CEOs on Campus

Senior executives are regular visitors on b-school campuses. Find out what they’ve been saying this month…

Breaking into the Chinese consumer market, a logistics business in a downturn, and long-term finance for emerging countries were on the agenda this month at business schools around the world.

CEIBS, the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, welcomed the CEO of Swiss lifestyle brand Servimex, Pascal Schneidinger. Schneidinger, the third generation of his family to head the company, talked about how he started new product lines specifically for the Chinese market, including home accessories and furniture. Previously the firm had supplied high quality fabrics to garment stores and retail outlets.

China is not the first emerging market that the ambitious firm has entered. It also has a thriving business in Brazil, catering to the country’s middle class consumers. Schneidinger, who began his career in private equity, encouraged CEIBS students who are interested in retail to explore internships at his firm.

At IESE in Barcelona Luis Egido, the CEO of logistics firm Logista, spoke on the difficult topic of Management at Crisis Time. Business came under pressure after the financial crisis of 2008, as manufacturers tried to reduce costs. Competitors started reducing their prices and there was a sharp increase in robberies – Euros 15 million worth of goods in 2009. Consumer trends were working against the firm too, as book publishers lost business to Amazon.

Logista survived, said Egido, by keeping costs under control. They engaged with labour unions and, cut fixed costs by outsourcing some activities. They also arrived at a deal with labour unions while investing more in IT and technology, to improve efficiency. The result: profit levels were maintained even as sales fell.

Logista, which is owned by British firm Imperial Tobacco, made a total of 35 million deliveries to 300,000 delivery points throughout Europe in 2013, and billed 47.9 billion Euros.

As the G20 group of the world’s major economies met in Sydney, Bertrand Badré, the Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank, visited the Australian School of Business. Badre was in town to discuss with finance ministers and central bank governors how to unlock the trillions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds and pension funds to invest in infrastructure projects in emerging markets. “Today it doesn’t work,” he said, “there is a big market failure and we need to address it.”

See an interview with Badre here.

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