The third Transcultural Leadership Summit, shed light on new new challenges of leadership. The Summit takes the approach of channeling synergies between different types of leadership based on building a better understanding of transculturality and defining globally shared values. Organised by students from Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin (LEIZ) and the Transcultural Caravan, the summit focuses on a particular country or region every year in order to shed light on issues of transculturality and transcultural leadership in the given region. After China and Sub-Saharan Africa in the last two years, the focus in 2018 was Brazil. Given the presidential elections in October and the leading role that Brazil has for the entire South American continent on global markets, this year’s focus is a very topical one.

On 8 and 9 November 2018, the two-day conference brought together around 200 experts from industry, civil society and academia, leaders, young entrepreneurs and students from all over the world. In lectures, keynote addresses, workshops and discussions the participants were given a platform to exchange ideas and experience, to learn from one another and to reflect on the opportunities and pre-requisites for transcultural leadership in and with Brazil. The participants were able to benefit from the coming together of many different perspectives, cultural backgrounds and practical experience — in some cases spanning decades. According to Julika Baumann Montecinos, responsible for Transcultural Management Studies at LEIZ: “We looked at questions of responsible leadership and urban development as well as at the role that Brazil plays in the context of globalisation and what potential for future cooperation exists.”

The ability to drive innovation management beyond cultural borders is particularly important, as LEIZ Director Professor Josef Wieland emphasised in his opening address. This estimation was echoed by Thomas Timm, Executive Vice-President of the German Chamber of Commerce, São Paulo, and Ricardo Borges dos Santos, Managing Director of Zeppelin Systems Latin America, both reporting on their perspectives on German-Brazilian cooperation. The significance of transcultural leadership competence and integrity was outlined by Bruno Brandão, Head of Transparency International Brazil, and against the background of previous corruption scandals, linked to the expectations of future leaders. This issue was also subject of a panel discussion entitled “Development of Executives”; Dr. Rolf-Dieter Acker, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the German-Brazilian Society, Professor Mario Monzoni, Coordinator of the Center for Sustainability Studies at the São Paulo School of Business Administration (EAESP) and Dr. Flávia Rocha, Senior Director for Institutional Policy and Strategy at Conservation International Brazil and Member of the Board of Sustainable Development Solutions Network in Brazil (SDSN Brazil) provided various perspectives on the issue and conducted a lively discussion. During dinner, the speech by Dr Martin Teigeler, Executive Vice-President R&D of Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG provided insight into the practice of transcultural leadership and innovation management.

The second day of the conference continued this theme with a panel discussion on “Transcultural Leadership in Practice”. The panellists were Peter Gerstmann, CEO of Zeppelin GmbH, Dennison John, Managing Director of SAP Labs Latin America, and Martin Kunze, President of TÜV Rhineland Brazil & Vice-President of TÜV Rhineland in South America. The morning was filled with various workshops on issues such as responsible leadership, start-ups, sustainable business strategies, transcultural innovation management and working in transcultural teams. After lunch, Dr Flávia Rocha spoke about the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network und Brazil´s focus on sustainable cities in a keynote address. After Dr Rocha, Henrique Drumond, social entrepreneur and CEO of Insolar in Rio de Janeiro, outlined the current situation concerning start-ups and urban development in Rio de Janeiro.

In his closing address, Professor Josef Wieland summed up by saying: “Bringing people from all over the world together in order to speak about the conditions and opportunities offered by transcultural leadership is the aim of our summit. I am delighted that we have once again managed to do this so successfully this year,” giving special thanks to the group of students who made up the organisation team and who, after one year of preparatory work, had once again put together “a very special event”.

This year, for the first time, a research symposium was held one day before the conference. As a pre-event to the summit, the symposium re-united the Transcultural Research Groups from the two previous Transcultural Leadership Summits in 2016 and 2017. The two research groups reported on their field trips to Hong Kong and Uganda, on their experiences and the findings from their shared research in interdisciplinary teams and on applied transcultural methods. The aim of the symposium was to enable the groups to exchange ideas as well as to share and discuss findings and experiences with interested parties from academia and industry. Two new LEIZ publications were also launched at the Summit. One of the volumes collects contributions from the Transcultural Leadership Summit 2017 on the subject of Transcultural Leadership in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Transcultural Leadership Summit was once again made possible thanks to the financial support of Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG, which once again acted as main sponsor for the third successive year; further sponsors were Zeppelin GmbH and Zeppelin University Society.

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