Fitting strategy to long-term trends with the ILA Board Leadership Masterclass

Companies have faced a dazzling range of challenges in the 21st century, including financial and monetary crises, the rise of cybercrime and AI, a pandemic, geopolitical challenges, and the looming threat of climate change. The 21st Century Board Leadership Model Masterclass will help directors develop the understanding, outlooks and strategies they need to address known and unknown challenges.


“No plan survives first contact with the enemy” applies to business life as much as the military realm. Hence boards need to be prepared to act in an agile, innovative fashion in response to challenges. “This masterclass is about understanding the disruptions being caused by the climate, biodiversity crisis, health and social crises, geopolitical disruptions and more, and understanding the interconnections,” said Raymond Schadeck, an ILA Certified Director and ex ILA chair. “As well as the ‘why’ this course will give ideas of best practices of how business models could transition,” he added.

“This course features the creation of a strategy template, a unique element,” said Ravi Fernando, a senior chair, board member and CEO, and teacher with the INSEAD Aspiring Directors Programme. “The 21st Century Board Leadership Model Masterclass has a dynamic, up-to-the-moment curriculum, which is updated with input of every cohort.” This will be the third time the course is run in Luxembourg by ILA. 

The programme will be delivered in seven two-hour long webinars between 1st June and 13th July. These sessions will include a panel discussion with Luxembourg professionals and specialised experts, who will set out how each topic fits into the global and local business environment, and with a chance to ask detailed questions. The course will culminate in the development of a company specific 21st Century Board Leadership strategy template which will be reviewed personally by Raymond and Ravi. The seven topics to be covered in the programme are:

Introduction to the “21st Century Board Leadership model and strategy template”

The climate emergency board response strategy

The health and social emergency board response strategy

The economic emergency and the board response strategy

New technology challenges and opportunities 

Geopolitics – challenges and opportunities 

Governance & board strategy advisory committee

The sessions are animated by high-level, experienced experts, such as Prof Dr Hakan Lucius. As well as being the Head of Corporate Responsibility and the Civil Society Division at the European Investment Bank (a key EU economic development institution), Hakan is also a visiting professor at universities in Paris, Frankfurt and Luxembourg. He leads the climate emergency section of the Masterclass, setting out the formal challenges and then opening the floor “to go into deeper aspects, into detail; enabling people to ask those questions they don't want to really ask in public,” he said. For example, he has deep understanding of the EU’s climate action policies, including corporate sustainability reporting and the ESG investment taxonomy.


The course is open to ILA members but also non-members, and gradates include strategy setters and decision makers from the private and public sectors. “My main take away from this inspiring masterclass is the effective demonstration that if you as a board member seek to have a practical positive influence on the climate, people and planet, you increase the probability that your company will be prosperous, resilient and sustainable over the long term,” said Eric Magrini, an ILA Certified Independent non-Executive Director. 

“Inspirational” was also the word used to describe the programme by Mike Koedinger, the chair of the media company Maison Moderne. “The focus was on the current situation, supporting organisations as they seek to convert their words into actions, and underlining that doing good can also be good for business,” he said. In particular, he believes others will find it useful when starting or speeding up their net zero strategies.

The teaching style particularly impressed Sandra Denis an Attachée de Gouvernement at the Ministry of Finance. “With one hour of academic teaching followed by panel discussions, this gave us the opportunity to listen to experts and exchange with them,” she said. She also appreciated how major subjects were broken up into smaller topics to encourage detailed engagement. 

ILA Certified Director David Barth also found the course of practical benefit. “As a restructuring CEO coping with mostly insolvent companies I found ways to integrate the climate emergency into turn-around action plans and road maps,” he said. “After this masterclass, I feel well equipped to define and implement a sustainable strategic turnaround roadmap, and to win the support of investors, shareholders, employees and customers of companies in stressed situations,” he added. 

The course format also found favour. “Ravi and Raymond successfully ensured all participants were fully engaged in interactive discussions with guest speakers invited to help educate board directors,” said Ajit Singh Rai, an independent board director. He called this programme “an essential educational process which is necessary and appreciated.” Fellow independent director Dirk Amourette agreed: “I appreciated the interactivity and the framework that ware updated after the sessions.  A must-do for every director!”

To tackle today’s key challenges, business leaders need a clear understanding of the dependency and interconnectivity between these, and the relevance for their business, said Sophie Öberg, co-chair of ILA’s Sustainability Strategy for Boards committee. “The 21st Century Board Leadership Model training provides this through a holistic approach and developing the triple-bottom-line mindset focused on profit, people and the planet."

“As chair of ILA, I'm very proud of this programme,” said Carine Feipel. “The success it has had amongst our members (with full participation for the first two sessions we ran) is evidence that directors acknowledge these challenges, and are eager to help their companies respond to the unique challenges and opportunities of today's world.” While it is impossible to ‘eliminate’ risk, this programme will seek to develop 21st Century Board Leaders who can proactively mobilise strategies and action.

For more details and registration see https://www.ila.lu/21cblm