Stimulating, inspiring, practical

2021 EMBAC Conference plenaries

As the EMBA world continues to change, EMBAC has organized a menu of plenary sessions that help you understand the evolution of the industry and offer you ways to strengthen your effectiveness.

From the forward-thinking to the pragmatic development of skills you can use to candid looks at the state of the EMBA industry, the 2021 slate of plenaries will help the EMBA community of innovators continue the tradition of breaking new ground. Take a look at offerings below.

QUICK KEYNOTE GUIDE
Influence: The Ultimate Power Tool
Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.
Bestselling author and thought leader in the fields of influence and persuasion
Searching for the HERO Inside: The Role of Psychological Capital on Mental Well-Being
Frank Magwegwe, Ph.D.
Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria
QUICK POWERFUL PANEL GUIDE
Dean's Panel
Francesca Cornelli
Dean, Donald P. Jacobs Chair of Finance, and Professor of Finance, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Sharon Hodgson
Dean, Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario
Christina Soh
Dean and Goh Tjoei Kok Professor in Business, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University
Be the EMBA Pipeline of Corporate Diversity
Lori Costew
Chief Diversity Officer and People Strategy, Ford Motor Company
Ramona Hood
President and CEO of Fedex Custom Critical®
Barbara Singer
CEO, Executive Core
EMBASSADORS: Alumni As a Positive Force in Society
Siyad Abdullahi
President and CEO, Pro-Health Care, The Language Banc, Midwest Careers, and PT Works, LLC
Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim
Chief Equity Officer and Executive Director, One Atlanta: Mayors Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, City of Atlanta®
Fabiana Bentes
CEO, Sou do Esporte.org
Tim Gocher
Founder and CEO, Dolma Fund Management
QUICK STATE-OF-THE-INDUSTRY GUIDE
What’s the Data Say: Looking Back While Looking Forward
Elmer Almachar
Senior Director, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Discover Tomorrow: What Learners Want, What Employers Want, and What It All Means for Business Schools
Andrew Crisp
Co-Founder, CarringtonCrisp
Keynote sessions

Join the highly popular keynote speaker Robert Cialdini, who is often referred to as the Godfather of Influence, for this engaging and enlightening session. And – a special bonus thanks to EMBAC corporate member Amazon Kindle Education – if you are one of the first 400 conference participants to register and pay, you also will receive a free electronic version of Cialdini’s new and expanded book Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion.

Influence: The Ultimate Power Tool

Robert Cialdini
Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.
Bestselling author and thought leader in the fields of influence and persuasion

What can we do to shorten the time required to develop and deepen relationships with others? How can we effectively establish our authority and trustworthiness with those we meet for the first time? When others are sitting “on the fence,” which principles of persuasion are most likely to spur them to act?

In this keynote, Robert Cialdini, PhD, answers all these questions and more by weaving compelling stories with evidence-based statistics. Here, Cialdini identifies and explains the seven universal principles of persuasion that move others toward “yes.” When used correctly and ethically, these scientifically tested principles produce lasting relationships and strong, long-term change.

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After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the universal Principles of Persuasion that have been both scientifically tested and validated in practice
  • Recognize how the principles incorporate the most effective individual persuasion tactics
  • Employ the principles ethically in ways that are best for business results
  • Understand the conditions under which each principle becomes most powerful
  • Register how to use the principles to improve professional (and personal) outcomes immediately
  • Avoid the mistakes that can sabotage influence attempts

The author of Influence and Pre-Suasion, Cialdini is the thought leader in the fields of influence and persuasion and a three-time New York Times bestselling author with more seven million books sold in 44 languages.

Cialdini received his PhD from University of North Carolina and postdoctoral training from Columbia University. He holds honorary doctoral degrees (Doctor Honoris Causa) from Georgetown University, University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Wroclaw, Poland, and University of Basil in Switzerland. He has held Visiting Scholar appointments at Ohio State University, the University of California, the Annenberg School of Communications, and the Graduate School of Business of Stanford University.

In acknowledgement of his outstanding research achievements and contributions in behavioral science, Cialdini was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2018 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2019. His work and books have been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Inc., and Psychology Today Magazine, and on the PBS Newshour, Bloomberg, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CBS, and many more outlets and shows.

Visit here for more on Cialdini and his life’s work.

