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Ripple effect – how entrepreneurship talks at London's IMD ACE club are inspiring Alumni

London is one of several locations where IMD has an Alumni Community for Entrepreneur-ship (ACE) chapter. ACE London invites a variety of speakers working in technology, art, luxury, fashion, and watchmaking, who often talk openly about their successes and failures
May 2018

IMD’s Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) was launched in 2016 as a forum for alumni interested in entrepreneurship and innovation to come together to explore mentoring and funding business projects.

ACE London opened in 2017 and kicked off with a talk by Carlos Eduardo Espinal, managing partner at Seedcamp, which provides funding for start-ups and is based in London. It also featured as a highlight 2007 MBA Alumnus Alex Guest, founder and CEO of the Zingy Life nutrition app.

“London is a leading global city and given that it has everything to offer, we wanted to take advantage of that and reflect this in the talks, by selecting the best leaders from these exciting industries,” says Patricio Hidalgo, who is a committee member at the club and was a participant on IMD’s Program for Executive Development (PED) in 2009.

Patricio Hidalgo, alumni committee member, on behalf of the club, has brought his network to call on top speakers for London’s ACE talks, which predominantly feature men and women, including IMD alumni, who have founded companies. It also often invites well-known DJs to perform after the discussions.

“The talks are about these leaders’ careers and personal journeys and with their stories we aim to inspire alumni,” says Patricio. “When alumni from all years are interested and start showing up, they begin to develop a culture of their own and this creates a ripple effect – this is extremely powerful.”

The next talks are set for 2 May at the Swiss Embassy. They are to include Barbara Hannigan, who successfully juggles work as both a soprano singer and conductor. Barbara will join Alejandro Agag, CEO of electric-powered auto racing championship Formula E, as well as Janie Schaffer, co-CEO of fashion company Fiorucci. Other speakers are to include Aurélie Picaud, award winning Timepieces Director at Fabergé, and James Eden, founder of family business luxury brand Private White V.C.

Previous London ACE events included, last January, a talk by Adam Parr, former CEO of the Williams Formula One team. “This was a very powerful talk,” says Patricio, “as you could see a well-seasoned man in his fifties who is well tuned to what he has achieved and to the mistakes he has made.”

The alumni who attended agreed that they appreciated the speaker’s introspection, self-awareness and acknowledgment of improvements made, based on his mistakes. Adam’s main advice was to not point the finger too readily because, he said, people rarely like to acknowledge their mistakes.

In March, another of ACE London’s lively events celebrated the achievements of 2009 MBA Alum Tony Jamous, founder of Nexmo. Tony set up the company in 2010 before Internet telephony company Vonage bought it for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars – just five years later.

During the discussion, Tony shared how he decided to shift his career to entrepreneurship right after graduating with his MBA from IMD in 2009 and why having a safety net through the business school was crucial for a successful transition to a high-risk opportunity.

Tony candidly shared some of his failures, knowledge and why Nexmo had to revisit constantly its go-to market approach and global expansion, each time learning from previous mistakes.

When asked about his criteria for hiring, he said he placed a lot of importance on developing the cultural/behavior conditions that enable creativity – not merely functional performance.

Find out more about the IMD Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE).

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