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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Do Purpose and Profits Ride in Tandem?

June 20, 2019. Shanghai – CEIBS today welcomed Mr. Bruno Roche, Chief Economist & Managing Director of Mars Catalyst, to our Shanghai Campus to give a lecture and panel discussion on the topic of Why Does Purpose as a Strategy Make a Difference? CEIBS Professor of Marketing Lydia Price opened the session by introducing the keynote speaker along with panellists, Mr. Timo Lei, Partner, Vice-COO and Markets Leader at King and Wood Mallesons, and Mr. Wu Chen, Managing Director of the Economist Global Business Review.

As Mr. Bruno Roche pointed out in his talk, “purpose” has become a very popular word. He also said he believes that purpose, as a strategy, actually affects organisations by helping people turn strategy into practice. Furthermore, Mr. Roche explained, organisations should be driven by their purpose and go beyond self-interest. Quoting Milton Friedman, he  said, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits [for shareholders].”

Mr. Roche also stressed the importance of finance, which he said is a significant driving force for enterprise innovation, adding that finance departments should take the lead in a given company to expand the definition of “profit”.

Following Mr. Roche’s speech, the panel discussion focused on how Mars has managed to generate profits even in a very competitive market, and why younger generations need to understand new concepts like “the Economics of Mutuality” and learn to put them in practice. The panellists also responded to several questions from the audience and engaged in discussions on a number of topics, including how to balance profit and social responsibility, how investors view Economics of Mutuality, and whether or not business media can help accelerate companies’ innovation and transformation.

Around 100 CEIBS alumni, students, and members of the Shanghai business community and media representatives attended the event, which wrapped up with Prof. Price presenting commemorative CEIBS souvenirs to Mr. Roche and the panellists.

Tracy Kong
Michael D. Thede