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Searching for the HERO Inside: The Role of Psychological Capital on Mental Well-Being

Frank Magwegwe, Ph.D.
Frank Magwegwe, Ph.D.
Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria

The turbulent COVID-19 pandemic environment has taken its toll on individuals’ mental well-being. Research on mental well-being throughout the globe suggests high rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and general psychological distress driven by job losses, financial worries, workplace stress, disruptions to work and education, loneliness, loss of loved ones, and fear of COVID-19 infection.

Yet, some seem to be handling the challenges brought on by the pandemic better than others. Why? This session explains by presenting a view that psychological capital - hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism, or the HERO inside – offers a set of psychological resources that can promote mental well-being.

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In 1992, Magwegwe was homeless, broke, unemployed, and separated from his family. In 1993, through selling fruit and vegetables in downtown Johannesburg, he beat the odds and escaped homelessness.

He has traveled an incredible journey from being homeless to becoming an entrepreneur, research scientist, and academic. Magwegwe writes and teaches about overcoming adversity through the HERO within us – Hope, Efficacy, Resilience, and Optimism. He received his Ph.D. in personal financial planning from Kansas State University.

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Powerhouse panels

In this keynote session, three engaging business school deans will help paint the big picture of business school challenges and opportunities as the world reshapes itself in the COVID and post-COVID eras. Here’s the line-up:

Dean's Panel

Francesca Cornelli
Francesca Cornelli
Dean, Donald P. Jacobs Chair of Finance, and Professor of Finance, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

A professor of finance and deputy dean at London Business School, Francesca Cornelli directed and advanced the highly regarded Private Equity Institute of London Business School, building a bridge between academia and practice by partnering with private equity leaders in London, alumni, and top academics in the field.

Her research interests include corporate governance, private equity, privatization, bankruptcy, IPOs, and innovation policy. Widely respected as an accomplished scholar business education leader, Cornelli has published several papers in the major finance and economics journals and gives regular talks at major conferences and universities. She has been an editor of the Review of Financial Studies and served on the board of editors of the Review of Economic Studies and as an associate editor at the Journal of Finance. She is a research fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and was a director of the American Finance Association.

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Cornelli also has served as an independent board member of several global corporations, including financial institutions. In January 2016 she helped create and became a board member of AFFECT, a committee of the American Finance Association designed to promote the advancement of women academics in the field of finance.

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Sharon Hodgson
Sharon Hodgson
Dean, Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario

Sharon Hodgson joined Ivey Business School in 2019 with extensive roots in industry and current service as a board member for two public companies, IGM Financial Inc. and Toromont Industries.

Before coming to Ivey, Hodgson filled senior leadership roles with some of the world’s largest professional services firms, including IBM, PwC, and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).  Combined, she has more than 30 years of experience in driving large-scale change programs across industries and geographies.

Within IBM, she led the Artificial Intelligence, Watson,™ and Advanced Analytics Consulting Business globally. Hodgson also was general manager of the Consulting Business for BRICS and 135 surrounding countries, out of Shanghai, and general manager for the Canadian Consulting Business, out of Toronto.

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During her career, she has served as lead partner for several of the largest global enterprise-level business transformations, including Nestlé, Merck, Mead Johnson, and FMC Corporation. Throughout her career, she has been known for maximizing the potential of her leaders and teams, and maximizing the value delivered to clients throughout the world.

Hodgson received her MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and her bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Manitoba.

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Christina Soh
Christina Soh
Dean and Goh Tjoei Kok Professor in Business, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Whether investigating management of large-scale transformation projects, including digital transformation, integrated healthcare, IT and strategic capabilities, or enterprise systems, Christina Soh has built her research on longitudinal fieldwork with major private and public sector organizations.

She has received numerous awards, including several for her paper on digital alignment from AIS Senior Scholars and the Journal of Strategic Information Systems, the international Case Centre Award for the most used information systems case in the most universities in 2017, and the Stafford Beer Award for her earlier work on identifying and addressing misalignments in enterprise systems from the European Journal of Information Systems and Knowledge Management Research and Practice. She also has served as senior editor at the Journal of Strategic Information Systems and MIS Quarterly Executive.

A fellow of the Association of Information Systems, she has been awarded the Nanyang Service Award, and the National Day Award Public Administration Medal (Silver). Her past positions include head of the division of IT and Operations Management, director of the Information Management Research Center, and associate dean at the Nanyang Business School. At the university level, she also was the associate provost for faculty affairs. At the international level, she has served as co-chair or faculty mentor at many doctoral consortiums and faculty development workshops for the International Conferences of Information Systems (ICIS), OCIS Division of the Academy of Management, and Pacific Conference of Information Systems. She was program co-chair for ICIS in 2017.

