The Center for Business Complexity and Global Leadership at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School will bring together business leaders, scientists and scholars in October for an annual three-day symposium on the critically important topic of business complexity.

The second Business Complexity and the Global Leader Conference will take place on the University’s Boston campus from Oct. 17-19, 2011. The symposium will address the issues raised by a business environment that has become extraordinarily complex, with systems, technologies, economies and governments so interconnected as to have seemingly moved beyond management control in many cases.

“We are at a turning point in history where man-made systems have reached such a large scale and level of interconnectedness that they are beginning to exhibit complex adaptive behavior,” said Greta Meszoely of the Sawyer Business School faculty, the conference organizer. “Complexity creates both challenges and opportunities. It is a necessary ingredient for innovation and an inevitable consequence of growth. Today’s leaders cannot afford to avoid it. They must develop the basic competencies to lead in a complex world.”

A 2010 IBM survey found that the rapid escalation of complexity has become the single biggest challenge CEOs face, and about half of them doubt their ability to manage these complexities. Of the more than 1,500 CEOs and other senior executives surveyed, eight in 10 said they expected that their environment would grow even more complex.

Suffolk University has fast become a leader in fostering the conversation about business complexity and its critical importance to enterprises in a rapidly changing global business environment. The Center for Business Complexity and Global Leadership’s mission is to bring together practitioners and scholars to address today’s increasingly complex and interdependent problems in the business world.

The symposium will address topics including:

Complex adaptive systems
Complex networks
Agent-based modeling
The complexity of global financial markets and systematic risk
Modeling human dynamics in networks

Thought leaders and practitioners who will participate include:

  • Geoffrey West, theoretical physicist and distinguished professor at the Santa Fe Institute, who in 2006 was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
  • Kathleen C. Engel, associate dean for Intellectual Life and professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School and a national authority on mortgage finance and regulation. Engel is the author of The Subprime Virus: Reckless Credit, Regulatory Failure, and Next Steps.
  • Ren Cheng, senior research adviser for Fidelity Management & Research Company (FMRCo), responsible for working with investment teams across the company on asset allocation and research.
  • Eric Bonabeau, the founder of Icosystem, one of the world's leading experts in complex systems and distributed adaptive problem solving.
  • David Lazer, a member of both the College of Computer and Information Science and the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University. His research centers on social networks and governance.
  • Alessandro Vespignani, the James H. Rudy Professor of Informatics and Computing and adjunct professor of Physics and Statistics at Indiana University, where he is also the director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS). Vespignani soon will join the faculty of Northeastern University.
  • Adam Price, a Fulbright Scholar and a 2011 Master in Public Administration candidate at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is a two-term former Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales Member of Parliament, representing Carmarthen East and Dinefwr.
  • Marta C. Gonzalez, assistant professor at MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Using approaches from statistical physics, computational sciences, geographic information systems and network theory, she studies network problems such as human mobility patterns using mobile phone communication.
  • Greta Meszoely, director of the Center for Business Complexity & Global Leadership at Suffolk University, associate professor at the Sawyer Business School and a fellow in the Center for Innovation and Change Leadership.
  • Stoyan Tanev, associate professor in the Institute of Technology and Innovation and member of the Integrative Innovation Management (I2M) Research Unit at the University of Southern Denmark. Tanev is an expert in nanobiophotonics simulation and modeling.
  • Davide De March, founder of EvoSolutions, which is combining optimization algorithms and advanced statistical models to learn and optimize complex and high-dimensional data problems.