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Our Leadership Series provides our students with the chance to engage and connect with some of the world’s most influential industry leaders. Our most recent talk was given by Eric Favre, inventor of global coffee manufacturer Nespresso, who spoke about the importance of innovation.
“Innovation can happen to any product, service or organization,” Eric said. “It can mean bringing forth a new idea and then trying to improve it.” This was an ethos that Eric has applied to his whole career, having worked and developed a number of products before joining the global company Nestlé. It was here where he invented the Nespresso coffee capsule.
Eric came up with the idea after frequenting a number of coffee bars in Italy. “I found out some made coffee better than others, and learnt some Italians would choose to go to a bar for the quality of the coffee over anything else,” he said. Eric favoured the coffee made by Eugenio in Rome’s Sant’Eustachio. “I asked myself how I would be able to reproduce this coffee,” Eric said. “And realized it was not the machine, the coffee or the water, it was the individual skills of the baristas. There are billions of capsules sold each year across the world thanks to an understanding of what Eugenio was able to do.”
Eric believes innovation is key to success, but comes in many forms. “Innovation is not necessarily an invention, but it’s certainly a change,” he said. “As we can often see, innovations in services are becoming as important as product innovation. So be innovative and do not repeat what others have done and tell you what to do.”
Although he was part of a large company, Eric was not afraid to share his ideas. It is a mindset he believes others should follow. “When you join a large multinational company, you have to accept its structure and its corporate culture,” Eric said. “However, there is nothing to stop you from questioning it. You must contribute your ideas subtly, without stepping out of line, but don’t be afraid to share your vision.”
Eric advises those with big ideas to not be afraid to set up their own business. “You must create your own company, even if gets absorbed later on,” he said. “The start-ups of today will become the international companies of tomorrow.”
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