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Her teaching interests are cross-disciplinary. She was involved in the design of NTU’s double degree in business and computing, the Renaissance Engineering Program, and the business school’s new specialization in business analytics. She has taught strategic technology innovation management to students in the REP and MBA programs. More recently, she has played a primary role in the continuing development and delivery of faculty leadership development programs in NTU.

Soh received her bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the National University of Singapore, and her PhD in management from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Be the EMBA Pipeline of Corporate Diversity

Gain insights from a panel of C-suite leaders to help you discover how your program can help bring more diverse leadership to the top of organizations.

Hear and share best practices in developing leaders who can run organizations and match the faces and hearts of the people they serve. Explore the actions that business schools are taking and could take to help generate a more diverse pipeline of organizational leaders. And, more importantly, examine the unique role that EMBA Programs can play in that effort. This keynote session features the following participants.

Lori Costew
Lori Costew
Chief Diversity Officer and People Strategy, Ford Motor Company

As an accomplished author, speaker, and innovative thought leader in human resources, Lori Costew focuses on delivering a global transformational people strategy aligned with ever-evolving business priorities. A results-oriented executive, she specializes in diversity and inclusion; relationship building; executive coaching; mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures; talent development; organizational design; change management; negotiations; problem solving; compliance; influence; and leadership of teams.

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Before her current role as Chief Diversity Officer, Costew served in a variety of positions at Ford, including global human resources lead for Autonomous Vehicles, Ford Smart Mobility, and Global Data and Analytics and global human resources lead for the Lincoln Motor Company, Ford Chief Brand Officer, and Ford Global Marketing.

Costew believes that ‘people come where they are invited, and they stay where they are included,’ and that an inclusive and diverse environment is an absolute business imperative for any company to be relevant and win in the market.

She received her bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and her master’s degree in labor and human resources from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.

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Ramona Hood
Ramona Hood
President and CEO of Fedex Custom Critical®

As President and CEO of Fedex Custom Critical®, Ramona Hood oversees the FedEx Custom Critical executive leadership team and is responsible for the company’s performance and strategic direction.

Hood brings more than 28 years of FedEx experience to her role, including serving as vice president, operations, strategy, and planning. Hood started her career at FedEx Custom Critical in 1991 and rose to various leadership executive positions at FedEx Custom Critical and FedEx Supply Chain. Her career path evolved through many areas of the company, including operations, safety, sourcing, sales, and marketing.

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Throughout her career, Hood has been recognized for her exemplary excellence in leadership, responsibility, and passion-driven results in the industry. She received the “30 for the Future” award from the Greater Akron Chamber, the Distinguished Sales & Marketing Award from Sales & Marketing Executives International, and the Woman of Inspiration Award from Walsh University, as well as a Women of Note Award from Crain’s Cleveland; Smart Women, Honoree of the Progress Woman Award, and Woman of Influence from the Women in Trucking Association; and International Thought Leader of Distinction award from the MEECO Leadership Institute. In 2010 and 2016, Hood received the FedEx Five Star Award, the highest recognition for FedEx employees. Most recently, Hood was recognized on the Crain’s Cleveland 2020 Power 150 list.

Hood received her bachelor’s degree in business management from Walsh University and her Executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management.

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Barbara Singer
Barbara Singer
CEO, Executive Core

As the founder, president, and CEO of Executive Core, Barbara Singer leads a group of more than 150 global professionals whose mission is to more quickly innovate professional development globally for corporations and business schools alike.

In the last 15 years, Singer has worked with thousands of high-potential leaders throughout the globe at critical turning points in their careers. She has dedicated her career to developing leaders who remain focused on business priorities, anticipate the future, and remove obstacles. She is passionate about future trends in learning and has been researching predictors of executive success for nearly two decades.

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Singer has conducted research on global influence, and executive coaching for nearly two decades, and has worked with three of the five largest international executive search firms responsible for placing a large majority of C-suite executives. She and her team also collaborate with the international Executive MBA Council and many business schools throughout the world to help better prepare leaders for senior roles. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business.

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EMBASSADORS: Alumni As a Positive Force in Society

Those in the EMBA industry hear from students and alumni all the time about the ways their experience in EMBA Programs changes – transforms – them. Thanks to student and alumni surveys, they also know several quantitative impacts, such as compensation gains, promotions, and increased responsibilities.

