Where did the idea for creating a European Executive Forum come from? How is this congress different from so many other economic events in Poland?
AK: The first thing that makes this congress special is the fact that Poland’s first president democratically elected for two terms got involved in it [smiles]. Seriously, though, the economic crisis which came to Europe two years ago forced many political and business leaders to rethink their strategy for the next few years. Some didn’t manage to adjust to the new, highly altered circumstances, others did but with varying results. While I was meeting with politicians I kept hearing that it would be great to exchange some of our observations on politics and business with political elites from other countries. This gave us the impulse to join forces and create a platform for exchanging experiences. The idea finally took the form of the European Executive Forum.
We want both the panel speakers as well as participants to represent the highest global level [of decision makers] so that they will be able to exchange unique experiences. There is not a single “star” at the congress; the guests and participants of the European Executive Forum will all be equals as they are the most prominent and outstanding experts in their fields.
BR: The purpose of organizing the congress is to answer the question: “What kind of management does today’s Europe need?” The market environment that we operate in can be unpredictable therefore we try to present ideas that will equip contemporary leaders with tools they need to face all the challenges that organizations encounter today.
We have begun cooperating with the best business schools and MBA programs in Europe, as well as the leading business practices. What inspired us to do this was my own experience, which tells me that any knowledge you get from an MBA program very quickly becomes out of date. Many managers and company presidents have complained that they don’t have enough time to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. The forum is to become the most cutting-edge and up-to-date knowledge base in management.
Why did you decide to invite politicians, businesspeople as well as scientists? Why do former political leaders form the biggest of these groups?
AK: As I mentioned before, the cooperation between [my foundation] Amicus Europae and Executive Club has already brought together business with politics. Leadership stems from politics and many of our guests have suggested that such an important event should include both people who create management systems and strategies as well as those responsible for the administrative and political framework for business. As far as former politicians are concerned, we have tried to bring together the greatest minds with the highest authority, politicians with unquestionable merits and achievements.
Former politicians can present their independent and unbiased opinions. They do not succumb to current political pressures which very often influence those still active in politics. However, there is a very fine line between an active and a former politician.
BR: By joining forces with President Kwaśniewski’s foundation, we have managed to find the origins of leadership by combining business with science and politics. We have secured the cooperation of professor Manfred Kets de Vries from [business school] INSEAD, the greatest European scientific authority in the area of leadership. Professor de Vries, inspired by the unique combination of science, politics and business, made the time in his very busy schedule to appear at our congress as a special guest. Combining theory with practical application is the best platform for exchanging experiences.
Is a time of economic crisis good for creating a leadership forum?
AK: It’s the best time. We need to reevaluate and redefine the role of leadership. An economic crisis is demanding, but it also creates extraordinary leaders. We want to show how difficult times – and economic crises definitely qualifies as such – help true leaders grow. It is the right time for leaders who set new standards and not just go with the flow.
BR: The year 2013 is to be the breakthrough year, the year when recovery begins, but also the moment of truth for economy and business. Economic crisis requires hard work and helps distinguish true leaders from mere administrators. Our forum will be an ideal platform for exchanging views on this matter.
From Warsaw Business Journal
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