Preparing the Next Generation of Managers

Susan West, Professor of Leadership and Adjunct Faculty at Solvay Lifelong Learning 23/05/2022 Leadership, Management

In today’s increasingly competitive and complex world, new opportunities can present themselves when least expected. Because you never know when an opportunity will come up, the best advice is to always be prepared.

This means being proactive today and acquiring the fundamental tools and techniques of management now. That way when an opportunity does present itself, you’ll already be one step ahead of the competition and ready to lead starting from day one.  

To learn more about how the next generation of managers can prepare for tomorrow’s challenges today, we sat down with Susan West. Susan is a member of the Lifelong Learning faculty at Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, where she teaches Leadership and Self-Assessment, Change and Organisational Behaviour.   


Who is the ‘next generation of managers’?

The next generation of managers have a passion for learning and the courage to face new challenges head on. These are people who understand that in business, as in life, the only constant is change. 

Whether it be adapting to new technological advancements or jumping into a new leadership role, the key to managing change is knowledge. And because knowledge is constantly evolving, learning must be a state-of-being. The next generation of managers knows that learning to be a continuous learner is a critical skill – both for the present and the future.  


What are some of the key challenges that the next generation of managers face?

Going from being an individual contributor responsible for just their own work to being responsible for others is one of the biggest career transitions one can experience. Being able to deal with the fast pace of change and the ambiguity that goes along with it are two challenges that every new manager should expect – and prepare for. 


What advice would you give to a new manager to help them address these challenges?

In organisations, no one person or department has all the answers. That’s why it is essential that managers be able to leverage the full value of the teams they lead and the relationships they cultivate. 

The key to doing this is people management, which I believe is one of the most important skills a manager can have. But truly great managers can manage beyond the people who report to them. They know how to manage a whole set of key relationships – peers, management, clients, etc. The ability to manage across relationships is a distinguishing characteristic of successful managers.  



What does it take to become a great manager? 

It may sound like a cliché, but there’s really no better advice than to be curious and stay humble. The next generation of managers should invest the time and energy to develop their expertise now. Be open to learning from others – ask other managers and people you admire for their point of view, challenge their decisions, and learn the thinking behind these decisions. The more openly we share our collective knowledge, the more likely that the best ideas will surface – and win.


How does lifelong learning help the next generation of managers meet these challenges? 

There’s really no better way to challenge who you are as a manager than enrolling in an executive education programme like the Accelerated Management Programme at Solvay Brussels School. Our Accelerated Management Programme takes a fast-tracked approach to the fundamentals of management, and the results are transformational. 

Not only will you build key technical and leadership skills, you do so in collaboration with a network of managers, thought leaders and peers, each of whom brings a different background and a different point of view to the table. In fact, this is what I see as being the Accelerated Management Programme’s primary differentiator. Whereas other executive education experiences tend to take an individual approach to leadership development, Solvay Brussels School believes that 21st century management requires 21st century skills. 

Because leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum, neither should leadership learning. Our Accelerated Management Programme is all about collaboration and teamwork – skills that any next generation manager needs to cultivate today in order to be ready, and confident, to meet the challenges of tomorrow.



About Susan West 
Susan West holds a Masters in Organisational Psychology from Columbia University (United States). Her passion for business and psychology led her to an international career in human resources where, over the past 20 years, she has worked with Fortune 500 executives. Susan’s career spans multiple industries in Europe and the United States. She has been Senior HR Business Partner at Citibank and Director of Organisation & Leadership Development at AlliedSignal, and she has also held leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co., Inc. In 2006, she established a consulting practice in Brussels, dedicated to helping leaders and their teams meet today’s business challenges.

More info on the programme : Accelerated Management Programme

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