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Values, resilience and the willingness to change

Expert talk at Bavarian International School (BIS) in Munich-Schwabing on the leadership skills of the future

For the fifth time, the non-profit Bavarian International School (BIS) hosted the BIS City Talk at the Schwabing Campus on Leopoldstrasse. "Next generation leadership" was this year's topic discussed by experts from the BMW Group, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and BIS, moderated by Nina Eichinger. The panelists agreed: Tomorrow's leaders must above all be masters of change and resilience, coupled with a stable value system and a willingness for lifelong learning.

Digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing working worlds. Globalization, geopolitics and climate change are other dramatic factors that are changing everyone's lives. What does this mean for the future skills of our children? And what will the leadership of the next generation look like?

Claudia Nerger, Head of Talent Management, Leadership Development, Future Talent Programs at the BMW Group, emphasized in her keynote speech that change is a constant. Those who accept this can also correct their course and recalibrate their actions on the basis of new insights. This requires a "growth mindset" (mentality of continuously growing, learning and developing). 

"Resilience is very important in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, i.e. the ability to deal with change and setbacks and to shape life positively. These skills are not available at the push of a button, but require special attention and need to be considered throughout the education system," said Ms. Nerger. So-called "meta-skills" play an important role, for example digital skills, intercultural mindset, dealing with diversity and ‘the four big C's’ of communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

BMW is currently undergoing the biggest transformation process in the company's 100-year history - this year's "Digital Boost" program alone is aimed at 85,000 participants. Instead of "feedback," BMW also uses the term "feedforward. It’s a small play on words, with a big effect.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus, TUM Vice President and Founding Director of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning, emphasized the importance of a stable value system for leaders, as a compass in rapidly changing times. "Leaders do not have to be perfect, however, they should be consistent and predictable, communicate clearly, listen actively and embody their own values. This authenticity leads to leaders being predictable, which in turn builds trust and psychological safety." Not only for leaders, but for all people, lifelong learning is one of the basic principles of the modern world. "In the past, you got a skillset at school and university that lasted you the next 30 years. Those days are over!"

For the first time in the history of BIS City Talk, a student joined us on stage. 17-year-old Dutchman Daniel Peters shared his experiences from everyday life at the international school, where critical thinking, collaboration and a feedback culture are among the key pillars of learning. In his estimation, adaptability is an important skill for leaders of the future. “It sounds simple at its bare bones, to be able to simply adapt to environments. But, the rate that certain areas of living can be modernised with ease is daunting. Just look at AI! Therefore, I believe that it is our job as humans to keep an open mind and remain diligent and sharp when facing such hurdles in the future,” said the 11th grader.

According to BIS School Director Dr. Chrissie Sorenson, the Bavarian International School’s value system is expressed in three words that are far more than just a slogan: "Believe. Inspire. Succeed." On the road to success, mistakes should and are allowed to happen, because it is only through the principle of "failing forward" that people continue to develop and innovations emerge. "This approach is an integral part of our educational philosophy from kindergarten through secondary school. It also creates resilience and perseverance, a mentality of never giving up and always believing in yourself. Ultimately, this develops the very global citizens and changemakers that our world needs," says Dr. Chrissie Sorenson.

BIS City Talk is a public forum for knowledge at the intersection of education, science, business and politics. In this way, BIS underscores its role as a committed partner to the Munich region and as a driving force for modern education.

The previous topics of the BIS City Talk:

2017     Future learning

2018     Design thinking

2019     Positive education

2022     Educating for tomorrow: values + life skills = changemakers

2023     Next generation leadership