PROFESSOR RONNIE LESSEM
Co-Founder, Trans4m Center for Integral Development, Geneva, Switzerland
Born in Zimbabwe of Central European parentage, Ronnie Lessem studied economics, and business studies at the University of Zimbabwe (BSc Econ in Economic Principles), the London School of Economics (MSc in Economics of Industry), Harvard Business School (MBA in Corporate Planning) and City University in London (PhD focused on action learning and enterprise development). He initially worked as a Corporate Planner and subsequently as Managing Director of a chain of supermarkets, both in South Africa, before becoming a business academic based in the UK, Switzerland, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as an international management consultant. His major clients were such multinationals as IBM, Shell, Esso, and Unilever. At the same time he co-founded URBED – Urban and Economic Development Group – in London, focused on community economic, and enterprise, development. Since the 1980’s, moreover he has written some 30 books on self, enterprise and societal development, focused on Africa, Asia, Europe and American in turn.
In the new millennium, Lessem pursued his passion for releasing the genius of individuals and communities, organizations and societies, in “four worlds”, that is in the global south and east, north and west. Together with his colleague, Professor Alexander Schieffer (Germany/France), he established the TRANS4M Center for Integral Development (www.trans-4-m.com), headquartered in Geneva. The center focuses on “transformational education” and “research for innovation”, as well as “community activation” and “awakening consciousness”. At the heart of TRANS4M’s work is its integral approach – a culturally contextualized approach to releasing individual and collective genius, in conjunction with universities, enterprises and communities. Its postgraduate and undergraduate programs, aligned with integral research centers, evoke the individual and collective callings, contexts, co-creations and contributions of individuals and institutions in the four corners of the globe.
Through Trans4m’s catalytic and developmental activities, it has grown into a transcultural and transformational movement for individuals and communities, organizations and societies engaged with critical issues: from food security in rural Zimbabwe to economic revitalization in urban and rural Nigeria. At the same time, it aims to draw upon the uniqueness of each community, organization or society, be it the capacity for healing in Pax Herbals of Edo State in Nigeria, or the environmental consciousness of Slovenia within the European Union. Overall, while on the one hand Trans4m takes individuals on postgraduate and undergraduate programs a transformational journey, from calling to contribution, on the other hand it engages communities, organizations and societies, in social innovation. This extends from community activation to transformative enterprise, via consciousness raising and institutionalized social research.
Aside from the books published jointly with Alexander Schieffer, Ronnie Lessem has written, together with kindred spirits from Africa, Asia, Europe and America, Integral Community (Gower, 2013), Integral Polity (Gower, 2014), Integral Advantage (Gower, 2015) and The Integrators : Beyond Leadership, Knowledge (Gower, 2016). Lessem’s primary orientation though, together with Schieffer and our Trans4m research community, further to promoting community Activation, while awakening individual and collective consciousness, is upon co-evolving innovation driven, institutionalized social research centers, most especially in the “Global South”, via Trans4m’s Centre for Integral Development in Geneva. These are invariably aligned with transformative enterprises, like Pax Herbals, and transformative educational establishments, like, currently, The Da Vinci Institute in South Africa, and, prospectively, the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ibadan.