Lessons from the 2023 EFMD Marcom, External & Alumni Relations Conference

2023 EFMD Marcom, External & Alumni Relations Conference group photo

On 3-5 April, more than 80 communications professionals came together at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School to discuss “defining, creating, and communicating value(s)” at the 2023 EFMD Marcom, External & Alumni Relations Conference.

While not every participant could name her or his business school’s values unprompted, the discussions went deeper than simply reciting core messages. Each participant’s experience will have been a bit different than mine, but as this year’s chair, I would like to share some of my top highlights.


2023 EFMD Marcom gifWhile it may not have emotions or be able to feel values, AI, especially ChatGPT, was on everyone’s minds. It was mentioned in every single opening statement (including mine). While I used the Open AI playground to formulate some questions, Friedemann Schulze-Fielitz, Director, EFMD Global Network Americas & Business School Service, had tried to use ChatGPT to write his entire welcome speech – with okay but very generic results. (We were all quite glad that he did not use them.) Thomas Roulet, Associate Professor in Organisation Theory and Deputy Director of the MBA Programme, Cambridge Judge, only touched upon AI, looking more at how business schools can stay relevant in the future, although he claimed that his “crystal ball was really foggy.”


Maxine Nwaneri, Cambridge Judge alumnus and executive coach, demonstrated how we can use the acronym POWER to activate and improve our networks.

2023 EFMD Marcom breakout sessionBINGO

I did not win. Enough said.

Value-based leadership

After an inspiring discussion on what value-based leadership means in different business school contexts, we broke out into professional groups to discuss more deeply. There was common recognition that not only does internal and external communications around values have to be aligned, but there also has to be individual and team reflection and review.


2023 EFMD Marcom sessionMichael Johnson, Founder and Creative Director of Johnson Banks Design, UK, brought all of the marketers in the room down a notch. He did this with a single slide that demonstrated just how interchangeable our business school slogans are. While many of us said he was “preaching to the choir,” he did make us reflect: Can we be more courageous? Edgier? Take a chance?

Personal Brand

Our individual personal brand seemed easier to manage after the discussion around the lack of unique branding of our business schools. Still, as we discovered, many of the rules and tools are the same. We learned some easy hacks to improve our LinkedIn profiles. Sorry, but I am not going to share them here – secrets of the trade for those who participated. Thanks, Danielle Macedo, Head of Marketing, Executive Education, Consultant and Lecturer, London Business School UK!


Jennifer Howard-Grenville, Diageo Professor of Organisation Studies, Cambridge Judge, first painted a dire picture of our global future. Then she inspired us by showing us the role that business schools have to play – in teaching, research, and in the dissemination thereof.

2023 EFMD Marcom at Cambridge Judge Business SchoolAlumni relations

On our final morning together, the discussions went from values to value – in this case, the value of our alumni. We heard unfiltered from alumni what they expect from their alma mater and what they are willing and able to give.

The greatest value of this EFMD conference for me, as trite as it may sound, is the people. The lively exchange with colleagues who are struggling with the same questions and challenges, the open sharing of experiences across areas of expertise, and the acknowledgement of understanding with a simple smile or a nod empowers us to return to our desks revitalised and ready to continue creating and communicating value(s).

Mark your calendars to join us for the 2024 EFMD Marcom, External & Alumni Relations Conference on 24-26 April at the University of Antwerp!