”Our life is so short, and most of us have such a short memory, that we should only inform ourselves about the most exquisite” (Friedrich II, “The Great”). True to this motto of exquisiteness, the second EMBA Alumni Refresher took place on November 14, 2019 for about 50 members.
However, the first challenge of the evening was a different one: Finding the lecture hall. About half of the EMBA Alumni got lost in the main building and desperately looked for the room RAI-G-041. First learning for the evening: The university has several buildings and the mentioned room is located in the Faculty of Law.
Ingrid Deltenre, President of the Executive Committee, opened the evening slightly late. Next, the impertinent vice president of the EMBA Alumni UZH, Marcel Rohrer & author of this text, allowed himself to make a glowing campaign speech. He, I, drew attention to the highlights of the next year, such as the visit of the Zurich airport with Josef Felder, and tried subversively à la Trump to mobilize his electorate for the presidential election at the next AGM. He, I, have probably laid the foundation stone for the first Impeachment procedure of an EMBA Alumni President with this appearance at a possible election.
And how is the EMBA itself doing? Matthias Schaub, Director of the EMBA, and Thorsten Klein, Program Director, explained the current EMBA status. The traditional EMBA was started with a full class, but also the new EMBA with a focus on digital transformation started a few weeks ago with 28 participants. Congratulations from the EMBA Alumni for this huge success!
And now, the stage is set for Prof. Dr. Abraham Bernstein and Artificial Intelligence. Do you know what the national anthem of Bulgaria is? According to Siri from Apple: Despacito from Luis Fonsi……uh, somehow it can’t be. What happened there? Well, Siri just searches open databases on the Internet (of which there are more and more). And here a joker allowed himself to deposit Despacito as national anthem in Wikipedia :-). And what does this have to do with artificial intelligence? A lot, because artificial intelligence comes from the analysis of data. And these data or even the algorithms can be faulty. Prof. Bernstein showed us very clearly how data is collected, filtered and used to build static models and algorithms. It’s not as if the EMBA alumni had understood every single one of the formulas on the slides down to the last detail, but the principle has certainly opened up to us. Is all this so new? No, but the computing power of computers has improved so much in recent years that undreamt-of possibilities have arisen.
Complete scene change – Professor David Seidl. How should strategy be developed today? Professor Seidl introduced us to the Open Strategy approach. More and more companies, such as IBM or Zurich, are letting their employees participate in the strategy process. Inclusion and transparency are the main buzzwords. At first glance, such a process sounds very progressive and logical in today’s world, but it also poses enormous challenges: speed restrictions, escalating employee expectations and the burden of strategic responsibility on other groups of people. And above all, how can local sensitivities be brought to the level of an overall strategy?
With this final question, the participants were sent to the aperitif completely belatedly (the question of guilt in this regard could not be conclusively clarified among the speakers). Fortunately, the pleasant snacks were still warm…And so we spent hours discussing what we had learned and enjoying the evening in the usual EMBA Alumni manner. Cheers and announce Alumni Refresher ex!
Text and pictures: Marcel Rohrer