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Reflections: GBSN 2017 Annual Conference

With just 7 weeks in my new role as CEO of GBSN, I approached the GBSN Annual Conference with great anticipation. Since my arrival in Washington in early September I had witnessed the tremendous efforts of Fabienne Jolivert, Network Engagement Officer, and Nicole Zefran, Marketing and Communications Officer, other staff and our interns as they planned the myriad details associated with the one-day Annual Members Meeting and two-day (and night!) conference. Without previous experience attending these events, I did not know what to expect.

I was not disappointed! In fact, I was overwhelmed with inspiration in so many ways. The conference convened over 150 participants in Washington D.C., breaking an attendance record for GBSN. We had the pleasure of welcoming 63 academic institutions from 33 nations, colleagues from the private sector, peer organizations, including representatives from EFMD, The Center for Global Enterprise, AACSB International, AMREF, and the African Capacity Building Foundation and colleagues from the development sector, including representatives from The World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and USAID. The Agenda also included the highest amount of sessions and speakers in GBSN conference history.

But beyond the numbers, it was and extraordinary opportunity to convene a group of people from around the world who possess a shared vision to advance economic development through business education. And what we heard was an incredible display of determination, innovative thinking and energy to power new pathways to prosperity. Our keynote speakers provided a rich array of perspectives, starting with Paul Romer, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank, who gave us a global view of the impact of business education. Margee Ensign shared her experiences in leading a university under incredibly dire circumstances in Nigeria, and how she persevered to keep the university open and to broker a regional peace accord. Anne Black from Goldman Sachs Gives demonstrated the impact that education is having through their 10,000 Women program.

Session speakers spoke about how to use Global Virtual Teams to teach entrepreneurial skills in Bhutan, or how inter-academic collaboration was fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia, or the case of higher education as a driver for sustainable development, to name a few.

As I observed the proceedings over the course of three days, what struck me most was the openness and trust among conference participants to discuss a range of challenges we face in our efforts to improve economic development and to collectively celebrate the successes that we have had in our pursuit to improving economic gains through management education. There was no agenda other than to learn from one another, provide support and encouragement and to leave Washington with many more friends, colleagues and ideas than they came with.

Pictures from the conference can be found here

Speaker presentations can be found here

Nairobi is the destination of our next Annual Conference and I eagerly look forward to another inspiring event!

Save the Date!

GBSN 2018 Annual Conference
November 7-9, 2018
Nairobi, Kenya
Co-hosted by Strathmore Business School and the Chandaria School of Business, USIU-Africa

Stephen Sacca is the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Business School Network.