On December 16, 2011, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the iEMFC. More than 20 Alumni were able to join the festivities and were actively participating in the debate that followed a guest lecture by Constance Lütolf-Carroll on “From Innovation to Cash Flows”.
Constance (ESADE, Barcelona – Spain & BUCCONI, Milano -Italy) introduced the topic and moderated the discussion together with a broad panel of iEMFC Alumni. Belle Spaan (cohort 2007), Hans van Geloven (cohort 2006), John de Wit (cohort 1999), Wolfgang Schickbauer (cohort 1999) and Peter Peddemors (cohort 1998) enriched the discussion on innovation and all highlighted the point that successful innovation can only occur… when someone writes a check. Of course, innovation is customer driven, of course it thrives in a spirit of entrepreneurship and of course, it is often driven by technology, but the importance of “management systems” as accelerators to innovation cannot be stressed enough, they all agreed.
“The macroeconomic importance of innovation for the survival of our Western economies is clear, but our businesses have to make it happen, together with our Governments and our institutions for research and education”, Constance stated. “Given the fact innovation is the result of an exceptionally successful marriage of science & technology, business acumen and the necessary financial resources, the role of the controller is paramount and … multidisciplinary!”, she continued.
“Controllers are crucial, especially for Venture Capital,” claimed Hans van Geloven, “ VC wants controllers first, then – later – CFO’s”.
The session developed into a real knowledge and experience sharing event that only stimulates us in continuing to improve, innovate and broaden our own iEMFC program. Just a few more quotes from this interesting meeting-of-minds …
Wolfgang Schickbauer: “Management systems! Start-ups are often naïve and forget about Management Control Systems. They focus on becoming global, product and customer focused and often forget about being business model focused!”
John Krol: “Having witnessed the end of a Joint Venture or even a real bankruptcy is important to controllers and finance people. I would even go that far as saying it looks well on your CV.”
Hans van Geloven: “ In Shell we have may start-ups. If we allow them to die, we always have a post-mortem. And sometimes, yes MCS stifle entrepreneurship. But then it is about having implemented the wrong controls. We killed solar start-ups and found out a misfit of the MCS. Fit-for-purpose is crucial!”
Eric Driebeek: “Data gathering, IT, all have major impact on your business and revenue model. This is increasingly what controllers have to understand, do and get organised. Focus on the value drivers, drive the value model! Information Management will be crucial not only to succeed but to survive first!”
After the academic session, the festivities continued with the Graduation Ceremony 2011, where 18 new graduates received their certificate and RC title. Unfortunately, not everyone could come to Maastricht University.
(ING) also went away with the “Student of the Year 2011” award.