Chase profit or risk being as ‘dead as disco’, university managers told

A Danish businessman has told a conference of European educators that university managers who resist the profit motive are sticking with a strategy that is “as dead as disco”.

September 14, 2011

Speaking at the opening plenary of the European Association for International Education’s annual conference in Copenhagen, Christian Stadil, chief executive of sports fashion brand Humel, urged academics to learn lessons from business when addressing university reform.

“Making money is fantastic – that is what we do in business”, he told delegates at the conference today.

“If you do not make money, you will have scared employees, afraid they will be laid off.

“That is the biggest killer of innovation. Management by fear is as dead as disco.”

Mr Stadil, who describes his “company karma” management ethic as “corporate social responsibility on acid and steroids”, referenced Buddha, Catherine de Medici, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Jack Kerouac in a wide-ranging opening address.

He advised higher education managers that “thinking outside the box is wrong – we need to think on the edge of the box. Seek out those edges and that is where you will find inspiration.”

He cited his sponsorship of the Afghan national football team, collaboration with the pop group Black Eyed Peas and aid work with Africa as unconventional approaches to corporate branding, saying universities could also approach problems differently.

More than 4,000 delegates are attending the EAIE conference, which will run until 16 September.

Princess Marie of Denmark officially opened the conference with a speech extolling the benefits of international student exchange programmes.

“As long as Denmark has existed, its citizens have looked to the horizons, rather than staying within the country’s borders.”

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