We need leaders, not bosses – An interview with Guillermo Cisneros, Advantere School Of Management

Guillermo Cisneros from Advantere

What do Northwestern Kellogg, Yale SOM and Toronto Rotman have in common? They all identify themselves as management schools and not as business schools. A superficial difference, some would say. After all, Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?”

In this case, however, the name signifies a radical overhaul of the goals and approach to management education at Advantere School of Management, a Madrid-based newcomer to the international business and higher education scene. .

Guillermo Cisneros is the Dean of Advantere, bringing with him more than three decades of leadership experience at Berklee College of Music, Babson College, ESADE Business School and more than 15 years of service to the European Foundation for management development (EFMD).

“Today, more than ever, leadership is not just about business,” he says. “Business is a unique part of what managers and leaders do – a stage in their career. We are not looking to train more business leaders but to create challenge managers; those who can handle uncertainty, take risks and lead with determination.

A transformative approach to management training

Launched in the heart of Madrid’s business district, Advantere was created through the partnership of three prestigious Jesuit-founded institutions: the Pontifical University of Comillas and the University of Deusto in Spain, and Georgetown University in the United States. United.

Why did three universities with over five centuries of collective teaching experience decide it was time to start another school?

“Business schools were once a radical invention,” says Guillermo Cisneros. “Many have moved away from the conventional education system in response to the skyrocketing managerial needs caused by the second industrial revolution. But that happened more than a century ago. Since then, business schools have become a staple of the educational culture and it is not incorrect to say that the revolutions have been difficult to find.

“In these fixed organizations, incremental innovation is the only way forward, taking small incremental steps over the years. Long-established institutions generally do not handle rapid leaps in advancement well.

But Cisneros points to an increasingly volatile world that is the shape of things to come. “A slow rate of progress is only acceptable if the surrounding environment develops at the same rate – otherwise we risk using yesterday’s solutions to try to solve tomorrow’s problems.”

Cisneros believes the position at Advantere gives him the opportunity to start with “a blank canvas” that older organizations don’t have. Their teaching practices and course content will be informed by the expertise of the founding institutions but will not be limited by deep-rooted traditions. “The idea is to go further in our impact on society through management education,” he explains, “by helping our students to be agents of change by working to create solutions to societal challenges”.

The school welcomes its first cohort of students in October 2022, offering a choice of four master’s programs in international management, marketing, finance and talent management. However, interdisciplinary mixing will be common, integrating faculty and students from different programs to create versatile graduates.

Advantere School of Management in Madrid, Spain

Create change agents

At the heart of Advantere’s mission are three principles: the desire to transform the way management is taught, to create a tangible positive impact on society, and to develop students not only academically, but also personal and spiritual level. Cisneros believes these goals will create an alumni network of “resolvers” and “challenge managers,” as he calls them. But what exactly does he mean by these terms?

“Resolvers will be highly technologically competent, but above all be empathetic and committed to creating a fairer and more sustainable world,” Cisneros said. “They will be able to reinvent themselves professionally as many times as necessary – taking on roles as executives, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, social activists and more.

“Becoming a challenge manager means embracing discomfort and accepting uncertainty as a natural thing in life, focusing on positive impacts, not just personal results, and on collaboration rather than individualism.”

Of course, he acknowledges that the move towards sustainability, diversity and equity has become mainstream in business schools, which have sought to move away from the profit-centric style of business that was once the norm.

However, he says, the educational innovations implemented at Advantere will provide a new perspective on solving global problems, equipping graduates with the creative thinking skills needed to develop new solutions to new problems, enabling them to better influence policymakers. positive changes around the world.

Cisneros draws on his love of music to demonstrate how Advantere’s teaching methods differ from the traditional approach.

“In classical music, education students learn to perfectly recreate what composers who died decades or centuries ago created,” he says. “This is how future managers are traditionally trained in business schools – to apply rules, models and recipes, to recreate successful practices.

“In modern music education, students have, of course, strong technical training and preparation, but the goal and the method is to learn how to create new compositions that did not exist before.

“Virgin, Tesla, Apple, Google and countless other organizations are transforming the world today precisely by acting outside the established rules, by going beyond what is conventionally taught in business schools. Create, not repeat “, he adds.

Although Cisneros still views the classical approach with respect, he argues that there is much to be gained from embracing the modern style of management education. Advantere is not alone in its commitment to creating leaders who will strive for a more sustainable future, but rather than pave old roads, it believes the way forward is to embrace the philosophy that ” the paths are made by walking”.

Promote a leadership style that creates purpose

A spirit of collaboration was integral to the launch of Advantere and will continue to be part of the school’s philosophy in the future, Cisneros said. Stakeholders, educators, corporate partners, and students will all work together as co-creators to shape the course structure of master’s programs.

To reflect how important student participation is in shaping pedagogy at Advantere, each successful candidate in the first cohort of 2022 will be credited as a co-founder of the institution on their degree when they graduate.

“Students must collaborate and work together in the learning process, part of which is working with organizations of all kinds to complete challenging projects,” Cisneros explains. “Our academics work collaboratively – we don’t have departments, which limits the integration of the learning experience.”

Although Advantere’s parent institutions have their origins in a Jesuit order, Cisneros says the school is fully open to people of all faiths. “It’s not about sharing faith, it’s about sharing values ​​about how we relate to ourselves, to others, and to the world,” he adds.

Crucial to the success of leaders, Advantere seeks to create a deep sense of purpose and an ability to inspire purpose in the people around them. “Leaders must have purpose and create purpose for others,” he says.

“It’s easy to tell a boss from a leader. When you work for a boss, you work for him and his personal goals; when you work for a leader, you, they and everyone else feel that you are working for something bigger than yourself.


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