INSEAD Participant Interview

Getting a Refresh With Board Member Training at INSEAD

Sergio Quiroga da Cunha

President of Ericsson for Latin America and Caribbean

Sergio Quiroga da Cunha is President of Ericsson for Latin America and Caribbean. He attended the International Directors Programme and is recipient of the INSEAD Certificate in Corporate Governance. Here he shares his experience of attending the programme and the benefits of being awarded the Certificate.

Given your professional experience, why did you choose to come on the International Directors Programme?

I had spent the past couple of years looking for a programme that would give me something else other than Latin America, telecommunications and Ericsson perspectives. I wanted a reality check of myself, my company, Latin America and my industry. And, of course, I was looking for a programme that would put me one step ahead of the competition.

My HR department came across the International Directors Programme. We evaluated it and it seemed to tick all the boxes that would help me achieving my goal.

Although I had participated in many internal educational programmes, I was always surrounded by my colleagues. The International Directors Programme was the opportunity to get away from the day to day work environment and indeed, I was the only participant from the telecommunications industry. It was excellent. 

Do you think that the participant mix added to the learning experience?

It absolutely did. It was a great mix. Everyone had completely different backgrounds, brought different knowledge and experiences and there were many industries represented. We also came from all corners of the world. We met and we talked. We shared our knowledge and we spoke about our respective industries. It was an enriching experience.

Despite this diversity, did you find that you shared common challenges?

Definitely. For example, when it came to discussions about strategy, what we found was that we have all done the 5%, the planning. How do we do the 95%, the execution? We spent time talking about how to put into practice our strategies, how to execute it. Everyone had examples they could bring to the table and we shared knowledge and points of view on how to take action.

This is not something that we get to do in our daily lives so it was refreshing. The school, the professors, the other participants: it all put us in the right mood to rethink our professional lives.

What do you consider to be the highlights of the programme?

It’s hard to point out some particular highlights as I liked it all! It all came together to build an excellent programme. The teachers were well prepared. The learning environment was great and really contributed to gaining global knowledge.

What were your main takeaways from the programme?

There were many, but the most important was that companies need to have board members that add value to the strategy creation and to the execution process. They need to add value to the business.

Did the programme challenge you?

Not so much challenged as giving me the reality check I mentioned. I have been with Ericsson for over 20 years. It’s a great company with a long history. Being a leading company with such a long history means it is important to get that check from experts in theoretical thinking. The International Directors Programme really delivered on this.

Were you looking to complete the Certificate from the outset?

I was not searching for the Certificate. I was searching to gain knowledge and to change something in my life. The Certificate was a bonus and I really appreciate it.

What are the advantages of having the Certificate?

The main advantage I can think of is the work that you put into the Certificate, particularly the paper that you must write to gain the Certification. For example, you can come on an executive education programme, put in the attendance and then go home. It won’t be long before you have forgotten everything. Or, you can come to the International Directors Programme, read the materials and then work towards writing your paper. I left the programme and then between modules, I reviewed what I had learnt and thought about how I was going to apply my new knowledge. In my paper, I focused on the long-term. In other words, how would I use this knowledge over time; how am I executing the methodology?

So, writing the paper helps you realise what you have done differently and what you are applying as a direct result of your learning on the programme. It helps me understand how I am changing the strategy execution of my company. Doing the paper and doing a project of that kind is excellent.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing the Certificate?

Perhaps the Certificate is not needed in some countries, but you never know if that might change in the future. It is not just a ‘good to have’. You are going to gain a lot from having it; gain a lot from the process of obtaining it. And for this reason, I really would recommend it. It’s more work, but it is going to get more value from your time at INSEAD as a result. You are going to gain more because it is going to make you think about all the knowledge you have absorbed in and the subjects that have been covered. So I would say: come to INSEAD, exchange knowledge, refresh yourself with new ideas, meet high level people from different industries all over the world and be Certified.

Want to know more about the International Directors Programme? Start by clicking here for more information and for an application form.

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