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It’s all in a name – first CEMS graduation outside of Europe hailed a success

30 Nov 2017

As the students file onto the stage to be presented with their degree, it’s the names that really seem to hit home. Pietro, Giovanna, Rishi and Tung are graduating, as are Franziska, Rama, Basil, Sandra, Miroslav, Thuy Ngoc and many others. The rhetoric stands up. CEMS is truly global. It is inclusive and these young people look like they could be leaders of the future. Here they are excited, some are screaming with delight, others are waving, to an audience of mums and dad - some Polish, some Chinese, some Canadian, some German, all very proud. They have waited for a long time and travelled vast distances for this moment in a glittering Sydney auditorium.

The Dean of the University of Sydney Business School and CEMS Deputy Chair, Professor Greg Whitwell, described the event as one of “profound historic importance”. “It’s a dream come true”, added CEMS Chair and Dean of Barcelona’s ESADE Business School, Professor Eugenia Bieto.

With the admission of the American University in Cairo, CEMS now a unique global alliance of 31 elite business schools accredited to deliver the organisation’s “globally integrated” Masters in International Management (MIM) program. The University of Sydney Business School is the only CEMS member in Australia and this year it hosted the first MIM graduation to be held outside of Europe in its 29 year history.

“It was a brave decision to hold the graduation outside of Europe where CEMS was founded,” said Professor Whitwell. “In years to come it will be regarded as a defining moment in the history of the University of Sydney Business School and for the CEMS Alliance.”

While not all were able to overcome “the tyranny of distance” to attend the Sydney ceremony, more than 1,200 students from over 60 countries graduated from the CEMS MIM in 2017. Each has studied in a country other than their own and each has a working knowledge of three languages. “From now on we expect you to be excellent professionals and we expect you to be better people,” Professor Bieto told the graduates in Sydney. “We expect you to be responsible leaders contributing to a more open, sustainable and inclusive world.”

“Success is knowing how to write your own story,” she told the graduates. “We have shown you how to write your own story now go and become entrepreneurs of your life.” And, the latest figures indicate that an overwhelming number of CEMS graduates do just that. Nearly 100 per cent of CEMS alumni are employed or are continuing their studies; nearly 50 per cent are living outside of their homeland and 75 per cent work for multinational companies.

The keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony held in Sydney’s new International Convention Centre was given by Deloitte Australia CEO, Cindy Hook, an executive who has undoubtedly written her own success story. “I am going to give you three pieces of advice”, Ms Hook told her young audience. The first, be “open minded” for globalisation, diversity and inclusion require an open mind. Be bold in order to be “future ready and to deal with the challenges facing the world”. And, finally, “be prepared to lead. Understand yourself and play to your strengths”.

Deloitte is one of more than 70 local, regional and multinational corporate partners “committed to ensuring that students can be globally mobile and able to take part in the business projects that are a defining characteristic of the CEMS program.

The program at the University of Sydney Business School, which enrols about 75 CEMS students each year, is supported by Hilti and Deloitte. Multinational technology consultancy ABB was the leading sponsor of the Sydney graduation. Corporate partners also took part in the CEMS Asia Pacific Forum designed to give CEMS students an opportunity to connect with corporate representatives and to learn about careers paths in the region.

The 2018 CEMS Graduation will take place on the Mediterranean island of Malta.

Closing his Sydney graduation address, Professor Whitwell expressed a desire to see “the distance between us all become ever shorter and to never be an obstacle to enduring friendship”.