Mark Nykiel (ILF2016)


Institution: IESE Business School
Course: Global CEO Program

Gaining an Industry Leaders Fund grant has provided me with the unique opportunity to successfully complete the Global CEO program, a joint initiative of three excellent business schools: IESE – Barcelona Spain, The Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania USA and the China Europe International Business School – Shanghai China.

My program was chosen to compliment the strategic direction of the Philmac business which combines a significant domestic and export market exposure. Head quartered in Adelaide, Philmac is a global leader in the design and manufacture of specialist fittings and valves, Philmac exports to more than thirty countries across Europe, the UK, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas. The opportunity to focus my executive education journey on global markets has allowed me to work with my own team on enhancing our strategies to grow in these markets.

I considered a number of institutions and courses and talked to ILF Scholars, international business schools and alumni about the merits of each program. It’s really important to take time on finding the program that’s right for you, matching your personal development objectives and personal circumstances with your current business challenges.

Having settled on the Global CEO program, I commenced my first module in November 2016 in Shanghai, followed by module two at Wharton in Philadelphia with the final module at IESE in Barcelona. Our program was structured in three one week residential study blocks at three world class business schools, with each institution focusing on their area of expertise in three distinctly different cultural environments. With case studies and a cross program work related project the balance of intensive modules with time to reflect and build on the material provided suited my family / work / study balance.

The phased program allowed us to complete each module, reflect and implement learnings and work on our specific business case studies. Having a very small cohort of students allowed every participant to establish a connection. Our alumni group has been very active in assisting each other with business challenges and opportunities and continues to stay in touch and plan to meet again in 2019

Our cohort of twenty seven CEO’s was a particularly diverse group both geographically and by sector that provided additional insights for all. There was a real benefit in the program being limited in class size as the group was small enough to enable personal relationships to be developed with the entire team. As is often the case, the experience shared by the alumni group on business challenges, opportunities and approaches to particular strategy, leadership or operational challenges was incredibly valuable.

Our group had a quite deep experience and scale with the Global CEO of Calvin Klein, CEO Volkswagen South America, CEO Walmart Latin America, several listed company CEO’s and the CEO’s /owners of several large privately held businesses in attendance. I was lucky enough to work closely with a number of CEO’s of businesses who work in our customer geographies or with particular expertise of relevance for our business.

Taking an education experience in an environment outside of my comfort zone has enhanced my ability to reflect on my own performance as a business leader, allowing me to refine strategies to improve my own performance and the performance of my business. In parallel with my ILF journey Philmac has completed a major expansion program. This expansion has increased capacity and allows further domestic and export growth.

The chance to engage and learn from individuals with a variety of professional backgrounds, sector experience and personal journeys and life experiences has allowed me to reflect on my own personal leadership style and challenge my self-development.

The opportunity to leverage experience gained during my CEO program has helped me become a more effective CEO and business leader, reinforcing with our shareholders the value in maintaining a global head office and significant manufacturing presence in South Australia.

The Industry Leaders Fund is a great initiative that sets South Australia apart in developing our current and future business leaders and demonstrates a commitment to the future success of South Australian Industry.