For four intense weeks, Javier González Pareja, a native of Spain and an executive in Germany, worked alongside classmates from China, India and other countries to sharpen his leadership skills for the global economy.
After completing the Carnegie Bosch Institute’s Global Leadership Executive Forum in Pittsburgh on June 24, González Pareja felt energized returning to his job as a vice president of human resources at the headquarters of Robert Bosch GmbH in Gerlingen, Germany. “This is like a four-week treatment to learn how to go from a manager to a leader,” he said. “You do what a manager says because the organization says so. You do what a leader says because you are convinced.”
González Pareja said the forum has provided him with new friendships and a long list of email contacts. It also deepened his appreciation for the human side of international business. “I think you have to clarify and accept cultural differences,” he said.
This year, participants from Germany, India, Spain, France, China, Russia, Switzerland and the United States applied their diverse global perspectives to problems posed by business partners: Boeing, ARDEX, Draeger, Kennametal and The Andy Warhol Museum. The groups presented their recommendations to companies at the end of the program. In previous years, partner companies have been so impressed by the innovative recommendations that they have implemented some of the solutions.
“It’s great to be in a group and work on concrete projects with real companies,” said Michael Macht, department manager of BMW in Munich, Germany. “If I read an article, I won’t remember it in two years. But I will remember the discussion and real-life problems.”
The curriculum integrated three focus areas: Managing Yourself, Managing the Business and Managing & Leading Others. “Managing yourself is the hardest,” González Pareja said. “We have preprogrammed natural biases. This helps us reflect on it.”
Participants grew through individual and team coaching and attended workshops and lectures by faculty from the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon and other world-class institutions. David James, principal consultant at The Coverdale Organisation, helped coordinate the contents and provided individual coaching based on 360º feedback.
“Our very successful and demanding CBI Global Leadership Forum provides an intensive -- and fun -- experience for executives from around the world,” said Sylvia B. Vogt, president of the Carnegie Bosch Institute. “It is amazing to bring 30 participants from eight countries with about 500 years of cumulative business experience together into one classroom, and be part of their transformational learning journey to become even more effective leaders in today’s global settings.”
Rick Volansky, the sole U.S. participant, loved the forum’s international flavor. As vice president of sales at Bosch’s Gasoline Systems division in Farmington Hills, Michigan, he has lived in Germany and visited China and India. “To live with people gives you a better understanding of their culture than you would get on a five-day visit on a business trip,” he said. “People are people. But how they think and go through decision making is different.”
Other participants saw the forum as a chance to experience diverse corporate ideas and cultures while remaining long-term with the same employer.
“I am a complete loyalist,” said Shalini Verma, assistant vice president of Genpact LLC in Gurgaon, India. “It’s a great way to get some external experience without leaving the organization.”
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