Message from the Co-Directors

Don’t miss the big picture: the business world is still wide open!

If you have an appetite for true leadership, you need to be ready to challenge established dogmas and ideas. Strategic innovation is still the way to create value.

No matter how often you are bombarded with fake news, on the market, data and informed insight is how money is made. Senseless stories and emotional narratives may win elections or referenda, but in the real life of market competition, rigorous business models prevail over gut feeling.

In today’s politics, diversity, equality and respect may often be called “political correctness,” but if you want to attract top creative talent, especially from the Millennial and post-Millennial generations, you better be able to make your organization flatter, fairer and more open to learning and diversity!

We are living in the time of a great paradox. Governments around the world are becoming more closed-minded and inward-oriented, while businesses are facing ever greater pressure to open up to new network strategies, more demanding creative talent and faster ways of adapting.

Too many politicians insist that we return to bygone eras of supposed past greatness, but any executive knows that the global market is only moving forward towards new challenges and opportunities.

This paradox will not go away. Navigating the ever more complex web of technological, organizational, generational and political tensions and contradictions will define what business leadership is in the 21st century.

CEU Executive MBA is the program designed to make you just that kind of business leader. But as you embark on the path of this profound adjustment to the new rules of the competitive game, we will not be merely your teachers; we will be your companions. After all, our university is undergoing its own process of fundamental transformation.

In 2019, we moved our main operations to Vienna – the world’s most livable city according to the Economist Intelligence Unit and a true melting pot of cultures – because of the regulatory hurdles introduced by the increasingly illiberal government of Hungary. This process – the largest (partial) relocation of a major European university in 70 years – posed enormous managerial challenges, but also opened up new opportunities, including the ability to revamp our Executive MBA into an even more global, multi-campus and modular program.

The job of a senior manager is not only about adapting to the world or to external conditions. It is also about creating a world – creating certain reality for your customers, your team members and your other stakeholders.

When we say the “EMBA for the Open World,” we are chiefly thinking about the world that you can open and positively impact.

Embracing this creative power of senior management is essential for your transition from operational and functional expertise to strategic leadership – the transition that requires learning not only new skills, but most importantly, new ways of thinking and unlearning some unhelpful habits of the past.

Are you open for such change?


Prof. Yusaf Akbar & Prof. Maciej Kisilowski

Faculty Co-Directors, CEU Executive MBA