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Danica Purg is the founder and dean of IEDC Bled School of Management in Slovenia. She is also the chair of the 2013 steering committee of The Principles for Responsible Management Education, an initiative started by the UN Global Compact which now unites almost 500 business schools from 80 countries, and the founder of Ceeman, a management development association designed to bring schools in the region together.
Prof Purg has a PhD from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences and has studied at Harvard Business School, Insead and IMD. After a short career in politics, she moved into academia and set up IEDC in 1986.
In her spare time, Prof Purg enjoys theatre, music and collecting paintings and art objects from the turn of the century. She has introduced the topic of art and leadership at IEDC, using art as a tool for reflection to make leaders better observers and listeners.
1. What is an average day at work like?
Every day is a special one. I start early, between 6am and 7am – my first name is Danica, which means “morning star”. When I am in Slovenia, I go to IEDC after I finish work at home, have a talk with my staff and start to meet people. I enjoy a short but excellent lunch in the school. I visit the class that is having lectures. Often, I have a dinner appointment with a member of faculty or a business person. In the evening, I try to watch the news on television; if I have time I watch a nice film. If my husband is in Slovenia, we spend time together; otherwise we have a long conversation on the phone before I go to sleep.
2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
I was selected the 2010 Educator of the Year by the Academy of International Business for outstanding achievements in international business education. As the third European awarded, I joined an elite list of deans who have received the award in the past 19 years.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Never act without considering the consequences.
4. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Listen first, talk later.
5. What inspires you?
I am inspired by art. Bringing the arts and business together has long been a passion of mine. I feel art is essential to having rich experiences, a life full of meaning. I have always wanted to impart this to those with whom I work: our students, staff and faculty. The integration of art and art experience in education has been a focus of our school from its beginnings, but especially for the past 10 years. The inspiration for this approach to leadership development is a deep-rooted belief that art helps us. As the celebrated professor Edgar Schein said: “Art is helping us to see more, hear more, and to feel more.”
6. What is the last book you read?
The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management.
7. What is your favourite business book?
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
8. What advice would you give to women in business?
Don’t lose your identity, use your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
9. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
Everything, for everything can be done better.
10. What is your plan B?
Honestly speaking, I don’t have a plan B. Other people keep suggesting a plan B to me; like putting me forward as a candidate for high political positions. However, I think regularly about what I am going to do after I stop being dean and president of IEDC. I shall probably write, consult other business schools and work with charities.