London Business Schools Global Business Consortium

Celebrating the Global Business Consortium’s (GBC) 20-year anniversary

To celebrate the Global Business Consortium’s (GBC) 20-year anniversary, we invited senior executives from participating companies to share their experiences. 

Find out what attracted them to GBC – a forum for executives from different sectors to network and discuss key topics affecting their business – and how it has helped their organisation. 


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Event impact report – 20 years of sharing solutions


On 3 September, to mark the 20th anniversary of our ground-breaking Global Business Consortium (GBC), we welcomed 49 senior executives to our Regents Park campus at London Business School (LBS) to share the personal and professional impact of the programme. The event was a unique opportunity for past-participants spanning two decades to network, discuss and debate key topics affecting the consortium members today, and share how the GBC has made a difference to delegates on both organisational and personal levels. Dominic Houlder, Adjunct Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at LBS and Academic Director of the GBC programme, was joined by a panel of six member company representatives – Emirates, Oracle, Mars, Nokia, GEA and DP World – who shared the impact of uncovering solutions to business problems in unlikely places.


Although experiences were varied and the range of industries diverse, there were some common impacts, observations, feelings and experiences which emerged.


What attracts member companies to the GBC?


  • An offering that’s one of a kind. Members view the GBC as a completely unique programme. It was described as a ‘field study’ – real and practical, not just simulated leadership.
  • Business through a lens. The group agreed that no matter how successful the company, there is always room to grow. That’s why being observed through the lens of industries outside of their own is a completely new proposition.
  • Avoiding introspectiveness. The member companies are large established organisations and therefore retain their staff. The programme offers fresh insights for employees that have been with the same company, and indeed the same industry, for sustained periods.
  • Maintaining a customer-focused approach. Customers are crucial to any business, in any industry. As customer requirements shift – to a demand for increased personalisation, awareness of sustainability and technology-based offerings – the GBC creates a rich pool of non-competitive knowledge-share among other members.
  • Benchmarking executive teams. CEOs leverage the opportunity to challenge their senior management team: to flex leadership styles, strategies and inspire performance at the highest level.   

What attracts the individual to the GBC?

  • A ‘rite of passage’. This became a motif for the day. In most cases, executives were selected to attend the GBC. This gave members a feeling that the programme was a ‘rite of passage’ for a select, senior group.
  • Leadership with a difference. Senior executives who attended the programme returned to the workplace changed. The way they executed strategy, their new perspectives and increased awareness of regional, market and global activities were all marked differences. This created a desire for individuals who had not yet attended, to do so.
  • A new common language. Members shared a new and common language on return to the business. The rhetoric included learning from companies’ mistakes, which, on GBC was shared openly, but for non-participants outside of the trusted environment, remained private.


The personal impact of GBC


  • Two-way trust. Each participant digs deep to share honest experiences: good and bad. These experiences are reciprocated, in a safe setting. No person is judged or exposed. Executives respect each other, they know they represent the best of their business, and they benefit from the knowledge they share.
  • Honest feedback. The group expressed comradery for each other, often colleagues they had never met before. They felt that the candid feedback they received personally would have been difficult to achieve in any other environment.
  • Recognised for expertise. This was a common theme. The programme contributed different viewpoints, adding to each executive’s personal offering. As a result delegates had gone on to do ‘bigger’ jobs within their companies – often in other parts of the business – and were more widely recognised for their expertise.
  • Shared experiences. Delegates benefited from shared experiences, shared lessons and shared challenges. The informal discussions, the ones over drinks, lunch and dinner, meant that formalities were stripped back, which helped them to problem-solve, reflect and debate.

The impact of the GBC on member companies


  • Frameworks and tools. Tried and tested models, practices and strategies are rare to uncover in their truest forms. Delegates shared the tools and frameworks which worked, as well as the ones which hadn’t, to the benefit of their peers and in so doing, their organisations.
  • Ideas brought to life. While strategies and situations differed, GBC accelerated, developed and helped launch ideas promoted through the CEO Challenge. In some situations, pilot projects were launched in reality, post-programme.
  • Transformation. Every company undergoes a transformation at some point in its existence, to maintain competitive edge. But the group gave credit to the GBC for playing an important role in some of the member companies’ biggest transformations.   
  • Internal networks. Participants returned to their differing parts of the business with new internal networks. Their shared experiences improved communications and developed a greater understanding of differing segments, regions and departments within the business.
  • Improved systems. After receiving honest feedback from members outside of their immediate industries, companies developed processes, management models and business systems, for the better.

The 20th anniversary event opened up an insightful dialogue and connected the latest participants with those from the “early years”.  We look forward to bringing an insider’s perspective to member companies in years to come.

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