Training future leaders: a disruptive model Mazars’ NextMBA

Meet the NextMBA. Next as in the next type of MBA, next type of leader, next type of faculty, and the next kind of cooperation between corporate universities. Pioneered by Mazars, in partnership with an exclusive group of hand-picked, leading academics from around the world, this 6-week programme was first rolled out to the top 70 executives of the Mazars leadership community over a period of 2 years.

The NextMBA centres on cutting-edge business topics ranging  from client-centric marketing to digital disruption, 21st century talent management and sustainable strategy. In 2014, the NextMBA was opened to participants from major corporations such as Areva, Auchan, AXA, ENGIE, L’Oréal, Manpower and Saint-Gobain

The comprehensive programme prepares tomorrow’s  leaders to be insightful about how today’s market transformations  will impact business, teams, and industries, and to be agile  in identifying new solutions.

The content and spirit of the NextMBA now percolates throughout the whole of Mazars through a series of programmes, face-to-face or virtual, focused on innovation, business development, and leadership. The NextMBA is the flagship programme of the CLIP-accredited Mazars University.

Carsten Schlaewe, Head of accounting & outsourcing, Mazars, Germany

"In a nutshell, I’m an advisor in German tax with 3 kids and I cycle to work. I grew up in Berlin and went to an international school with people from more than 35 different countries. Right now, I’m working in a post-merger context: we went from being 300 Mazars employees to 1,000. It was a disruptive event, an event that forces you to think. How do people feel? How do they cope with such change? What’s the best way forward? 

The most outstanding lesson I have taken from the NextMBA is the need for out-of-the-box thinking. Accepting that there is more than one way to see things. The mix of people from different backgrounds, people who don’t usually work together, makes this stand out. There’s also an open-minded approach that not only leads to interesting results but also creates a community that will last beyond the 24 months of the NextMBA course. 

Business tomorrow will be increasingly  international, and very much dominated by virtual teamwork. The need to lead will be even more important, but you can’t be a good leader without authenticity. Trusting people and being trustworthy is key. A real leader encourages people, helping them to work productively and even have fun. Leadership is guidance. It is as if you are in a dark forest telling people, “trust me to take you through here”. The leader is the one up front with the light."

Milos Pavlis, General Manager, Saint-Gobain, Czech Republic

"I’ve built my career in one company, and now manage a 1,600-staff subsidiary in the Czech Republic. I also run our construction products business unit in Europe, Turkey and Russia. The NextMBA has been inspiring, with insights on marketing, and the need for speed and differentiation. Meeting people from different companies, beyond industrial ones, is enriching. We find that they confront similar issues but in different contexts: it makes it easier to apply learnings in your own work. During our field trips to the Silicon Valley, we were able to understand how people there land on their feet after failures and even celebrate them. When taking risks, they don’t consider all the eventual outcomes, and especially the risk of failure, in the way traditional industries do. What’s true for high-tech is also true for my business: at a time when you need to lead through innovation, the go-to-market cycles are shrinking. 

You can have any strategy you like, but you can’t get there without people. My goal is to develop people, and it starts with believing in them. I’ve witnessed shared leadership in action in my own experience, with a crisis situation where each person knew exactly what to do and how to assume responsibilities. That’s more efficient than any traditional power structure.
One essential quality missing from even some strong leaders is the ability to listen. You can create the vision, and organise everything towards it, but you also need to listen, because there is no absolute truth."

Dr Idriss Aberkane, Lecturer, NextMBA

"The most important message of my course is that any revolution goes through three stages. First it’s considered ridiculous, then dangerous, and finally self evident. This concept applies to every domain, but it’s especially useful for business.

Leadership is the ability to take something that is dangerous and run with it. It could be a radical idea, a breakthrough product, or a disruptive new way to do business. 

As the excellent Simon Sinek amply demonstrated, a great leader starts with a ‘Why’, telling people why they’re going to do this. Today, most lead by explaining ‘How’ and ‘What’, which is only about execution. In the future, leaders will have to lead by the ‘Why’ – simply because the expectations of their workforce are no longer the same.
The subprime crisis created a generation that is extremely picky: they don’t want just any job. You have to tell them why they should work. In the past, success was about money; now, it’s about doing the job I love. The world is changing fast. Leadership by the ‘Why’ is coming in the next ten years. In fact, we can see that the balance has already shifted: today, real power is power over yourself.
Why did I agree to teach at the NextMBA? Because I want to change the world. These executives are on a path, and I can change their mindset. If I make my message viral enough, I can change the world"

Géraldine Trentesaux, Key accounts Director, Manpower, France

"I joined Manpower in 2011 as Key accounts Director, specialising in the industrial market. Among my previous experiences, i was a sales Director for DHL in Brisbane, Australia. 

My key take-out from the NextMBA is that no business model is going to last forever – everything will change. Whether it changes your operating environment or the economy in general, we need to anticipate and adapt. New players can appear anywhere, anytime, and challenge your business model. In that way, strong strategic thinking, which all leaders already needed before, has become even more vital today. Change is so quick, our industry can be transformed in an instant. It also transforms our own approach of leadership.

The real difference with the NextMBA is that we spend a week on each continent, and we really get to connect to the local context. We work within companies, talking to local leaders, in local economies. In San Francisco, for example, we were with the LinkedIn teams, meeting start-up entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. It’s not theory, it’s reality.
For me, a leader is the one with the vision, who knows how to translate it into strategy and tactics within the complexity of our environment.
Today, leaders have to be agile and ready to adapt to any type of organisation. If there is a secret to good leadership, it is to be yourself, but better."