Professor Danica Purg accepts the honorary doctorate from Professor Colin Picker. Photo: Simon Kupferschmied

UOW bestows Honorary Doctorate on Professor Danica Purg

UOW bestows Honorary Doctorate on Professor Danica Purg

Renowned leader honoured for her dedication to ethics in business education

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has conferred a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) on Professor Danica Purg, a renowned European business leader and trailblazer in the world of leadership and business education, during a ceremony in Vienna, Austria last week (Wednesday 26 July).

Professor Colin Picker, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at UOW, presented the honorary doctorate to Professor Purg during an event that featured guests from throughout the European region, including Arnold Walravens, Professor of Corporate Governance and Arts and Leadership at IEDC, and Philipp Bodzenta, Director of Public Affairs at Coca-Cola (representing Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein).

Professor Purg was recognised for her dedication, innovation, and the pursuit of excellence in transforming business education around the world and bringing the value of ethical, responsible leadership to the fore.

Born in Slovenia, then known as Yugoslavia, Professor Purg was educated in the small village of Ptujska Gora, where she was inspired at elementary school to dream big.

“My teachers taught me that I can become anything I want with hard work and that it was important to contribute to build a new society,” Professor Purg said.

It was a goal that would guide Profesor Purg throughout her career. Indeed, through her work in the fields of leadership and business, she has made an immense contribution to society.

Professor Danica Purg in a close up image. She has red hair, wears black glasses and a white suit. Photo: Simon Kupferschmied

An outstanding international leader and innovator in business education, Professor Purg has shaped a new generation of leaders equipped to navigate and improve the increasingly complex world.  

Beginning her academic career with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Sociology, Political Science and Journalism, Professor Purg then gained a Master’s Degree and a PhD from the University of Belgrade, with her theses focusing on worker participation in management in France and The Netherlands, respectively.

In 1986, Professor Purg established the IECD-Bled School of Management, the first management school in then Yugoslavia. With ethical leadership at its core and with a unique learning methodology inspired by the arts, the school is considered one of the most innovative international management institutions in Central and Eastern Europe. Professor Purg has spent close to four decades as its President and it is one of her proudest achievements. A few years later, in 1993, she was instrumental in founding CEEMAN, The International Association for Management Development in Dynamic Societies

What began as an organisation focused on Central and Eastern Europe, at a time of tremendous social and economic transformation in the region, has grown into a global network that encompasses 200 members from 50 countries across Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, with interests in education and innovation.

“One of my biggest achievements has been succeeding in building a modern international management school in a socialist environment and bringing together professors of management in CEEMAN in a time when Eastern Europe went through big changes.”

Professor Purg has served in numerous roles advancing management education for society’s betterment, including as founder of the United Nations Global Compact in Slovenia, chairing the United Nations PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) initiative where she successfully led the transformation of PRME’s governance structure, and as founding President of the Alliance of Management Development Associations in Rising Economies, in 2020, among countless others.

Professor Purg’s achievements are numerous and impressive. She was named International Educator of the Year Award by the Academy of International Business in 2010, and counts Slovenia’s Honorary Order of Freedom, France’s National Order of the Legion of Honour, and the Order of Rio Branco – Brazil’s highest decoration for a foreign national – among her many honours.

Professor Danica Purg accepts the honorary doctorate from Professor Colin Picker. Photo: Simon Kupferschmied Professor Danica Purg with Professor Colin Picker at the ceremony in Vienna. 

Throughout her career, Professor Purg has maintained her passion for ethical leadership and for responsible business practices. It all comes back to her beliefs in helping others and in creating a better society.

“The best values in a leader are vision, social responsibility and cooperative mindset, capability to work in a team and having the skills to implement the vision with others,” she said.

“I feel we are not born without reasons. I always felt the responsibility to be grateful for getting life and to make the best out of my environment. This environment became global because all important issues are global.”

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at UOW, Professor Colin Picker, presented Professor Purg with her Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) and praised her immense contribution to the field of business education, in Slovenia and around the world. 

“Danica is a true example of the power of ethical and responsible leadership,” Professor Picker said. “Through her tireless work and pursuit of excellence, she has continued to inspire generations of business students and future leaders to create a society in which ethics are not merely spoken about but are embodied in every aspect of her career.

“A genuine pioneer, Danica’s innovative approach was ahead of its time. Her remarkable leadership and focus on arts, social contexts, and sustainability have had a global impact that will resonate for decades to come.”

Professor Purg said she was delighted to be recognised by UOW.

“I feel very honoured, especially receiving it from a university that stands for the same values I promote: inclusivity, respecting the local history and context, sustainability and social responsibility.”