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Being ahead of the Bandwagon by Dick Suter

Described by its Managing Director John E. Doerr as "an executive education centre that deals in the process of learning," Management Centre Europe has been established here for more than 30 years, organising workshops, seminars and conferences to cover a whole spectrum of business disciplines. Learning, for him, is not an event you experience at just one point in your life. "It's a continuous process," he says, "and what Management Centre Europe provides for executives is a means to continue that process of lifelong learning. So we're a partner with managers.".

MCE programmes can be of one or more day's duration, depending on the subject, with conferences normally taking two days and most courses being of three to five days. "We're providing skills that participants might not have acquired in formal education in business schools or even in other academic situations," he says. The accent is on providing practical skills to managers, often to enable them to address new business situations.

Spanning the globe

MCE is the European headquarters of the American Management Association, which also has centres in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. A centre, opened recently in Shanghai where the programmes are conducted in Mandarin Chinese, is proving a notable success and is the trailblazer to further expansion in the Chinese provinces.

" We call it a 'global network of management development experts' which we can draw on," he continues. "The people we use to conduct our courses we call 'faculty' but perhaps that's a misnomer since almost all of them do a great deal of work inside companies. They are not teaching in an environment where they are just talking about academic theory - they're out in the real world themselves so they bring in practical experience. We're not limited by an existing faculty - we can go out and get the best to work with us."

Custom designed programmes

In addition to its standard range of programmes, MCE offers companies tailor made packages, which can include pre-classroom, classroom and post-classroom sustained learning activities. "Much of what we're doing now is finding what a company's strategic needs are, finding the gap in their skills and designing something specifically for that company," explains Doerr. "We build it to address their needs. We go in with a blank sheet of paper and say, 'tell us what your problems are' and then we design a solution. What we're delivering," he adds, "is the expertise of the people who work here and the expertise of the faculty that we bring into work. And the growth of that part of the business developing very fast - because companies need to invest in the development of managers and they want something that fits 100%. That's where we come in"

Conferences featuring leading thinkers in management

MCE has been in the conference business for as long as it's been in Europe. "We think that we bring in some of the best people," he notes, "not just the speakers but also those who attend the conferences - so there's the added benefit of hearing some of the best people and also interacting with colleagues who push your brain to the next level of thinking." Regular speakers at MCE conferences include Phil Kotler, Edward de Bono and Jean-Claude Larréché, all foremost exponents of 'pushing thinking further'.

"We're always looking for something new, something controversial," he concludes, " and I just read a quote that said, 'if you see the bandwagon go by, it's too late' and that's what we try to avoid. We don't want to be on the bandwagon: we want to be ahead of it."

For further information, contact Management Centre Europe on Tel 02 543 2100 or Fax 02 543 2400

©Dick Suter - 1998

Original article appearing in "Internationals in Belgium" Dick Suter was an editor of the magazine and contributor and Ginny Suter was a regular contributor in the late 1990's and 2000's - The magazine had a circulation of 10,000 Please note that this article was first published many years ago and telephone and fax numbers are likely to be out of date and email addresses have been removed.

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