The biggest online trader, Amazon, officially joined the trillionaire club after the company's shares rose to a record of USD 2,050.50 on 4th September 2018. Thus, the market capitalization of the giant exceeded USD 1 trillion, and Amazon became the second American player to cross over the psychological border right after Apple that was the first to do it a month earlier.
These are two of
the most successful contemporary companies, and we can also add the names of
Google, Tesla and eBay, for example. The common thing among all of them, apart
from their focus on innovation, is that they are practically young. “Becoming
successful so quickly is something that was impossible for companies 50 years
ago, for example,” says Professor Nikolaus Franke, Head of the Institute of
Entrepreneurship and Innovation of Vienna University of Economics. He explains
that today’s reality is quite different from the one at those times, and the
organizations themselves are incomparable.
This can be seen
if we take a closer look specifically at Amazon and Apple; the companies
themselves are not at all what they were 15 years ago, Franke says, emphasizing
the change. Today's leaders not only innovate, they create the so-called “disruptive
innovation” that turns the environment upside down. The small revolutions that
they bring to the world are the result of the changes they go through purely on
an organizational level.
An example of the
opposite is the photo giant Kodak. The company has been at the top for many
years, but obviously this is not a guarantee for success in the future. The
producer of photographic equipment fails to get in the rhythm of digital change
and the lack of transformation condemns it to failure. “In today's turbulent
times, if you do not lead the changes, you are lagging behind or even dying,”
Nikolaus Franke concludes. He also says that “the mistake that many big
companies make is to think that after many years of success, it makes no sense
to change now.”
According to him, success is the result of innovation and
entrepreneurship, which are “the two sides of the same coin and cannot go one
without the other.” Behind all of this, however, are people, says Franke who
thinks that every idea needs a person who would believe in it and make it
In this regards,
Prof. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, turns the attention
to the technological revolution by giving as an example things such as the
massive digitalization and the penetrating artificial intelligence. She thinks
they are inevitable, so the role of a modern leader is to prepare the company
for them. She is convinced that no matter how advanced the technology is, the
need for a human element in the whole process will never disappear.
Lauterbach, entrepreneur and guest lecturer at the WU Executive Academy of the
Vienna University of Economics, also agrees with that. Nowadays, there are a
few things that define a good manager, she says, emphasizing the visionary point
of view. Lauterbach gives as an example artificial intelligence, which is the
inevitable future of mankind, but not everyone manages to embrace it. She is
sure that in order for a state or company to be adequate to the reality in a
decade or two, it must necessarily invest in fundamental researches today.
“Otherwise, it will pay a high price then,” the entrepreneur says.
emphasized one more thing. “The most important skill that leaders need to have
is the pursuit for self-education,” she is convinced. Only in this way they can
keep up with reality and lead their team forward. An advantage for today's
managers is that while living in a world without borders, they have wide access
to resources. This includes the specialized MBA programmes that are offered by
more and more universities. This type of education helps managers develop their
leadership skills, but also get in touch with business practices around the
world, as well as significantly expand their contacts. One such programme is
the Global Executive MBA programme at the Vienna University of Economics.
“I learned to be
bolder, despite my feminine nature,” says Anita Kirilova from MetLife, who
successfully completed the programme in June. She tells that for the few months
during which she left her comfort zone, she managed to become even more
critical, which, on the other hand, significantly helps her in her job.
“It is also very
important that we were able to get to know the upcoming trends,” adds Martin
Gikov from UniCredit Leasing Bulgaria, also an alumnus of the MBA programme. He
reminds us that being in a small country, we are used to adopting novelties
with a few years delay. Thanks to the Global Executive MBA of WU, “we are
seeing them now and we, as managers, can take action much earlier and be more
prepared for the future,” Gikov points out.
One of the
biggest advantages of programmes such as this one is its multicultural
character, Emil Botusharov, Managing Director of ITA Group Bulgaria, believes.
He points to the different view of the Americans and the Chinese, for example, on
how to do business. “Thanks to the MBA programme, we had the opportunity to get
in touch with both of them, as well as to visit companies that otherwise we
would never have access to,” he says.
Anita Kirilova, an important conclusion to the whole adventure is the
confirmation that Bulgarians are just as competitive as anybody else. The only
difference is the scale, since we are a small country and there is no way for
us not to feel that.
The modern generation, however, has the opportunity to grow and conquer heights
much earlier than its predecessors. “Size is of less and less importance,”
believes Nikolaus Franke, who pays attention to the flexibility of today's
companies and their access to international markets. Cycles are becoming
shorter and shorter and leaders are becoming younger and younger. “Look at the
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who is 31 years old, or the 40-year-old
French President Emmanuel Macron,” exclaims Jan Mühlfeit, guest lecturer at the
WU Executive Academy, who worked for many years alongside Bill Gates at
Today, Mühlfeit gives
lectures about positive leaders. According to him, much of the personal success
lies in “not living as a copy, but being more like who you are.” “You cannot
change people, but you can help them find out who they are," says
Mühlfeit, which is one of the most important roles of modern leaders, who,
besides thinking about themselves, should also consider the well-being of the
whole company. And it follows the formation of the best team that can walk the
path to success together.
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