Last May 27th, a Friday, the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid got dressed up to see the final of the European Championship that would be held the next day in Milan, and in the presidential box there was a no less memorable event.
The Alumni Forum has become a meeting point for the IE community. Each year some 1,200 alumni join the ranks of this growing group of professionals and, starting then, will always share having lived an enriching multicultural experience at IE.
This year the event’s theme was “Challenging Success”. In talks and roundtable discussions, carefully selected professionals questioned the traditional models of success and reflected on its different forms and the varied ways of achieving it. For more than seven hours, the forum was a source of knowledge in which those present soaked up the ideas of prestigious speakers, were reunited with classmates and enjoyed the activities provided by sponsors in the networking area: the Gin Mare lounge, table football, the stands with raffles and information…
After some words of welcome from IE University President Santiago Íñiguez de Onzoño and Julia Sánchez, Head of IE Global Alumni Relations, Peter D. Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, sought to raise awareness about the refugee situation. He said it was a logical consequence of globalization that should not lead to xenophobic behavior.
The middle of the afternoon brought the awards ceremony for economic journalism, followed by a roundtable session by Sean McManus, former Programs Director at The Economist; Martin Thomsen, General Manager of BP Turkey and an alumnus of the Executive MBA; another Executive MBA and a Fellow at the US Department of State, Spencer Abbot; and Gayle Allard, professor of Economic Environment at IE. A very diverse group that, from their different positions, debated how world leaders should meet global challenges that range from climate change to volatility in business.
The second block was centered on individual success. Spanish footballer Esteban Granero said that determination is essential when it comes to achieving professional or personal success, because you will always find people along the way who will tell you that you can’t realize your dreams.
Yousef Tuqan Tuqan and Helen Young Hayes related their respective personal experiences, which are similar in that both underwent a moment of radical change that led them to take on their professional life in a different way.
After a coffee break –during which it was not unusual to hear three or four different languages spoken in just a few square meters– there was a series of panels and activities. One of the most original was the “speed networking”: with a format similar to speed dating, it allowed participants to engage in ten-minute conversations with IE entrepreneurs.
The three panels, led by IE leaders, dealt with positive leadership, inspiring women and successful examples of global companies.
There were smiling faces everywhere. Rodrigo Coca (Executive MBA 2015) felt that the event was “very interesting, with a different approach and uncommon ideas.” He was especially interested in the panel on leadership, coaching and mindfulness, with its humanistic focus. During that talk Manuel Cores (Executive MBA 2010) stressed “the importance of knowing yourself and the positive influence you can have on your surroundings.”
Sugata Jain (International MBA 2007) said that the Alumni Forum provided “a great experience with many new friends.” He attended the panel on positive leadership and said it was “inspiring to hear from people who are changing the world.”
Mónica Hernández (MIM 2012) attended the “Women Inspiring Women” panel about the role of women in the business world and took away the message to “invest in yourself.”
Manuela Martínez (also MIM 2012) attended the talk by Yousef Tuqan Tuqan and latched onto this idea: “you can change your life and turn everything around.”
There was still time for a “final burst” of keynotes by Ramón Martín and Hendrik Jordaan before the long-awaited EPIC Awards with which the IE community distinguishes the most outstanding alumni of the year, and which consist of a watch from the luxury Baume & Mercier brand. This Swiss company’s CEO, Alain Zimmermann, expressed his firm’s pride at being the sponsor of this event.
During the Gin Mare Mediterranean experience that closed the occasion, those in attendance were surprised by a flash mob of 40 tenors who sang the popular aria Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s opera Turandot.
A few drinks and table football games later, the gathering ended.