On October 17, IPADE welcomed Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the LVMH Group Watches Division to its campus in Mexico City to participate in the CEO Lecture Series®.
Following a warm introduction from IPADE Dean Rafael Gómez Nava, Mr. Biver jumped straight into his lecture, titled “The Future of the Swiss Watch Industry and the Smartwatch.” In addition to focusing on the future of the Swiss watch industry in more general terms, Mr. Biver shared lessons learned from his personal experience, switching back and forth between personal and industry insights.
Over the next 45 minutes, in front of a packed house of 400 attendees, Mr. Biver touched on valuing women in the workplace, following your passion, and the advent of technology and smartwatches, discussing in depth the challenges faced by traditional watchmakers such as TAG Heuer with the sudden emergence of technology companies such as Apple and Samsung as competitors.
“In 2016, Apple is the second biggest watchmaker in the world,” said Mr. Biver, “and they were not watchmakers two years ago. Suddenly, somebody that has never made a watch is capable, in two or three years, [of becoming] the biggest watchmaker in the world… We are at a very interesting moment.”
“This is management… nobody can see the future,” said Mr. Biver. “You can guess, you can have the experience, you can be clever, you can have a good instinct, a good nose, you can have great advice, great studies, but the future, you clearly don’t know. But the more you go forward, the more you see where the right direction is, which means that you constantly have to make corrections.”
When asked how TAG Heuer achieves continued relevance in the era of smart watches, Mr. Biver replied, “Swiss-made and Swiss watch is synonymous of status, of quality, of exclusivity… If your watch only tells you the time, then it’s a cheap, poor watch. It must tell you much more… It has so much significance that is more important than just time. A handmade Swiss watch has a soul… A watch, like art, is for eternity.”
The CEO Lecture Series® provides current IPADE students and alumni the opportunity to engage with and learn from the top management of major multinational companies. The CEO Lecture Series® also provides a space for networking and interaction among the IPADE community, the largest network of businesspeople in Mexico.