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Five minutes with Guy Pfeffermann

Guy Pfeffermann, Founder and CEO, Global Business School Network

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?

TintinTintin. As a child, high-quality comic strips were one of my main gateways to adventure and exotic travel. Later, I found an adult version: as an economist, I was depressed by the prospect of working in a developed economy, say in the back office of some bank or similar, and so it was an exhilarating revelation when I discovered a course on developing countries in my last year of undergraduate studies.

worldbankI completed a two-month internship in Benin (then Dahomey), and that did it. I chose Senegal as my dissertation topic and spent five months there doing research. I then joined The World Bank as a trainee at age 25. I never looked back. It was the ideal combination of doing (some) good and enjoying meeting people in many countries.


What first inspired your passionate commitment to economic and social progress in the developing world?

Reading the great books by Sir Arthur Lewis, Albert Hirschman, Hla Myint, Peter Bauer, Gerald Meier's invaluable Leading Issues in Economic Development and many others. 

What role can leading business schools play?

Good management is key to development. Without it, billions get wasted. Business schools that teach management that is relevant to leaders, managers and entrepreneurs in the developing world can make a huge contribution to raising the standard of living of those populations.

Why do you believe that cases are a great way to integrate practice and theory?

GBSNAny pedagogy that is anchored in local realities trumps traditional lectures. Local cases are essential to making business education relevant. That is why GBSN worked for several years with four universities in Kenya, mentoring local faculty in case writing, and now there are well over 200 useful local cases.

Likewise, we helped create a pan-African faculty mentoring programme focused on case teaching, called Teaching the Practice of Management. This has been delivered annually for a decade, in recent years by the Association of African Business schools. Most rewarding, a crop of African Master Teachers has grown as a result of this programme, who are themselves mentoring more junior African faculty. 


You have had a long and distinguished career. Which achievement are you most proud of so far?

My wife and my basset hounds. No, (even more) seriously, having begun, little by little to convince powerful individuals, companies and aid institutions that better management matters.

If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?

Conductor. Alas, I can't even read musical scores.

How do you relax?

Reading, mostly history.

Do you have a favourite inspirational quotation or guiding principle? 

Keep the child in you alive. Always show respect, especially to colleagues who may be less experienced or less high-up on the ladder than you are.

Guy Pfeffermann founded the Global Business School Network in 2003 on the principle that skilled management is critical to successful international development. Each September, GBSN presents Case Method Month to showcase resources on writing and teaching cases in management education. 

e gpfeffermann@gbsnonline.org
tw @GPfeffermann

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