Global Summits and Speakers

The Global Business Initiative brings accomplished business leaders to engage the Georgetown McDonough community in dialogue about the challenges of leading global businesses in specific industries.


GBI also has partnered with the Georgetown Retail & Luxury Association (GRLA), a student-run organization that focuses on educating peers about the retail and luxury industries as well as increasing opportunities for them within those fields, in order to engage in future co-hosting opportunities for the Georgetown McDonough community.

Five CEOs Speak at Global Luxury Summit in New York

Twilight in New York City set the stage for the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Global Luxury Summit held Thursday, Jan. 29, in the Time Warner Building across from Central Park. CEOs from global luxury brands Estee Lauder, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Kara Ross, and Ermenegildo Zegna joined in a conversation of producing and marketing their products around the world.

More than 300 Georgetown alumni, parents, university leaders, and students participated in the event, as well industry representatives and members of the media. Some 100 undergraduate students traveled to join in the discussion.

The Georgetown Retail and Luxury Association (GRLA) student organization worked on the event along with the Georgetown McDonough Office of Alumni and External Relations and the school’s Global Business Initiative. Undergraduate business students, led by Edouard Freda, started GRLA in 2012 to connect the students and the university with the retail and luxury industries.

During the program, the CEOs each shared their perspective of the global luxury brand industry.

Michael Kors CEO John Idol said that the success of a luxury product business involves building the brand, creating desire for products, and ensuring a great customer experience.

Kara Ross, CEO of Kara Ross, defined luxury products as those that are quality made using craftsmanship, and that have a uniqueness about them.

Estee Lauder’s CEO Fabrizio Freda, a member of the Georgetown McDonough Global Business Initiative's advisory board, talked about how global brands need to innovate for the most demanding consumers with the highest expectations, using lipstick as an example. “France uses the most lipstick in world,” he said. “If you are going to create a lipstick, you talk with French consumers.”

Beyond the products themselves, Gildo Zegna, CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna, advised businesses interested in entering the global luxury industry to “invest in talented people to provide exceptional service to be more valuable to their customers.”

Georgetown McDonough Dean David A. Thomas opened the summit with remarks about the school’s mission to educate and develop principled leaders with a global mindset to be in service to business and society. He spoke about the education and activities afforded its students that make Georgetown McDonough the premier destination for global business education.

Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia welcomed and introduced the panelists, as well as panel moderator Ricardo Ernst, director of the Georgetown McDonough Global Business Initiative, and professor of operations.

The event was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Walt Mossberg Talks Global Trends

The futuristic Star Trek computer of the 1960s television show is closer to reality than we might think, according to tech expert Walt Mossberg. Mossberg, longtime technology columnist at the Wall Street Journal and co-founder of Re/code, addressed students, faculty, and community members at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on Oct. 15.


Mossberg shared his insight on the top technology trends that will affect global businesses and consumers in the coming years, including sensors and “wearables,” improved battery technology, and self-driving cars.