The result? A teaching position at a then small relatively unknown economics school in Portugal, NOVA. With a track record of transformation in a corporate life behind her, the experience led Catherine to actively contribute to students and the school’s transformation. Such change and transformation is not without its challenges. But within two years Catherine and the CEMS team at Nova SBE were then awarded the best CEMS School in their first and second year actively running. When we asked her about how this change happened where there were little resources Catherine shared with us the simple secret;
“The difference was co-creating with the students - together we built a plan and they went out to present CEMS to the Corporate Partners”
What becomes clear when we spoke to Catherine, now Associate Dean for International Affairs at NOVA SBE, is her passion, her strong sense of community purpose and her dedication to making a change. Her work, her inspirational leadership and her ability to form cooperative teams has led to prize winning success
From teaching it was a natural choice to take on further academic achievements and then complete her pHD in Co-Creation and Brand Identity both in the UK. And now since becoming academic director, welcoming 80 CEMS students from all over the world. Catherine is clear - tertiary education and CEMS is about training people to have an impactful international career. But it is also about shaping new leaders.
“Being a CEMS student is being able to show the way. And open the way for others to go afterwards. We want the students to take risks and open new doors for them and all the others that will come after them!”
Our young graduates will have an impact, globally and for NOVA and Catherine alike, this impact will be everywhere and anywhere they end up working
“…whatever the location, the country and context. Social, environmental, company, state, their own company or government.”
Part of showing a better way is to be open, develop a business empathy and acknowledge and accept that there are many ways to make a difference. Changing the world can take many forms and Catherine says to her students that the biggest changes can also be driven by big multinational companies. CEMS alumni working for Corporate Partners have the responsibility to turn the world better . they are actors of societal transformation. To effect real sustainable change is where CEMS comes in. The CEMS spirit is to be able to see the world from different perspectives and this skill is what change needs.
“CEMS is really about shaping the future. The values of CEMS are extremely connected with our school values. CEMS students are our best partners to transform the school for better. They push the school to move. If you teach at CEMS, you have something special, you give something more of yourself to the community.”
And one word that recurs when speaking with Catherine is Connection. Change is something that will always occur so to bring people along means to have connection. And what is that?
“Connection is co-creating with others - you don’t build for you and by you, you build WITH others” A shared CEMS ethos and why the alliance has been so successful over the years. It is to build with others and for others in mind.
Building a network of individuals, ensuring that the purpose is for communities, requires a leader. And today the meaning of leader has changed. Catherine finds that being a leader is more than managing. Being a leader is being able to listen and know how to make the best opportunities of the resources you have to reach your vision.
“As a leader - you have a vision, you have an idea, but your main task is to co-create with others that think differently.”
And now today our students and new cohorts will be the leaders of tomorrow. The work that is almost completed on the Graduate Profile project is about leveraging on change. How can we take CEMS leaders and our own community to the next level? Through, diversity in terms of countries, cultures, socioeconomic status, background, even studies.
Through the past 30 years, Catherine is well placed to comment upon CEMS. And after all these years with CEMS, she feels
“Because it is a great organisation with great values, it attracts great people and great teams. And that is a major strength. It is great to be in a CEMS meeting, committee, event and it is always great to learn from others. we have everything to be a transformation force of the future, to lead the way for better..”