https://static.theceomagazine.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/15110535/alberto-saiz-areses-wobi-5-410x330.png WOBI CEO on hybrid work as the future of corporate engagement
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WOBI CEO Alberto Saiz Areses on why hybrid work is the future of corporate engagement

As that man of letters, Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said, there is no knowledge that is not power.

That’s the tenet behind the transformative work done by the World of Business Ideas (WOBI). For the last 35 years, WOBI has encouraged the business community to pool its knowledge and resources for the greater good.

The company’s core belief is that knowledge is the strongest competitive advantage in business. It’s quite a step to take a business idea and share it with the world. This is why, the more knowledge you have – be it an understanding of your market or the experiences of those in whose footsteps you’re walking – the better your chances of success.

This is exemplified by WOBI’s oeuvre, from masterclasses to its School of Management to its signature offering, the World Business Forum. Supported by a lineup of some of the world’s most incisive and effective business thought leaders, the World Business Forum visits a variety of cities around the globe each year, providing a unique learning experience for the executive community.

"It’s exciting to see the degree of engagement at that level during those two-day events," WOBI CEO Alberto Saiz Areses tells The CEO Magazine. "We’re always evolving and adapting the World Business Forum to ensure we provide the best and most relevant experience to our delegates, including incorporating new networking and learning experiences."

Creating a climate of trust

WOBI was already more than 10 years into its mission when Areses joined the Spanish office in 2002.

"The project captivated me from the beginning," he says. "They were helping clients, companies and executives to be and do better through knowledge and I find it inspiring that, 35 years on, we’re still doing so – on a much wider scale – without losing our identity."

"The most important role of a CEO is to be available to your team, never the other way around, and it’s not easy to achieve."

What WOBI has built over three decades is what Areses calls a "climate of trust", which has enabled it to work with the best minds in business. "The speakers know the experience they’ll have working with us: engaged audiences interested in their content, superb organization and professional treatment," he says.

"We have the most talented content team in the world and our main difference is our commitment to providing quality content."

As CEO, Areses says it’s his job to ensure the company is on point. "Our entire team has to know and understand our company’s mission and never deviate from it. That’s my responsibility," he says.

"The most important role of a CEO is to be available to your team, never the other way around, and it’s not easy to achieve."

Quality over quantity

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a desperate need for inspiration within the business ecosystem, in which many felt they could see the writing on the wall. In response, a plethora of online business courses emerged.

"In most cases, the quality was neglected," Areses says. "There’s now an increased pressure on cost and quantity, but less focus on the quality of the content. WOBI stands out not only because we remain focused on providing quality and relevant content, but also as a result of our visual production and user interactivity."

"There is a face-to-face component for me that is irreplaceable, but digital formats offer numerous advantages. The future has to be convergent."

To achieve the latter, WOBI works with the newest and most effective digital tools to ensure audience engagement remains at a high. "We started working with digital products at the end of the 1990s," Areses says.

"In 1998, for instance, we launched the first management internet portal. We produced the first e-learning courses in 1999. And in 2008, we organized our first paid webinar using Webex, so we’ve always been very aware of what technology allows us to do."

The future of such engagement, he believes, is a hybrid of digital and in-person involvement. "There is a face-to-face component for me that is irreplaceable, but digital formats offer numerous advantages," he says. "The future has to be convergent."

As such, WOBI works constantly to evolve the formats of its events. "Next year, we’re developing the first digital courses curated entirely by WOBI," Areses says.

"We’ve embarked on the publication of a book compiling the history of WOBI and its speakers, which is really a history of management. We’ll also be promoting the development of our clients’ sustainable projects. We’re a company of constant initiatives and it’s an exciting time."

Leaving a legacy


For a world still recovering from the communication shake-up caused by the pandemic, events such as the World Business Forum are a hit of pure oxygen, both for attendees and speakers.

With a lineup including author and optimist Simon Sinek, Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps, former Pepsi CEO and Chair Indra Nooyi, and Titanic and Avatar filmmaker James Cameron, Areses believes 2023 is shaping up to be a particularly satisfying year for WOBI’s clients.

"I say this with all humility, but it’s incredible to see the number of clients who’ve said, ‘At WOBI, you do magic’," he says. "You cannot feel anything other than pride."

"The result of better management is happier employees, successful companies and, ultimately, a better society."

Areses says that, for speakers, the World Business Forum is a rare opportunity to not only share what they’ve learned throughout their careers, but also to share their legacy.

"I think there’s a sense of moral obligation to share their knowledge and try together to contribute to a better society," he says. "The result of better management is happier employees, successful companies and, ultimately, a better society."

Inspiring The Business World