Businesspeople and academics share their experience of missions, leadership and sustainability at UIC Barcelona

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On 4 March 2016 the Aula Magna in the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC Barcelona) hosted close to 250 people including businesspeople, company directors, academics and researchers who participated in the IV "Companies with a Human Side" Symposium.  Missions, leadership and sustainability", organised by the Chair of Mission Leadership and Corporate Government in the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences. The event was sponsored by Aigües de Barcelona, Ferrer and Semillas Fitó.

Businesspeople and academics share their experience of missions, leadership and sustainability at UIC Barcelona

The purpose of the symposium is to offer a humanist vision of business sustainability based on the cornerstones of the personal mission, the meaning of life for people, and leadership, as well as the impact each individual has on their environment. The main theme running through this edition was sustainable development and concern for future generations. 

The President of Ferrer, Sergi Ferrer-Salat, inaugurated the event with a talk on philanthropy and the world of business. The speaker stated that in the case of companies "we cannot grow indiscriminately without taking into account the repercussions of our actions”.  He also noted that "philanthropy is governed by giving back to society what you have obtained from it in a sustainable way". 

In his talk, Dr Carlos Rey, Director of the Management by Missions and Corporate Government Chair, looked in depth into the meaning behind management by missions and talked about how to transfer the company's mission to a personal mission.  Dr Rey stated that "everyone has a personal mission which can be linked to the company's mission" and thereby the company's mission can be seen as "the sum total of the personal missions of its employees".   

In his talk, Dr Antonio Argandoña, Emeritus Professor at the IESE Business School, forcused on the issue of sustainability.  Dr Argandoña underlined the importance of firstly highlighting the individual in order to then move on to the company and then society as a whole.  

The speakers also included Ángel Pes, General Assistant-Director of CaixaBank and President of the Spanish Global Pact Network.  Pes explained that the role of the Global Pact in order to incorporate private companies into the United Nation's Sustainable Development Objectives (SDO).  In his words "Companies have a fundamental role to play in the success of global challenges". 

During the symposium there was also an interview with Ángel Simón, President of the Agbar Group.  In the talk, led by Dr Carlos Rey, the President of Agbar shared his experience within a group that aims to place sustainable development at the heart of their action plan. Simón stated that in Agbar, sustainability is a "commitment to strategy". 

In the afternoon there was a round table that included participation from Javier de Rocafort, Executive Chairman of the Quimera Group and José M. Torres, President of Numintec and member of the board of governors of PIMEC. They both talked in a practical way about how to make sustainability more visible in the company.  In the opinion of Rocafort "sustainability is an issue that is inherent to business, it is not a choice". 

The final session was given by Alex Harvard, President of the Virtuous Leadership Institute, who talked about the importance of personal virtues in leadership.  "Personality is made up of virtues, not values.  It is necessary to cement leadership in fundamental virtues: prudence, strength, temperance and justice".  Addressing the executives and businesspeople in the room, Harvard stated that "there is no greater leadership or service than helping people to discover who they are, and what their mission is".

Finally, Eduard Fito, Vice-President of the International Seed Federation and Director of Business Development and Corporate Affairs at Semillas Fitó, gave the closing session.