IEDP Thunderbird Conference Coverage

IEDP Thunderbird Conference Coverage

‘Shaping Executive Education in the 4th Industrial Revolution’

Inclusion | Intelligence | Innovation | Impact

IEDP Thunderbird Team Development Conference Coverage


As UNICON Board Chair Lise Hammergren notes, “We find ourselves in the midst of a global challenge, which has greatly impacted our industry.” And yet here the industry is – convening via a clever cocktail of the latest virtual learning technologies and digital collaboration tools – for what is the most inclusive and global UNICON conference to date.

‘Shaping Executive Education in the 4th Industrial Revolution’, is the given challenge of the conference – one that is taken up and viewed through the lenses of four ‘I’s: Inclusion, Intelligence, Innovation, and Impact – with each day of conference focusing on a new ‘I’. Day One is Inclusion, as covered in this article.


Intelligence is a short-hand,” posits Dean Khagram, setting out the theme for day two of UNICON’s team development conference 2020. “Whatever language you prefer to use, we are talking about: competencies, fluencies, skillsets – including social, and emotional, and environmental, and psychological, and global mindsets. What are the range of intelligences that are increasingly needed of us, and wanted by organizations and professionals around the world?”

Finally, from Dean Khagram, an insight from industry that hints at another critical form of intelligence, especially key in relation to the future of executive education and its unique advantages. “This was from a conversation with a CEO, who said to me; ‘Real-time learning, rapid learning, on demand learning, we want to go quicker, and we want multiple ways to get access – Sanjeev – we’re with you, that’s what we need! – we need learning on time. But, there’s something else too: what I am trying to figure out is how to create the reflective space, that my staff need, to go with that. What executive education does at its best is create that time to reflect and for introspection, and that is how our people become a better part of our organization.’ How can we create that time for reflection in a digital world?” asks Dean Khagram.


If the pandemic has been the accelerant of 2020’s rapid innovation, then it is the 4th Industrial Revolution and the twelve interacting technologies it brings, that provides the fuel for what comes next.

Heather Haseley’s closes by drawing some of these separate strands together, urging us to ask ourselves, “How can we make our learning more engaging, more authentic, and more playful? And if technology helps us get there, that’s great – but if it doesn’t, we shouldn’t feel we have to use it. We should think more about the types of experiences we’re providing, and use technology to enable those experiences, rather than try to let technology lead us.”


“This decade is probably the most consequential decade in the history of humanity,” says Kumi Naidoo, former International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, and former Secretary General of Amnesty International. “It is in this decade that humanity will figure out whether we can rise to the imminent challenge of catastrophic climate change, or whether in fact we are going to be on an irreversible path towards it.” As a clarion call for business leaders, and executive educators by close association, it does not get any clearer than that.

Knowledge sharing, listening, learning from one another—reciprocity. To view the week in the round, it is clear that reciprocity is absolutely at the heart of this conference and typifies the role UNICON plays within the executive education sector. It is noteworthy that 2020’s conference, hosted by the Thunderbird Global School of Management, has been the most global in make-up to date, the best attended and most inclusive – all of which serves to deepen and enrich the value of the reciprocal engagement taking place here—as does the diverse range of voices curated and included across the week. Finally, it has also been – by necessity at first, and then by careful design – the most digital UNICON conference to date, employing a variety of leading-edge delivery tools and techniques, as well as offering social and networking elements in a virtual reality setting – and offering a new high-water mark for the sector to draw ideas and inspiration from in their own virtual offerings, for 2021 and beyond.


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