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Greenlit: Escape From the Boardroom, BBC World News

Escape From the Boardroom – Docuseries following  six high-ranking executives from around the globe as they head to the front lines of their organisations in a bid to better understand their company, staff and customers.

The business world has changed immeasurably over the past decade. Globalisation has made the competition tougher and in order to stay ahead, today’s CEOs have to be multi-skilled visionaries, capable of seeing the big picture as well as understanding the details that may trip up the business. The programme features CEOs from Spyker Cars, Oxfam, Lebanon’s Semsom Restaurants, The Intercontinental Hotel Group, Dubai Airports and Woolworths.

The business bosses are set a series of challenges by staff at different levels within the organisation. The CEOs are challenged to get out from behind their desks and experience their businesses at the sharp end.

From Beirut, where one food entrepreneur delivers a busy lunchtime service to a swarm of hungry customers, to Zambia, visited by a charity CEO who explores where donations raised on UK streets end up, the business leaders are given a corporate workout before going on to deliver their findings to the staff. Is their business in good shape to tackle today’s global challenges? Or will it be a case of out of the boardroom and back to the drawing board?

The CEOs and companies featured in the series, include:

Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker Cars – Victor’s Dutch car company, Spyker Cars, plans to unveil its new luxury offering, the Spyker B6 Venator at California’s prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance automotive event. His £100,000 concept model wowed spectators at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show but will he achieve the same success on the other side of the Atlantic? Stakes are high, and next to established brands like Porsche and Ferrari, Victor finds out whether his Netherlands HQ has the capacity to take the business to the next level.

Mark Goldring, CEO of Oxfam – Mark Goldring has been the CEO of Oxfam for just three months but already the size of his challenge is abundantly clear: what does Oxfam stand for? Known as a charity that fights global poverty, the lines between aid-giving and development funding have become increasingly blurred. Meanwhile, the public’s perception of how their hard-earned donations are spent has become cynical. On a trip to one of the poorest countries in South Africa, Mark will have to tackle how to position Oxfam in today’s global market and what he needs to do to make it stand out from the competition.

Christine Sfeir, CEO of Semsom Restaurants – At the tender age of 22, Christine Sfeir introduced the American coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts to Lebanese society. Thirty branches later, she is now hungry to introduce her own restaurant chain, Semsom, to the American people. From its humble beginnings in Beirut expanding into Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and soon UAE, Qatar and Iraq, Christine will now have to compete with multi-national food heavyweights without losing focus on her Semsom brand back at home.

Jan Smits, CEO of The InterContinental Hotel Group (Asia, Africa and Middle East) – With just 13 hotels currently in India, The Intercontinental Group – the largest hotel chain in the world – aims to establish 47 by 2017 and 150 by 2020. In charge of this mammoth task is CEO of Asia, Africa and Middle East, Jan Smits. From the upscale Crowne Plaza to the more basic Holiday Inn, Jan will have to establish a variety of seven brands in a country of over 1 billion people, all with differing tastes and cultural attitudes.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports – As CEO of Dubai Airports Paul Griffiths has the responsibility of running the busiest transport hub in the Middle East and the second busiest airport in the world. His biggest challenge will be to oversee a multi-billion dollar airport expansion at Dubai International which, if successful, will make it the world’s largest airport. How will the former boss of London’s Gatwick Airport transform an airport expected to cater for an annual 90 million passengers by the end of the decade?

Ian Moir, CEO, Woolworths – Woolworths, the favourite food and clothing retailer of the South African middle-class, are at a vital point in their history. Although profits are up, the stagnant state of the South African economy along with competition from rival stores suggests that the task of expansion couldn’t be any more challenging for CEO Ian Moir. His mission is to make Woolworths the number one choice in fashion and food retail for all South Africans, but will he convince them that they have no reason to shop anywhere else other than his store?

Channel: BBC World News / Open University

Producer: Twofour

TX: 21st September 2013

Source: BBC press release

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