But what does the EMBA experience ultimately mean to the greater good of society? How do the actions of leaders who undertake the EMBA journey spur new initiatives, innovations, and impact? And what role does EMBA play in helping them reach the big goals that lead to big improvements in so many aspects of life, from health care to education to the environment to infrastructure, among others?

Earlier this year, EMBAC launched a new initiative – EMBASSADORS – to increase awareness about the positive contributions of EMBA alumni. In this panel, four EMBASSADORS help tell the tale of how EMBA spurs and supports advances that benefit many, and, in doing so, pull the curtain open to see what about EMBA made the difference for them.

Siyad Abdullahi
Siyad Abdullahi
President and CEO, Pro-Health Care, The Language Banc, Midwest Careers, and PT Works, LLC

Siyad Abdullahi founded and leads companies that employ more than 350 employees and more than 1,000 independent contractors in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

Throughout his life, Abdullahi has filled many roles: entrepreneur; public health expert with a background in family medicine, international health, and refugee and immigrant health; public health consultant; cross cultural competencies trainer, strategic planning and corporate strategy coach; and public speaker.

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He received his medical degree in Kenya and immigrated to the U.S. in 1999. In 2002, he moved to the Twin Cities and began working with refugees in community clinics. Alarmed at their inability to communicate their health needs, he started his first business: Midwest Career Institute, a company that trains bilingual and bicultural health care employees to alleviate cultural and linguistic roadblocks to proper treatment.

He also founded and serves as president and CEO of Language Banc, a Minneapolis-based language translation, interpreting, and training agency and of PT Works, which provides culturally competent and culturally sensitive physical therapy and rehabilitation services, as well as founder, vice president, and director of medical affairs for Pro-Health Care, Inc., an in-home care provider.

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Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim
Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim
Chief Equity Officer and Executive Director, One Atlanta: Mayors Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, City of Atlanta

A thought leader and status quo disruptor,Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim transformed her life through education and uplifted her community by developing community-based programs for nearly two decades. Now she’s using what she learned to advance racial equity strategies and expand access to opportunities, so all communities thrive.  

As the chief equity officer for the city of Atlanta, she and her team ensure equitable, open, and inclusive practices across all city departments, and operationalize the One Atlanta vision by acting as stewards, innovators, and partners who generate creative, forward-thinking policies and programs that disrupt and evolve how the city governs. Under her leadership, the office supports populations and issues at the forefront of equity today and tomorrow and works to solve big issues like housing affordability, health care, transportation, education, sustainability, and criminal justice reform. 

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Abdur-Rahim believes building bridges across different groups creates a framework for understanding shared humanity. Passionate about mentoring resilient youth, she strives to model an example of what their futures can hold.

A first-generation college graduate, Abdur-Rahim received her undergraduate degree from University of California, Berkeley, her master’s degree from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She is also a former U.S. Air Force Reservist, athlete, and award-winning activist who has been named one of America’s Leaders of Change by the National Urban Fellows Program.

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Fabiana Bentes
Fabiana Bentes
CEO, Sou do Esporte.org

Fabiana Bentes currently leads the organization Sou do Esporte, a Brazilian-based non-profit association that promotes a network of relationships between athletes, sports entities, public authorities, and the private sector.

Sou Do Esporte values governance and transparency in the management of public resources for sports, as well as sports development. It aims to make the development of sport popular and encourages good practices and governance in Brazilian sport. Its mission focuses on transforming Brazil into a sporting nation.

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Bentes’ background includes experience as a journalist and in government. She was state secretary of social development and human rights, as well as public security counselor, for the state of Rio de Janeiro, and she coordinated government planning for the mayoral candidate Paulo Messina. In addition, she served as consultant and director of the Interamerican Bank of Development, and vice president of the Public Safety Counsel and vice president of the Sports Counsel for the Commercial Association of Rio de Janeiro.

In 2021, she was elected tourism ambassador of Rio de Janeiro. She completed post-graduate work in international relations at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and received her MBA as a graduate of the Fundação Dom Cabral Executive MBA.

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Tim Gocher
Tim Gocher
Founder and CEO, Dolma Fund Management

Tim Gocher founded and serves as CEO of Dolma Impact Fund - the first international private equity fund for Nepal. As an impact fund, it targets positive financial returns alongside social and environmental outcomes. Dolma's investments span multiple sectors including renewable energy, health care, technology, and agriculture. Since 2014, its portfolio companies have generated more than 5,000 quality, sustainable jobs in one of Asia's poorest countries.

