Bologna at the centre of the world with the EFMD Annual Conference 2024

20 June 2024

Over 600 business schools worldwide, extraordinary speakers, and topics of utmost relevance: the 2024 edition of the EFMD Annual Conference captivated participants with truly memorable meetings and conferences. The event, titled “Navigating geopolitical tension, AI and fostering a human-centred future,” also marked the debut of the new Campus of Bologna Business School. Along with the historic Villa Guastavillani, the new campus hosted a series of high-level interventions, including notable contributions from Benedetto Vigna, CEO of Ferrari, and Kevin Scott, CTO of Microsoft.

The speakers shared with the participants new perspectives and innovative visions on how businesses can tackle future challenges, emphasizing crucial topics such as critical thinking, sustainability, and the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. During the opening session, Vigna explored the role of leadership in shaping the future of companies in a rapidly evolving world, stating that “Every technology has two sides, and it depends on how it is used. But the drive is certainly towards innovation, and the competitiveness of companies relies on human capital and its originality.” Scott also delved into the potential of AI and its impact on work and society, warning against the risk of imposing too many rules prematurely, which could somehow limit “applications that can benefit people.” He added, “Transitions are happening very quickly today, and AI tools are astonishingly turning the impossible into possible.”

Massimo Bergami, Dean of BBS, also emphasized the importance of understanding and guiding this great acceleration: “AI has a positive impact on productivity, which could help address the consequences of demographic changes, even to maintain the quality of life.” He further added how crucial it is to put the city and the region, in addition to the School, at the centre of discussions on such important issues: “This is the ideal place to discuss how to foster the human mind in an era of geopolitical, environmental, technological, and social upheavals.” Mayor Lepore and Regional Councillor for Sustainable Development Colla also spoke, highlighting Bologna’s role as a partner of BBS and the Big Data Valley: “At the G7 in July, we will present the arrival of the UN University, the first in southern Europe, which will engage with the global south on climate, drought, and poverty.”

The conference concluded on June 11, following a packed schedule of workshops and engaging, interactive sessions. The topics discussed, from managing geopolitical tensions to integrating sustainability into business strategies, provided an accurate compass for directing educational projects aimed at future generations of leaders in an increasingly human and aware direction. “Collaboration is the key to a virtuous circle in the geopolitical and economic field,” stated Professor Romano Prodi, president of the Board of Trustees of BBS.

There was no shortage of networking moments during which participants exchanged ideas and created new synergies to build a global network of knowledge and collaborations. The vibrant atmosphere and the quality of the interventions made the EFMD Annual Conference a memorable event for all the critical actors in the world of managerial education who took part.

With Bologna at the centre of this significant moment, the city has once again demonstrated that it is a privileged place for the discussion and dissemination of innovative ideas, capable of attracting and inspiring academic and business leaders from every corner of the planet.


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