#006 Ivo Matser

#006 Ivo Matser

Apr 1, 2021
Disclaimer: questo episodio e le relative note sono in inglese!
For those who don’t know Ivo Matser, you can think of him as a Sustainability expert.
He managed several universities and business schools around Europe, both as dean or CEO, he founded a marketing training company with “a pen and a blank piece of paper” and he is now the CEO of ABIS, a Brussels-based organization that focuses on sharing sustainability among institutions and the business world, with particular focus on SDGs. (the Sustainable Development Goals promoted by the UN)
In this conversation, we cover his past as an entrepreneur in the education sector, not the easiest one to tackle, his approach to managing and strategy inside and institution, all the misconceptions about sustainability and SDGs and how to understand if a company does really walk the talk sustainability-wise or it is just doing greenwashing.
Here you can find selected links from the episode and the questions with the minutes they are being asked, so you can skip up and down if you like.
Buon ascolto!


  • Check out ABIS website [Link]
  • The Baltic’s story [ENG]

Questions from the interview

  • If you are at a dinner party and someone asks you “What do you do for a living?”, how do you answer? [03:05]
  • When did you become interested in education? [06:35]
  • How do you keep update yourself on the world of education? [13:35]
  • Why do you think why they choose you to start the business? [18:45]
  • Are you a gut feeling kind of person? [20:45]
  • How did you approach that pen and paper moment? [21:50]
  • How do you approach strategy and which is the main mistake people do when they develop their strategy? [27:15]
  • How do you make sure people are carrying the right value proposition on the lower levels? [31:05]
  • When do you think “mean leadership” is appropriate? [35:10]
  • Which are the mistakes newly appointed CEOs do? [36:55]
  • How do you see the standard way of learning in the following years and is it threatened by online learning? [41:30]
  • How do you think online classes will impact students on the social level? [46:55]
  • Are there common traits successful students share? [52:20]
  • How do you develop gratification-delay? [54:25]
  • How do you prevent political games inside institutions you manage? [59:15]
  • Why did you decide to get involved in sustainability? [1:13:05]
  • What is your definition of sustainability? [1:18:15]
  • How do you understand when a company is doing greenwashing? [1:22:30]
  • Do you think we will actually reach SDGs by 2030? [1:25:20]
  • What are the next steps if SDGs won’t be achieved? [1:29:45]
  • How should a person approach sharing sustainability inside the company they work for? [1:32:30]
  • Which is the main mistake companies make approaching sustainability? [1:25:15]
  • Which is the main challenge in teaching sustainability? [1:36:25]
  • What does being a good dad mean to you? [1:39:45]
  • How do you manage your work-life balance? [1:43:30]
  • What book have you gifted to others the most? [1:46:05]
  • What does success mean to you? [1:49:00]
  • If you had a giant billboard which could be seen by billions of people, what would you put? [1:51:05]
  • When you are out of focus, what do you do to get back in focus? [1:52:45]
  • Do you have any particular habits or superstitions? [1:56:35]