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Guest talk at BSL on the Meaning of Success

Our festive season got off to a great start, thanks to Jean-Pierre Lehmann and Nicolas Lorne who honored us with their presence on the 8th December 2015 here in Business School Lausanne. The subject of their discussion related to something which is very important for all of us:

What do we mean by success and, very importantly to our students and business alumni, what do we mean by success in a business context?

Jean-Pierre Lehmann was Professor of International Political Economy at IMD and is a visiting professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics at Hong Kong University and at NIIT University in Neemrana, Rajasthan, India. His areas of special interest include globalization, global governance, trade and development, the role of business in reduction of poverty and inequality and the socio-economic, cultural, and business dynamics of Asia. He started his presentation by talking about the fact that he comes from a lucky generation, a generation without world wars.  A defining moment in his life occurred when he heard Martin Luther King speak about the dream he had of a country where people were equal.

Jean Pierre believes we are obsessed with GDPs and wondered what makes a life worthwhile.  He quoted a famous speech given by Robert Kennedy where he talked about people need and what makes life worthwhile.  What business people need to understand to do business, Professor Lehmann asked.  The answer was unexpected to some of his audience. “People” Jean Pierre Lehmann said «need to read, need to understand history, to understand other cultures and ways of thinking. We need to “get to the souls of individuals”

Here is a link to the ideas Professor Lehmann expressed in BSL last week.

Nicolas Lorne
works in Nestlé – and he comes armed with 30 years’ experience in various companies, in different countries. He is interested in Sustainable Water Stewardship and Grassroots He is deeply concerned about the most vulnerable among us and he is, he says,  one of those people “who wants to save the planet”  His current focus is on promoting global sustainable water. Nicolas Lorne has just returned from a trip to Ghana and he recounted his experiences there, he saw polluted rivers, waste, child labor, land grabbing and he saw the impact climate change is having in this country.  This man believes business can be a force for good and he believes there are many people in business who want to make the world a better place, people with a purpose. This man is hopeful that we can all do something, that we can all be successful, individually and together and create a better world.  What is happiness, Nicolas Lorne wonders.  Is it just material wealth or could it be spiritual and cultural- a lot of interesting ideas.

A quote from my Irish compatriot Edmund Burke was particularly important on this evening filled with wisdom and thought provoking discussion “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

We all need to have a purpose, to do the best we can to make the world a better place – could that be the measure of success?



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