Interview with Luís Rodrigues, CEO, Executive Leadership Centre Nova School of Business and Economics
Interview with Luís Rodrigues, CEO, Executive Leadership Centre Nova School of Business and Economics

Luís has been an Executive Board member at Nova SBE for three years. After nine years at Procter & Gamble in different geographies, he worked in Media, Telecoms, Communications, Consulting and on the Executive Board of TAP Air Portugal. Luís holds a degree in Economics and an MBA from Nova SBE and has completed an Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School.


What are the three outstanding features that Nova SBE is known for?

Co-creation. We work a lot on co-designing with partners and we care for and implement the feedback from open programmes participantseven before the next edition. This process is already one of discovery.

Balance between poets and plumbers. We strive for a mix of strong members of academia who understand the challenges of execution and proven executives who appreciate the benefits of deep thinking and questioning.  

Forward looking; innovators. We started working on the new campus idea at the nadir of the global crisis, with zero funds. This year it will materialise and the excitement is enormous. We want to bring it to the benefit of the world around us because it was the world around us that made it possible.


How do you measure the success of your corporate learning and executive education programmes?

Nova SBE was one of only two business schools in the world to make it to the Top 10 of Growth in both Open and Customised programmes in the latest Financial Times rankings. That is just a translation of the real measures of success, which are: (1) the shine in people´s eyes at programme closure; (2) the fear they admit to in recognising that things in their work and/or attitude have to evolve; (3) the ratings and feedback they write at the end of the programme; and (4) the recommendations they make for their absent peers and bosses to attend.

What types of organisations benefit most from your executive education services?

Every type of organisation can benefit from it because we do not practise one size fits all. We know it would be more cost efficient but it is not more output effective. Co-creation fully takes into account whether an organisation is private, public, not-for-profit, small, big, industry, service, etc., so as to maximise the added value. If we do not have the necessary expertise in-house we will search the world for it and partner with whomever is most relevant, be it other schools, companies, or individuals.

When can organisations expect to see the results of a corporate learning programme?

Lao Tzu wrote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. So, you can see results immediately, the next day. This is exactly what we recommend as well. Pick just one or two things from your long list of ideas and indicated actions, and proactively deal with them today, or change that behaviour or practice. Give this change an opportunity to consolidate. Go back to your class notes, pick another one or two ideas from your list, and repeat. If 30 executives from a corporate programme do that, the magnitude of change within the organisation is going to be very impactful, visible from the start, and long-lasting.

What are the advantages of having an external provider of corporate learning?

Three key advantages: (1) A better talent development process and outcome. The purpose of organisations is generally to excel at whatever they do, not to learn “per se”. You do not see “learning” in many mission statements. Ours is to study, to learn, and to bring that to life every day in the world around us. In that sense, we are bringing it to the benefit of organisations with a wider reach than they could. Conversely, we do not produce food or computers. We leave that to somebody who does it much better. (2) Stronger impact from the familiarity syndrome. If you hear something from someone you see every day, you are less likely to consider it. It is the reason why children listen less to their parents than to externals. (3) New relevant perspectives. Organisations are immersed and busy with the specificities of their day-to-day. We see a world that is also theirs, but from a different angle. Most day-to-day discoveries come down to “It has always been there but we never looked at it that way”.