2019 Year-end Reflection
What a challenging, thought provoking, extra-ordinary year it has been and no less for the GRLI: two more successful Deans and Directors Cohorts have taken place, the first hosted by UVM Grossman School of Business in Vermont and the second by the Catolica Porto Business School, Portugal. Building on strong foundations, Sanjay Sharma and Sofia Salgado Pinto co-created, alongside participants and the GRLI core team, unforgettable and transformational learning experiences in exceptional environments.
In a conscious effort to reduce our carbon footprint and to maximise our opportunities for creating and reinforcing relationships, we stayed in Portugal for the GBSN Conference and for the GRLI All Gathering Momentum (AGM) meeting at ISCTE Business School, Lisbon. Wonderfully hosted by Maria Joao Cortinhal and Ana Simaens and their team, the AGM provided an opportunity, to all present and to those joining virtually, to explore ‘What’s Important Now’ as we turn to face an increasingly uncertain and volatile future.
In preparing for the AGM, Philippe de Woot, one of the founding inspirers of the GRLI and an academic and philosophical powerhouse, came strongly into focus. Thinking back to 2004 and forward to 2024, Philippe advised at the 10th anniversary of GRLI in 2014:
‘Utilising a Whole Person Approach, experiential, practical, affective, conceptual, imaginal, we must develop our inner dimension to develop entrepreneurial learning processes to face the intended and unintended consequences of the choices, we, businesses and business schools make. We must develop communities of action and project portfolios through Cohorts. We must restructure our cycle of events, build our internal capabilities and develop our strategic partnerships.’
Without even realising it was doing so, Philippe’s forecast has quietly shaped our current reality. Over sixty global Deans and Directors have now engaged in co-creating transformational, peer-based and whole person learning experiences within our Cohorts, leading to changes and challenges at an individual, societal and systemic level. We have collaborated on new alliances for the future including the Academy for Business in Society, Emerald Publishing and the Mission Possible Foundation — with other potential alliances in the pipeline, which will extend and amplify a collaborative call for global responsibility.
We have configured our Board Meetings to ensure we meet virtually and our AGMs are aligned with other important engagements in order to minimise impact on people and planet. Internal communication resources have been strengthened by Claire Sommer, who has been working closely with John throughout this year. Anders Aspling, a founding figure of the GRLI and Secretary General, continues to be an invaluable member of the core team, ensuring we remain true to the spirit that gives life to the GRLI, without ever stifling or compromising future direction. And John North, in his role as Executive Director, continues to shape this direction with an unceasing energy, integrity and continued commitment to a different way of leading, living and learning. We are fortunate indeed.
We are also so very fortunate in having the continued support of our strategic partners, EFMD, AASCB and the UNGC, committed Board Members and valued colleagues like Sheila Killian, who, as a member of our Audit Committee, brings an external rigour and scrutiny to our financial probity. Our Advisory Group is strengthened with Arnold Smit and Carole Adams joining Nick Ellerby. The Guardian Group, chaired by Vanessa Duckenfield from Bettys and Taylors Group, play a vital role as critical friends, providing an essential connection between our Partners and our internal structures and processes, ensuring the GRLI stands by its values and principles of being peer based and Partner influenced. All of the above combine to ensure we never lose sight of the most important element to the GRLI — you our Partners and our Associates, all co-collaborators in the call for being globally responsible on behalf of this wonderful but beleaguered planet.
Two thousand and twenty will begin with a focus on the co-creation of a strategic direction as we deepen our intention to radically challenge what it means to be globally responsible in how we live, lead and learn. We intend to amplify and accelerate our work on global responsibility, through every action, intention and relationship, whilst holding true to our roots and principles of being the best for the world rather than being the best in the world. 2020 will contain more transformational learning opportunities, with the next Deans and Directors Cohort meeting in Colorado, to be held in April, already filling available places. More Cohorts are planned as an increasing number of Business Schools offer to host these unique opportunities.
We are being sought as the partner of choice in alliances across the world, each connection strengthening the inter-dependencies so critical if there is to be real, sustained, meaningful impact and we will collaborate beyond logo and ego in order to effect and facilitate change; particularly at a systemic level, that most intransigent of places, requiring as it does, the need to bring our collective strength to bear if enduring and beneficial difference is to take place.
All of above unites to ensure that the GRLI is entering into 2020 with humility, but also with a strong and realistic optimism and with growing strength and commitment. There is an energy and a momentum that we together have the responsibility to nurture. Together with the core team of GRLI I look forward, with you, to shaping a better future for all of us in the coming year, where-ever and whenever that may be. Until then, as we stand on the threshold of a new year, on behalf of all at the heart of GRLI, I wish you joy and peace at this time of reflection and celebration and send to you the warmest of seasons greetings.
Chair: GRLI Foundation