Gocher also works with the U.K. government's Department for International Development in developing the Dolma Himalayan Climate Fund, a Himalayan-wide renewable energy initiative to bring clean energy to underserved areas while reducing the need for diesel and firewood – a key factor in the Himalayan glacial melt crisis.

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He chairs the Dolma Foundation, a British non-profit organization that he founded in 2003. The foundation provides full scholarships for the poorest children in Nepal, small-scale impact investment, and post-earthquake rebuilding.

Before Dolma, Gocher worked at Deloitte Corporate Finance in London, J.P. Morgan in New York, and energy giant E.On. An entrepreneur, he has started and sold two successful technology businesses.

An Hon. Professor of Sustainable Business at The University of Nottingham, Gocher focuses his areas of interest on impact investment, corruption, IP commercialization, and technology clusters. He also contributes as a guest lecturer at London Business School where he received his MBA.

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State-of-the-industry sessions

EMBAC shines the spotlight on the state-of-the-industry in these sessions, looking closely at what the current uncertain and rapidly changing environment might mean for the EMBA industry.

What’s the Data Say: Looking Back While Looking Forward

Elmer Almachar
Elmer Almachar
Senior Director, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

As EMBAC celebrates its 40th anniversary and as EMBA Programs move faster-than-ever, now is a great time to reflect on what lessons from the past can teach us in preparing for the future.

What hints can historical data about EMBAC member programs give us about the next evolution of EMBA Programs? What does current data reveal about emerging trends, or the acceleration of recent or even long-standing trends? And what does all that mean for EMBA Programs?

This state-of-the-industry keynote offers some data-driven perspectives on those questions.

Elmer Almachar, senior director at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, will analyze data from past years of EMBAC research, as well as recent results, and share insights on what light the data can shed and what the implications are for EMBA Programs. With the pandemic uprooting so much, this session will help members better orient themselves in a world of immense change.

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Almachar began his career by joining the world-renowned consulting firm of McKinsey & Company. Initially hired as a graphics specialist, he coordinated schedules for graphic designers and mentored team members. He gained additional responsibilities and eventually led McKinsey’s U.S. Design Center team.

Academics has always been important to Almachar. He completed his bachelor’s degree with a focus on government and religion and then received his master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. While at McKinsey, he returned to school again for his MBA from Kellogg. The experience proved more than valuable: In 2011, he joined Kellogg as director of its Executive MBA Program.

A former EMBAC board member and long-standing contributor to EMBAC research initiatives, Almachar received the 2020 Bud Fackler Award from EMBAC in recognition of his contributions to the industry and EMBAC.

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Discover Tomorrow: What Learners Want, What Employers Want, and What It All Means for Business Schools

Andrew Crisp
Andrew Crisp
Co-Founder, CarringtonCrisp

Learn more about what the market – learners and employers – want from their educational experiences.

In this state-of-the-industry keynote, Andrew Crisp of CarringtonCrisp will share the findings from a new study, The Future of Lifelong and Executive Education.  Conducted with LinkedIn, the research draws from the surveys of 2,500 learners and 500 employers worldwide. Based on the findings, Crisp will examine how business schools can best position themselves and their offerings to meet the needs of tomorrow's learners.

Crisp founded CarringtonCrisp with Mary Lou Carrington in 2003. Since then, the business has provided consulting, creative, and research services to more than 180 business schools and universities in 35 countries.

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CarringtonCrisp is particularly known for its research projects for business schools, which include The Business of Branding, GenerationWeb, Tomorrow’s MBA, Tomorrow’s Masters, Executive Education Futures, and Alumni Matters with findings featured in media such as the Financial TimesThe EconomistThe Globe & Mail, and Poets&Quants.

CarringtonCrisp also conducts a range of bespoke research, strategy, program, and communication projects with clients throughout the world, including Columbia Business School, INSEAD, Saïd Business School Oxford, Cambridge Judge Business School, CEIBS, Miami Herbert Business School, Rotterdam School of Management, UNSW Business School, LinkedIn, and King’s College, London. 

Crisp has presented for many organizations, such as EMBAC, AACSB, EFMD, GMAC, the Chartered Association of Business Schools, the Association of Asia-Pacific Business Schools (AAPBS), and many others.

His career includes work at a branding agency, as the employment correspondent for The European newspaper, and as the marketing director for an internet business. In addition, his experience in corporate communications involved projects to develop advertising campaigns for Andersen Consulting and Citibank, produce newsletters for Johnson & Johnson, and help rebrand London Business School. 

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