Written on 12 June 2018.
The Graduation Ceremony for EDHEC Global MBA (Nice) and Executive MBA (Lille and Paris) took place on May 25th. An exceptional event for the 160 participants to these programmes, who will remember most particularly the commencement speech delivered by David H. Langstaff, former President and CEO of TASC.Inc. As a renowned business leader, he is actively involved with The Aspen Institute as a senior moderator of values-based leadership seminars. He also teaches a 4-day EMBA course at EDHEC.
In his speech, David H. Langstaff drew on his long experience as CEO or Director of new technologies and professional services companies, to deliver a three-fold message to this group of future leaders and entrepreneurs: "don’t confuse wealth with purpose", first, to build a fulfilling and truly personal success; "find your voice", then, which means not being afraid to go against habits and reflexes, and find the courage to start a conversation rather than go with the flow; "don’t be boring", finally, because leaders who have had the privilege to get quality education have a responsibility to innovate, try new things and pursue their dreams.
"The fact that most of you chose to interrupt your professional journey and return for an MBA or Executive MBA suggests that you want something different… something more!"
This strong message about the challenges of an incarnate leadership echoes the "Value-based leadership" course taught by David H. Langstaff as part of the EDHEC Executive MBA programme in Paris. This unique course does not rely on traditional business cases but draws inspiration from literature, philosophy, articles, poetry, cinema and art. Through readings and discussion, David H. Langstaff invites participants to understand their own values and to question leadership in general, and theirs in particular.
"Ask yourself: what are your priorities? What are your values? What really matters to you? If you don’t constantly ask these questions, you will live your life to someone else’s priorities, and suffer the unhappiness that will almost certainly result."
Reflecting about their own values, MBA participants understand where they want to go but also learn to understand others better, thus building a clearer and more efficient leadership. In the process, they give themselves the opportunity to make real impact, not only upon their own journey but, more broadly, upon the world: "The choices you now make will have a broader significance than just on your own life. They will impact your family, your community or company, and the world in which you live. And, as business men and women, it should be obvious to you that the world needs better business leaders. You have the privilege of education, and with that privilege comes the obligation of leadership!" A precious lesson for these managers and business leaders who, all along their MBA experience, learn to drive their own professional transformation.