IMD International

IMD welcomes master bridge-builder Nadine Hack as

Executive in Residence

Nadine Hack (right) with Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel in 1998

Nadine Hack (right) with Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel in 1998

October 20, 2010

Last week Nelson Mandela’s latest memoir “Conversations with Myself” was published. Among the many people fighting for Mandela’s freedom was Nadine B. Hack. Mandela said of her: “When I was in prison it was very good to know that I had powerful friends like Nadine Hack.”

Now this very influential “master bridge-builder” has joined IMD as an Executive in Residence. A world recognized expert in multi-sector, multi-issue “win, win, win” partnerships, she will bring her expertise on strategic action planning, creative problem solving, insightful policy analysis and politically sensitive negotiations to IMD. The President and CEO of beCause Global Consulting, she has helped leading corporations, governments, foundations and NGOs fulfill their goals.

Promoting “good deeds as great investments,” her work with scores of corporations creating mutually-beneficial partnerships has included Coca Cola, which she advised on transforming its HIV/AIDS policies and procedures in Africa in collaboration with stakeholders from governments and advocacy groups; AOL/TimeWarner which she helped partner with myriad stakeholders on a global human rights campaign, Speak Truth to Power; Cisco Systems, for which she provided early guidance on it its partnership with UNDP in the creation of NetAid, a global anti-poverty initiative; Chevron, Texaco, for which she played a role in forming a partnership with AAI to develop educational and job training programs; Deutsche Telecom, Volkswagen, Fujitsu Siemens and other German-based companies who she secured as partners for the UN at Expo 2000; and Levi Strauss and MTV Networks International when she co-produced the global launch of YouthAIDS; among others.

She also has personally advised not only Nelson Mandela but a number of other world leaders, as well as having served as New York City’s Commissioner for the United Nations, Consular Corp and International Business. Hack has unique background – quite different that the average business school professor. What’s her motivation in being an Executive in Residence at IMD? She provided some context in the following Q and A interview.

IMD: How did you become involved with IMD?
Nadine Hack: IMD conducted a global survey over the last two years in which 75 CEOs were asked about the leadership qualities that will most be in demand during the next decade. The interview was supposed to be short, but it became a lively discussion that went on for hours. That was what led to me being invited to hold an Executive in Residence position.

IMD: What do you expect to be your main contribution to IMD?
Nadine Hack: It is early yet, but I sense that my main focus will be on helping companies appreciate that engaging non-market stakeholders is a critical factor for their bottom line success. While this always has been true, in our rapidly changing world where traditional “borders” of every type are breaking down, now it is absolutely essential. Getting people even to begin to engage with each other is stage one, challenging enough. Facilitating an environment in which you breakdown mistrust and silos is stage two, more difficult. Within an organization that can be getting sales to talk to innovation and distribution. Among organizations or sectors, it’s getting them to recognize that working with sometimes seemingly incompatible partners will help them achieve their mission. Whether internal or external, the point is to get far beyond the adversarial stage in which each party is just talking at the other by affecting the attitude and behavior of all involved. You hit stage three when collectively you begin to arrive at solutions where every stakeholder benefits, which is the only way for collaboration to be sustainable and which requires vigilant ongoing monitoring and adaptation.

My mandate is to work across all IMD programs to find ways I will add value to the fantastic work being done here on these and related issues. I look forward to collaborating with faculty and visiting executives to design programs, lead modules in existing programs and to write for and about the insights we uncover. I will support IMD in its goal to strengthen its cross-platform learning. I also hope to reach out to my personal network to broaden the diversity of business leaders who come to IMD.

IMD: What is the secret to engaging partnerships?
Nadine Hack: All too often people enter into partnerships without having clearly thought through the ramifications. Each partner must be able to leverage the full spectrum of the other partners’ resources to its own benefit. Initially I see myself as a UN translator: even when people use the same words, they frequently don’t mean the same thing so I help them understand each other. Then I am a negotiator, helping the parties come further to respect each other. I have an ability to absorb large amounts of disparate information and to distill the core essence that has the greatest value and then to articulate it in a way that all parties, who may be hearing the words in a completely different context, can grasp the value they bring to each other. Then I am an alchemist enabling each of them to discover their own change agent potential. My skill at each stage is to listen carefully and then articulate the message so that they all have their "Ah hah!" moment of truly desiring to be engaged. I do all of this is in the context of ethical leadership.

IMD: What do you mean by ‘ethical leadership?’
Nadine Hack: I mean going beyond what is simply mandated by laws or regulations to functioning with truly good governance, transparency, diversity, cross-border, cross-culture, cross-sector social responsibility and the full spectrum of what it takes to be a positive, profitable, sustainable player in an increasingly interconnected world - no small task.

IMD: Do you consider your approach unconventional?
Nadine Hack: I don't go in with a prejudged concept of what the outcome is going to be or even what will be the process to uncover what my clients need to be successful. My belief is that the greatest wisdom is not in me as the consultant: my added value is a highly tuned ability to pull out the golden nuggets of the truth that they already know and bring them to light in a way that they can recognize and use. I lead an organic, self-discovery processes. We have a general plan and direction, but we are constantly course correcting based on what we unearth with my guidance. Instead of “strategic planning,” I do “strategic action planning” during which we co-create an action plan. We break down what they want to achieve into benchmark deliverables. As they move through it, they can measure their success against their plan's hypothesis and decide whether to move forward or to reevaluate. There is really never a single “end product” but rather many emerging products along the way, which keep becoming more nuanced, more granular and hand-tailored as the process goes on. Of course, a lot of how I lead this whether within one organization or among several is based on well-informed intuition, which is predicated on decades of successes with clients from every sector and geographic region.

IMD: There are more stakeholders than ever before. Our world is becoming more and more globalized. Social media is transforming how we communicate. How do you see this impacting leaders?
Nadine Hack: Every IMD program I have attended so far has discussed the critical importance of relationships. In this rapidly shifting time of tremendous uncertainty and boundary shifting, all leaders have an essential responsibility to know who your stakeholders really are and how you communicate with them, including listening to them. The boundaries within companies are changing, as are those between companies in different industries, then among them and other non-market sectors. The boundaries of authority also are changing so who is important in your decision-making is rapidly evolving. This is something that I have been advocating for over three decades, but now at this moment with the explosion of readily available information and the sheer connectedness of everything, it has reached a new level. This has significant ramifications on decision-making and effective implementation. Globalization in all its myriad forms has made it impossible to believe you can make decisions or take actions in isolation. You are not conducting an effective risk analysis if you don't take into consideration the impact of all these factors. I will continue to explore the many dimensions of this constellation of issues more deeply with others at IMD.

IMD: You have been at IMD for a month – what is your impression so far?
Nadine Hack: I have spent the first month immersing myself in IMD programs, including five open programs and two that were company specific. I wanted to get a sense of the content and the style of how it was delivered. I chose the programs that were focused on the areas where I have particularly strong expertise. I also wanted to see the material through the lens used in these programs. Each has a different focal point and I want to formulate thoughtfully how I can best contribute to and augment the thinking of those who are leading them.

My experiences thus far have reaffirmed my initial impression that my style, which is extremely engaging and interactive, is a natural fit for IMD. The information flow here is not just from the professors/practitioners to the participants but among all of them. I appreciate the IMD tag line, "Real World, Real Learning" and its principles of “collaborative,” “open” and “pioneering,” all to support IMD as “one team” - an extremely powerful platform for executive education knowledge exchange. These core values are why I think my style and that of IMD is a perfect fit. I’m ready to plunge in and start building more bridges.

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