Faculty Focus

Chris Burggraeve

TRIUM Capstone Director and Class of 2005 alumni Chris Burggraeve talks about the Capstone Project – a unique opportunity to transform learning into action – describing it as a life changing event. Here he tells senior business leaders: “you have at least two or three great chapters in you”, and asks: “what’s the next chapter in your life?

What do you enjoy most about the Capstone process?

The TRIUM Capstone Project has gradually been transformed over the years to deliver on three key learning objectives:

  1. To be a real world application of all the theory you learn from TRIUM faculty,
  2. To provide a very intense personal leadership discovery and development exercise (how you lead in self-organised peer groups), and, last but not least,
  3. To be a potentially a life changing experience, as more and more Capstone teams plan to make their projects real.

What three words would you use to describe your TRIUM experience?

Rediscovered, Purpose-driven, Capitalism.

What book are you currently reading that you would recommend to TRIUM students and alumni?

For anybody interested in reading up on Marketing Miracle$, welcome to Two of the most fascinating recent reads were “New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson, and “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi. They both make us rethink all what we hold dear on our planet today and tomorrow.

What advice would you give to students who are considering TRIUM?

Don’t come just for the academic learning or for chasing grades. At this stage of your life, and assuming you can live happy and healthy to 100 now, ask yourself and others how the immersive TRIUM experience will help you reinvent yourself on an existential level. You normally have at least two or three great chapters in you. Can TRIUM help unlock the next big one?

Where in the world have you always wanted to go, but never quite made it?

I have had the good fortune to travel professionally and privately to well over half of the 195 countries on our planet. There is plenty more to see there, but what I have truly looked forward to all my life is to go into space. I am not a rocket scientist. I am a consumer scientist with a passion for the future. I bought a Virgin Galactic ticket back in 2011, and can’t wait to go suborbital. And if that works, we’ll see what else is possible…!

Who would you most like to see as a guest speaker on TRIUM and why?

It would be awesome to bring Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk on one TRIUM podium. They are the Da Vinci’s of our time. I chose to do TRIUM back in 2002 as it pioneered the idea of a Global EMBA, but this trio inspires us to raise the bar again and to think galactic. What if TRIUM unleashes its pioneering DNA again, and becomes the first Galactic EMBA? Instead of arguing an old question (how flat the world still is?), TRIUM faculty and students would be able to explore a new question: how flat is the Universe? – teaching the leadership and managerial competencies for the new space age upon us.

What is a favourite famous quote?

Aldous Huxley, English critic and novelist, author of Brave New World: “Experience is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you” (1932).

About Chris Burggraeve:

Chris Burggraeve is a leading global marketer turned advisor, investor, entrepreneur, board member and academic. His 23 years corporate career developed at classic FMCG leaders around the world: P&G (1990-95), The Coca-Cola Company (1995-2007) and global beer leader AB InBev (global CMO 2007-12). From 2008-13 he also served as board member and president of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). At the end of 2012 he founded his own NYC-based marketing strategy consultancy (vicomte), and became an investor and board member in a globally diversified portfolio of high risk category disruptors. He chairs two non-profits related to his native Belgium and joined NYU Stern (and TRIUM) as Executive-in-Residence and Capstone Director (since 2012). He holds an International Business and Economics Masters from the KULeuven (Belgium) and a Masters in European Economics from the Centre European Universitaire de Nancy (France). He is the only TRIUM faculty to also actually hold a TRIUM Global EMBA (Class 2005). As a consumer scientist and future Virgin Galactic astronaut, he is working on a book called “The Rocket Science behind Marketing Miracles”.