Doing Good Doing Well 2017: MBAs and Purpose beyond Profit

The recent IESE Doing Good Doing Well conference saw thought leaders, business heads and MBA students discuss topics around the powerful theme of Purpose Beyond Profit. Organizer Daniel Serra (Class of 2017) tells us his takeaway from this year's edition.

In February, the IESE Responsible Business Club successfully hosted the 15th edition of IESE Doing Good Doing Well Conference (DGDW), one of biggest student-run event of its type in the world. I had the privilege to lead a team of 18 of the most talented people that brought together 58 guest-speakers to participate in 20 sessions, from panels and debates to competitions and workshops.

 

Professor Henry Mintzberg, from the McGill University of Canada, wrote a well-known book about MBA education. In “Managers Not MBAs” he suggests that business schools are failing when giving us a business and management education. For him, to be a manager is a balance of Technique, Experience and Insight, and to find the right mixture of these three pillars is an art. In his opinion, MBA schools are giving too much attention to the technique and relegating to the background, especially, the development of our capacity of insight.

 

We, MBA students, are all at the beginning of our careers, so experience is not our strongest suit. But I do feel we will get there, with time. To agree with Professor Mintzberg, we can say that technique is paramount, and we are acquiring it because we have the privilege to attend IESE, one of the best MBA programs in the world. But respectfully disagreeing with the Professor, I believe that having a conference like DGDW discussing pertinent issues involving sustainable businesses and purpose beyond profit is a symbol of our desire to be insightful managers and true leaders. We are looking forward to becoming leaders aware of our environment, active members of our communities and zealous of our legacy, willing to guide organizations towards the greater good, not just for the benefit of humankind, but also for the whole planet.

Panel speaker discussing Purpose Beyond Profit

One of the panel discussions during the conference

So we were very happy to have with us in this year’s edition of DGDW many concrete examples which demonstrated that generating positive impact is possible, profitable and cool! Here, I will mention two great moments we have had and that I found personally meaningful. Firstly, we were inspired by Chad Larson, Co-founder of M-Kopa, and his business of providing electricity to low income populations in Africa. From his speech, he left us a challenge: to take emerging technologies and apply them to basic world problems. From Ramon Barbero, Co-founder of a Barcelona-based fashion brand called Brava Fabrics, we heard a heart-touching, but often forgotten, message. When commenting about the work conditions of the fashion industry, he said: “I could not allow my company to be based on the suffering of others”. Something that each of us should also be responsible for as consumers, but even more when running a company.

 

The 15th edition of DGDW was a statement that we don’t simply want to use our technical abilities to be efficient doing things that have proven harmful to the majority, while benefiting just a few. We would rather leverage the privilege we have had to empathize with those in need, to reinvent businesses and to create a sustainable and fairer world. This intention was clear to me while collaborating with my fellow organizers of the conference – to whom I would like to thank very much for the great journey together. An amazing group of talented people that always looked to the “responsible business field” not as a job opportunity niche, but as set of values that should be brought to every organization, despite sector, size or complexity.

A successful day of workshops and discussions at DGDW

A successful day of workshops and discussions at DGDW

The Maestro Riccardo Mutti, who conducted some of the greatest orchestras in the world, once said that the musical notes played by a musician are nothing but expressions of a feeling. The organization of DGDW had inspired us to work to make our professional activities an expression of a feeling, to create an orchestra of interdependent individuals playing together to generate positive impact in the world.

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