HEC Alumni, Rodolphe Durand and Vineet Nayar make a strong case at the opening conference in the “Quest for Meaning” series.
February 6th saw the successful launch of the “Quest for Meaning ” conference series. . The event was co-organized by a coalition of nine Alumni clubs* – a record number, and testament to the topic’s broad appeal. HEC Alumni Executive Director Marguerite Gallant (H.03) gave opening remarks to a full house of 200 attendees, setting the stage for the association’s year-long focus on the question of “our wider mission in this world”. The conference was led by quest-for-purpose advocates Marie Regnault (H.88), and Hélène de Saint Front (H.09), who guide individuals and organizations in their “climb” towards purpose. The session opened with Rodolphe Durand (H.93, PhD.97), an HEC professor who holds the “Joly Family Chair in HEC Alumni, Rodolphe Durand and Vineet Nayar make a strong case at the opening conference in the “Quest for Meaning” series.Purposeful Leadership” and heads the HEC Society & Organizations (S&O) Center, which he founded in 2009. Durand talked about his inspiration for HEC’s “Purposeful leadership” track, a pioneering program that encourages students to explore their roles and responsibilities to society and business.
The evening ’s highlight was headliner Vineet Nayar, renowned Indian businessman and author of the international bestseller “Employees First, Customer Second”. Sitting on stage with Charles-Henri Besseyre des Horts (HEC professor emeritus), Nayar talked about his own life’s journey: from his early trials and triumphs, through a corporate career leading high-growth companies, to his current role helping to transform education in India. He captivated the audience with anecdotes and lessons learned about seeking justice, making bold decisions, and recognizing when you have “enough”.Nayar’s take on the trendy nature of today’s “quest-for-meaning ” movement: “People like to talk about it, but most people don’t understand.” As he sees it, purpose is ultimately about inspiring others, but it all starts with the individual; you must follow your own path to purpose, before seeking to move others to collectively make a difference. In this age of innovation, creating a culture around meaning involves pushing others “to think and to attempt the impossible, waking them up and getting them to do new things.”
Purpose in practice
Bringing these insights to life, Vineet Nayar cited compelling stories from his own experience. In a perfect “Employees First” example, he described how Human Resources at HCL Technologies were transformed by shifting from the status quo and creating a “real structure of change”. As the company’s CEO, he was held directly accountable to his 100,000 employees through open evaluations. He also shared inspiring details about his Sampark Foundation, which is transforming education in Indian schools. Thanks to innovative practices including a new mobile app and creative teacher-motivation methods, Sampark has “ignited classrooms” and improved learning by 30% for over 7 million children – at a cost of less than $1 per child.The evening ended with a cocktail reception. Stay tuned for details about the next session in this series!
Julie Porcella Rolland (H.94)
* HEC au Féminin / SpiritualitieS / Générations Start – Boost – Change – Share / Volunteering / Consulting & Coaching / HR & Management.