“The business world is going through a profound transformation. A transformation that, if not dealt with in the right way, could be life-threatening for some companies.”

These are the words of new IMD Supervisory Board Chairman Michel Demaré, during an interview at IMD’s campus in Lausanne.

“Digitalization, the power of data, sustainability, social impact … It’s going to be extremely important for companies to understand what they need in terms of skills and organization design,” Demaré said. “IMD can play a key role in helping them to go through this process, because we have the proximity to our customers, the thought leadership, we can help with creative solutions, to analyze the gaps and the diagnostic of what needs to change.”

Demaré, who is about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of a career that has seen him work in four countries and in nine different industries, has been involved with IMD in various ways for 15 years. His career highlights include Chief Financial Officer of ABB, Vice-Chairman of the Board of UBS and Chairman of Syngenta.

Demaré said he is assuming the role of IMD Supervisory Board Chairman at an important moment for the world leader in executive education, and for wider society. “Purpose-led companies” will be the leaders of the future, he said. “Not just in terms of profitability, but in terms of corporate relevance, and companies which don’t understand this may not be around in a decade or two.” IMD can be the partner of trust that helps them cross this bridge, he added.

Asked about his approach to leading and developing teams, Demaré said the key to a good executive team is one that thinks: “company first, individuals second”. “You need executives that are best at exercising the responsibilities assigned to them but, at the same time, act as ‘co-CEOs’ so they work with their CEO and their peers to make the company as great as it can be.”

Individuals, on the other hand, should be “interested in people, people development, people education, and promotion of talent. You need real leaders, decisive people but managers who are also humble, show respect, and have a good balance between IQ and EQ. Finally, the key is that people have great values and impeccable integrity.”