Interview with Prof. Danica Purg – Dean and President of IEDC Bled School of Management, President of CEEMAN

Professor Danica Purg is the President of the IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia, and the President of CEEMAN, the international association for management development in dynamic societies, which brings together 225 management development institutions from 54 countries. She is also leading the European Leadership Centre (ELC). [1]

In this interview, Danica Purg describes her views on trends such as digitalization, sustainability, and CSR. She also discusses the concept of responsible leadership and the role of business schools in reshaping the next generation of leaders. 



1) Growing up in the former Yugoslavia you have experienced a significant amount of change in your life, including the fall of Communism and the break-up of Yugoslavia, offering you a unique perspective compared to many western academics. How would you say this experience has influenced your views on trends like digitalization, sustainability, and CSR?

Although it must be already a part of my DNA not to be afraid of challenges and the big political and social changes during the first decades of my life it helped me to think of solutions and to grasp opportunities. Even the establishment of IEDC, a “modern” business school, in the time of (self-management) socialism has been a “disruptive” initiative. The time of anomalies in the late 80s’ and beginning of 90s’ inspired me to introduce ethics in the curricula of the School. Out of that the attention for CSR and sustainability was a logical consequence. I was convinced that only the best faculty could help CEE to close the managerial gap. By attracting the best professors I positioned myself in the frontline of innovative methods of teaching and learning. I see digitalization as opportunity to reach more people to improve own performance.

2) What do you think are the biggest opportunities or challenges that we face in the fields of sustainability, digitalization, and CSR?

The biggest challenge is to change the mind-set of people, in order to be able to live in the era of fast changes (what we call “disruptive” today, will be “normal” in the future), to be able to make “automatically” the right decisions for people and the globe. The biggest opportunity lies in the area of information and communication.

3) What are some of the unique attributes that you believe managers need to have? And how do these attributes this manifest itself in their businesses and their business culture?

Managers of the future are mentors, coaches, creating the conditions for others (people, robots) to perform. They need the necessary technical and functional skills, but focus will be on analytical and emotional qualities. Managers of the complex future are people who are able to build their behaviours and decisions on intuition and their senses. They will perform in horizontal organizations with self- management teams in continuously changing organizations with innovations as an “embedded” characteristic.

4) Leadership as a concept has changed a lot in the past decades, shifting towards the term “responsible leadership”. What does responsible leadership mean for you?

Responsible leadership means for me awareness that every decision has consequences for the environment, for people you lead and for yourself. It also means that you are acting transparently and you are ready to explain your vision and acts and are open to critics and ready to change.

5) Building upon the leadership concept, where do you see the role of business schools in reshaping the next generation of leaders?

Business schools have the responsibility to assist in developing leaders with the above-mentioned mind-set and skills. We are not able to “ensure”, but we can do our best to deliver not only the “toolkit”, but also the “mind-set” to be a responsible leader.

6) What do you think are the most important metrics for defining success?

Success for me is a sustainable and responsible activity (movement, product, service) on the basis of the long-term mission and vision. It can be measured by the level of satisfaction of your stakeholders (employees, customers, financers, relevant groups of citizens).


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