by Karen Fitzpatrick · Chairman of DGDW 2015

One of the characteristics of IESE Business School is that it heavily uses the case method to teach students in the classroom.  While I’ve greatly enjoyed this method because it allows you to simulate decision-making, learn from your classmates, and get deeper into problems, it – like any other method –only goes so far.  In fact, some of the most memorable and interesting classes have been ones where we had the professionals from the cases attend in order to ask questions and really dig into the complexities of the issue at hand.

This is one of the many reasons I’m looking forward to Doing Good and Doing Well 2015.  It’s one thing to read about topics such as the concept of conscious capitalism, re-thinking what stakeholder value means, and implementing transformational changes to have a big impact on society or the environment.  It’s another thing to meet the individuals behind the decisions and initiatives.

DGDW was created by a group of IESE students over a decade ago in order to foster this kind of discussion on campus.  Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to host hundreds of speakers from a variety of industries and functions who can speak to the impact of their businesses on society.  From sustainability to micro-finance to public-private partnerships, the conferences have introduced students to numerous ways to apply business skills in order to create positive change.

This year’s theme is “what is responsible business?”  In choosing it, our team wanted to invite for-profit firms to talk about how they view their roles in society – who their stakeholders are, how their roles might be changing, and what they’re doing to reinforce their visions.  We will have some organizations who will contend that what they do makes them responsible – e.g., it’s inherent in their products/services/missions.  We’ll have others who will assert that what makes them responsible is how they’ve been able to enhance their processes to “do good” or do less harm – e.g., sustainability, human capital practices, etc.  And still other speakers and organizations will present the view that their businesses are responsible because of who they market to or whose needs they fulfill – the Bottom of the Pyramid.

One thing is for sure: we can promise you that this year’s conference will be full of thought leaders provoking interesting discussions.  We hope you walk away feeling challenged, stimulated, and curious.