MBA Switzerland

ABB Executives Set St Gallen MBAs A Tough Leadership Challenge!

Written by Ifeatu Nnaobi | MBA Switzerland | Friday 18th January 2013 17:26:00 GMT

We talk to Philipp Cranz, one of the MBAs who took part in the two-day challenge that got them thinking about what kind of leaders they really are

What are your core values, and would they be different if you were on the board of a big firm?

What are your core values, and would they be different if you were on the board of a big firm?

 

Philipp Cranz wants to return to Namibia a better leader after the St Gallen MBA, and he got started early on in the programme as the 2013 MBA class were treated to an intense two-day leadership course!
 
Having grown up in Namibia and worked for a South African consulting firm, Fever Tree, one of Philipp’s aims is to help to improve his country. He said, “I grew up in Namibia and South Africa. Namibia is home to me and if you are surrounded by hardship, and people who have a bleak outlook on life, you feel you have to do something about it”.
 
After the MBA, Philipp would like to gain work experience in either Switzerland or Germany before heading back to Namibia. He spoke to us about how the St. Gallen MBA was helping him hone his leadership skills. 
 
Teaching so-called softs skills in additional to hard learning is the mantra of the St. Gallen MBA. The school prides itself on preparing students for impactful careers. As part of this, students visit companies and welcome a number of speakers to discuss personal and professional growth, and Leadership is also taught as a core module by Professor Heike Bruch. 
 
Leadership is what separates successful organisations from unsuccessful ones: businesses are organizations of human beings with a shared, profit-driven mission. Good leaders know that the most effective way to accomplish their goals is to get the most out of their people, and leaders of big, complex organisations have a special insight into how it's done.
 
On 10 and 11 January leaders from ABB, a Swiss power and automation technologies company, were on the St. Gallen campus to faciliate a challenge for the MBA class. ABB is one of the world's biggest conglomerates, with global revenues of $40 billion in 2011. The session was designed to help applicants build the skills and behaviours needed to deliver "breakthrough performance". 
 
The entire MBA class of 2013 attended the two-day challenge which was hosted by Paul Collins, Senior Vice President of ABB, and St.Gallen MBA alumnus Massimo Muzzi, who has been with ABB for four years since graduation.  Over the two days of interactive activities, the students explored six key leadership responsibilities: making the case for change, thinking systemically, personal leadership, engagement skills, vision and taking action.
 
Massimo says he brought the challenge to St Gallen because, "Leadership applies to everyone: family, co-workers and friends... for whatever you want to achieve, you need to have personal leadership." 
 
The interactive sessions were a hit with Philipp and the rest of the MBA class. The personal leadership exercises were a highlight: “We were asked to list our values and choose seven core ones. We were then asked to imagine we were on the board of a huge company and then list our core values.
 
"We were also asked to choose our core values if we had won the lottery and then see which ones matched or fell off the list.”
 
There were a few other fun and “bizarre” exercises too: “We had a magic stick... we had to put a finger underneath it and lower it down with the other team mates holding on to it. It actually made the stick go up rather than down. The lesson here is that to win, it isn't necessary that someone else should lose”, said Philipp. 
 
Philipp says the session was run extremely well run and hit a nerve with the MBA class: “It really touched our core”. He has followed up by attending a careers and job-hunting session hosted by Daniel Porot, one of Europe's leading careers gurus, and is looking forward to the packed calendar of leadership talks this year. 
 
St. Gallen's core module on Leadership examines challenges on three levels: leading an organisation, leading a team, and leading oneself. Particular attention is also given to the leadership challenges of change and transforming organisations.
 
For Philipp, mind-set and attitude are the important qualities of a leader: “You have to be open to broadening your relationships, looking at things in new ways and showing respect for people who you interact with”, he said.

Read more stories on students, alumni and programmes at St. Gallen MBA, here 

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