academic and practice-oriented research; the transformation of teaching methods and how new technologies affect the learning process; the role played by alumni communities and how business schools may contribute to alumni’s long-life learning; how to align faculty management models (e.g. recruitment, evaluation, promotion, development) to a greater and broader impact on stakeholders.

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The question of impact also affects some key strategic decisions of the business schools, including their geographical scope, their expansion to new contents and disciplines “beyond management,” the extent to which they have to directly nurture innovation and entrepreneurial activities, and how to promote the various collaborations and alliances of business schools in a networked society.

The conference ended with the speech of Vittorio Colao, who brought his experience in key leadership roles to elucidate the evolutionary paths that business schools should walk to secure their impact on future generations.


Want to remind yourself of the unforgettable moments from the conference? Follow #EFMDdeans or @SDABocconi on Twitter!
Stay tuned for other upcoming EFMD events and we look forward to welcoming you at next year’s Deans & Directors General Conference in Madrid at IE Business School, 4-5 February 2021.

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