Interview with Carlos Perez de Castro, CEO of the European Graduate Institute | The Leader before the mirror

Interview with Carlos Perez de Castro, CEO of the European Graduate Institute

How do you understand innovation?

I think we are wrong if we understand innovation only as a radical process of change in the way we do things (it is something that I find attractive as a position, but unreal on many occasions), but rather as continuous improvement and nonconformity in the way of facing problems and seeking solutions in the small and daily tasks of organizations. Sometimes great technological, organizational or other changes will arise, which may produce radical effects in a very short time, but most of the time, large changes (and as a consequence differential advantages) will occur through the accumulation of small modifications, where the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.

What is the role of the CEO in innovation?

The same as that of a Prime Minister in the country’s innovation; FUNDAMENTAL; everything starts here. It is without a doubt the driver and the main guarantor that this way of doing is transmitted throughout the organization and is done in the long term. Sometimes, maintaining this way of working will require funds from the organizations that must be destined for this purpose, and that this person must know how to manage in the first person. I believe that it also plays a fundamental role as a link with the Board of the company; This long-term vision, which must be permeated in the company at all levels, must also be shared by the highest governing bodies

What qualities make a good thought leader? What do you value most when hiring a close collaborator to transform?

Nonconformity, which leads to the conviction that everything that is being done can be done better and in a different way; Together with this, the capacity for resilience and resistance, because in innovative and creative processes, there are many moments where it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is true that when certain totally disruptive technologies emerge, this person should perhaps be an expert in those new technologies, but generally it is much more difficult to outsource a good leader than a good technological expert.

How has the digital transformation changed your sector and your company?

Radically; Until the appearance of the internet in the first place, and more specifically the ability to view videos in an agile and fast way, distance training was almost reduced to studying books and taking exams later, in a process where contact with classmates and teachers in many cases it was practically nil. Today the contact is continuous and total; people see, interact, chat, discuss, ask and respond. Study, memorize, watch videos again and again, rewind and listen again and see your teacher in real time if you want. Talking about “distance” or “non-face-to-face” training today does not make any sense because it is very present; we should talk about training without travel In your professional or life trajectory What has been your most complex challenge related to innovation? What did you learn from that experience? Surely it has been and continues to be to understand and adapt to new ways of advertising in totally different formats, with very clear opportunities, but also with some new challenges.

What are the keys to leading an innovative team?

Surely the ability to ensure that this team is capable of innovating in a “profitable” and customer-oriented way, while assessing the adoption times of these innovations by customers; apart from this, the same as leading any human team

What is the importance of innovative Culture in your management?

Very high, as long as beneficial improvements are sought for our students in terms of innovation / cost for the student; When this equation is not balanced, the result of the innovation is usually not what is desired

How to put the customer at the center? How to improve your experience?

You don’t have to put it in the center; the customer is the center

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