Faculty Spotlight: Enrique Dans
Meet one of IE Business School’s most influential thought leaders.
Forbes recently named Enrique Dans to its prestigious 100 Best Influencers List, highlighting his more than 266k followers on Twitter. But for anyone following the professor of innovation’s career, that was no surprise. Business Insider, El Mundo and Adigital are a few others to recognize his unique reach in Spanish and English. Dans was a pioneer in understanding the Internet’s power and how to leverage a personal blog. But his real forte is the knack for staying current in his research on the new economy, the effects of technology on consumer behavior and the consequences of new technological developments for business in general.
Take a closer look at one of IE Business School’s favorite professors.
What brought you to IE? Where were you before?
I am a marine biologist. Never wanted to become a professor. I came to IE to get ready to build a fish farm, and more than 31 years later, here I am. As in any other job, I’ve had my ups and downs, but at the end of the day, researching, writing and teaching are things I feel passionate about. Keeping in touch with a whole bunch of different young people every year keeps me young, inspired and updated, and helps me understand the future much better. I’m a true believer in the multiplicative effects of research and education.
Have you ever had an a-ha moment while teaching that furthered your research or gave you an idea for an article? What was it?
I had my a-ha moment while doing my Ph.D. at UCLA. It was the late nineties, the internet bubble was bursting, everything was changing so quickly that I realized I had to be there, understand it, learn about it and then teach it. I quickly understood it was a big change and I am happy to say I was not mistaken. Being able to be part of the change, participating in startups, making my students understand it and getting them to embrace this change has made me quite happy all these years and of course has inspired my writings, my books and my classes at IE. As for ideas that spark articles, they happen constantly, all the time during my sessions, students can be amazingly inspiring!
What book do you wish your students would read before taking your class and why?
Something easy to read, narrative, that elaborates on the most important challenge we have now as a species: Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, truly enlightening. It starts with a huge climate catastrophe, but then goes all the way to come up with solutions, even touching upon how to leverage ideas like eco-terrorism or cryptocurrencies.
Please name one of your articles or books you feel addresses the most important issues in 2021 for IE alumni?
I would have to say my last book, Living in the Future. Published right before the pandemic, it talks about a lot of changes we would be experiencing in the next few years, some of which have quickly evolved because of the new scenario Covid-19 has rushed.
Whose research of your IE colleagues do you find interesting? Why?
I have to say that after all these years I am still looking up to my mentor, Jose Mario Álvarez de Novales, who passed away more than ten years ago but still guides my everyday activities. Besides his greatness as a friend and as a professional mentor, he was so brilliant I am still amazed some days at what he had in those brains of his. He created an artificial intelligence way before this was a thing, he understood and played with big data so many years ago without realizing how important this would be, as if it was something easy that was there for everyone to play and work with. Things like these we heard from him every day, without paying them too much attention and it’s now, so much time later, when we realize how he was able to foresee a future that was there waiting to be discovered.
Tell us one personal thing about yourself that none of your students know. A hobby, sport or talent? Strange fact? Unusual interest?
I never wanted to be a professor. Right after I graduated, a whole bunch of my friends at the university did something called CAP, a course meant for young graduates on how to teach biology in high school. I wasn’t interested at all, never thought about teaching, didn’t think some shy guy like me could even speak in front of a small group of people, so I completely dismissed it. Life had such a surprise for me! A hobby? I love spearfishing, and I practice it every summer in Galicia’s very cold waters. Ah, and I cook great rice dishes (like this one), BBQs and other outdoor cooking specialties…