• Business Complexity and the Global Leader

8/16/2010

Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School will bring together business leaders and scholars in October for the first Business Complexity and the Global Leader Conference, a three-day symposium on business complexity, addressing what many executives say is the single biggest challenge facing their enterprises.

Today’s business environment has become extraordinarily complex, with systems, economies and governments so interconnected as to have seemingly moved beyond management control in many cases. The global financial crisis and the new regulatory environment that has emerged in its wake have created new complexities for businesses. Health epidemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the H1N1 virus have impacted business mobility. For BP and other companies, the complexities surrounding the Gulf oil spill are mindboggling.

A recent IBM survey found that the rapid escalation of complexity has become the single biggest challenge CEOs face, and about half of them doubt their ability to manage those complexities. Of the more than 1,500 CEOs and other senior executives surveyed, eight in 10 expect their environment will grow even more complex.

While the conversation to date has mostly focused on finding ways to reduce or avoid complexity in business, Suffolk University’s first Business Complexity and the Global Leader Conference will look at what can be learned from this increasing complexity that will support more effective leadership.

“Complexity is a reality,” said Greta Meszoely of the Business School faculty, the conference organizer. “Rather than attempt to try to reduce it or ignore it, we must acknowledge our increasingly interconnected and complex world. We can no longer just focus on our internal organizations but instead must develop an understanding of our role in a connected ecosystem of complex adaptive systems.”

The conference, to be held Oct. 18-20, 2010, will be presented by the Sawyer Business School’s Institute for Executive Education. Thought leaders and practitioners who will participate include:

  • Geoffrey West, theoretical physicist and distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute, who in 2006 was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world
  • Juan Perez Mercader of Spain's Centro de Astrobiology and Harvard’s Origins of Life Initiative
  • Cesar Hidalgo, assistant professor with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Laboratory
  • Paolo Gaudiano, president and chief technology officer, Icosystem Corp, which provides companies and government agencies with predictive analytics.
  • Phil Budden, Britain’s Consul General for New England
  • Marv Adams, executive vice president, TIAA-CREF. His past roles include CIO of Ford Motor Company, CIO of Citigroup and President of Shared Services at Fidelity Investments.
  • Paul Pedini, senior vice president, Jay Cashman, Inc., and a civil engineer who spent a decade working on Boston’s Big Dig Central Artery project.

“The Sawyer Business School is preparing the way for global leaders of tomorrow and supporting leaders of today,” said Professor Michael Barretti, director of the Sawyer Business School’s Institute for Executive Education and Life-Long Learning. “Suffolk University is developing programming that will support our understanding of the underlying forces that have changed our business landscape in what Stephen Hawking refers to as the ‘century of complexity.’”

The first Business Complexity and the Global Leader Conference aims to create the foundation for productive dialogue to support a better understanding of complex adaptive systems as they relate to business. More information may be found at http://www.businesscomplexity.com.

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Suffolk University, located in historic downtown Boston, with international campuses in Madrid and Dakar, Senegal, is a comprehensive global institution distinguished by the teaching and the intellectual contributions of its faculty. Suffolk University offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in more than 90 areas of study. Its mission is to provide access to excellence in higher education to students of all ages and backgrounds, with strong emphasis on diversity. Learn more at www.suffolk.edu.

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