2015 Best EMBA: Flavio Palaci

Flavio Palaci

Flavio Palaci


IESE Global Executive MBA (GEMBA)

As one of the youngest equity partners at Deloitte Central Europe, Flavio Palaci seemingly had it made. Like many executives, Palaci was seeking to build a broader network and gain a competitive advantage. And he found both at IESE. John Healy, the executive director of IESE’s EMBA program, touts Palaci’s vision and sense of purpose, which is grounded in “integrity, hard work and ethics.” Even more, Healy admires his “humility” and “genuine concern for others.” In his spare time, Palaci helps with his wife’s charity fashion photography. He will become a first-time father in July.

Age: 34

Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Family Members: My wife – Berniece Palaci (1st baby due on 10 July)

Undergraduate School: University New England (Australia)

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Business (Applied Finance)

Where are you currently working?PwC, Equity Partner (Analytics and Innovation Leader, Financial Crime Advisory Leader) – Central and Eastern Europe

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I wanted to extend my network beyond my established connections. My clients were seeking inspiration from the academic arena and from other professional industries. I wanted a competitive advantage in my marketplace, not only through new networks, but tapping into the right business school and develop a long-term consulting relationship.”  

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…one of many leaders seeking to find a competitive advantage through the means around oneself. That approach is much harder, longer and many times less successful.”

What are your long-term professional goals? My ambition is to run a large company as CEO. As one of the youngest Equity Partners in Europe, I am already leading large practices. However I would like to lead a broader environment and be accountable for the whole firm, the people and the future direction of the company.

My alternate aspiration is to create a completely digital financial intuition and disrupt the way people interact with their institutions forever, with 100 percent of transactions taking place autonomously via the internet (Phone, tablet, watch etc.) without the need for bricks and mortar.

Favorite Courses: Entrepreneurship: Venture Capital and Deals, Competing in Business Models, Marketing Management, Cross-Cultural Management, Business Models in the Digital Age, Managing Business Innovation.

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? Academically, I am delighted to have committed to and completed the global executive MBA offered by IESE. The most challenging and gratifying experience I have encountered to date is by far this global MBA. This global journey is imperative for leaders seeking to innovate and change the world.

Professionally, I am proud that I was one of the youngest equity partners in Deloitte Central Europe, building and creating what is without a doubt the preeminent market leader in analytics across Central Europe. I measure achievement not by the value of the outcome, but by the impact of the outcome. One of our largest clients referred to our capabilities as truly inspirational.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? There are two key pillars which drive my success, the inspiration, energy and support I receive on a personal level and the motivation injected from a professional standpoint.

On a personal level, my wife Berniece has been the sound of reason pushing me forward and supporting me to surpass my goals. Without her by my side, my success would be incomparable to what it is today. On a professional level, I have been blessed with two inspirational mentors who guided me through my career. As a leader, I devote 20 percent of my time mentoring key individuals, 20 percent of the time thinking about the present and the remaining 60 percent focusing on the future. My mentors have shaped and carved an undeniable competitive advantage catapulting my professional trajectory accordingly.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? First, the time, energy and devotion needed to complete an executive MBA is immense. As I knew from the outset, I would only go through this journey once in my life; I was compelled to do this at an institution that ranks among the top 10 executive MBA’s. This helped manage the ‘funnel of possibilities’ which led me to my next criteria to find a program that focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, cross-cultural management and global leadership. IESE was really the only program among the top 10 executive MBA programs that had modules on four continents (North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America). As a global leader, I wanted to find a program that had a strong fit between my career trajectory and the program offering. I was passionate about immersing myself in different cultures, across multiple continents to drive new insights and push my through process further. IESE has a broader profile in mind, geared towards senior/general management leaders across diverse industries. This brings forward a level of diversity amongst the participants, which I found very impressive.

I believe people underestimate the influence and impact your colleagues bear on the whole MBA and having the right mix of individuals in the program is imperative to maximizing the learning experience for everyone, IESE got this absolutely right.

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? The camaraderie and lifelong friends you make from this journey could arguably be one of the most enjoyable aspects. These tightly bound friendships extend beyond my colleagues to the entire teaching faculty and support staff of the program. This environment naturally breeds trust, compassion and inspiration, which you can draw upon at any time. The professors at IESE were always prepared to extend their relationship beyond the classroom, which is a fantastic experience to be part of. The other standout of this program was the Silicon Valley experience. I am not aware of any other program that immerses you in the Valley with the caliber of professors, professional speakers and company visits that IESE is able to execute.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? There was a precise moment that I recall which felt like the epitome of the program. We had the pleasure of being invited to the D-School (Design School) at Stanford to run a joint session on design thinking with our IESE professors. Design thinking was created at this institution and having the opportunity to learn directly from these professors was a memorable moment. Design thinking is now a regular component of the innovation process I have introduced in my organization.

Fun fact about yourself: I clean my shoes daily and never wear the same combination of shirt and cufflinks together.

Favorite book: Playing to Win

Favorite movie: Godfather 

Favorite musical performer: Michael Jackson

Favorite television show: Bear Grylls – Ultimate Survivor

Favorite vacation spot: Maldives

What are your hobbies? Motor racing, bike riding, Investing, Snowboarding

What made Flavio such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program?

“Flavio Palaci is an outstanding example of a truly global executive both for today and tomorrow. Despite his age, he has achieved so much and within a professionally discipline that is extremely relevant to the times in which we live and will live in for the foreseeable future. His vision is one of building a sense of purpose, through integrity, hard work and ethics. He is the quintessence of what we expect of the students of our program and above all our school.

His origins span four continents and perhaps go some way to explaining his humility, desire to achieve, but above all his capability to relate to people both as a leader and a team player. Flavio has brought so much to our program both personally and professionally.

His global mindset is outstanding and this has allowed him to contribute to the holistic learning experience of the program for all participants, and also to receive highly valuable inputs for him from all concerned. He is constantly committed to helping others to achieve their outcomes, without forgetting his own personal objectives for coming to the program.

At a personal level, he possesses a maturity that belies his years, and approaches life with integrity and honesty, whilst manifesting genuine concern for others.

I have gotten to know Flavio throughout every module of the program, and feel privileged to have observed his excellent contribution and growth on this highly demanding global journey that has unfolded across four continents.”

– John Healy, Executive Director, IESE Global Executive MBA Program

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