Bain's Paul Meehan, Jacek Poswiata, James Root, Sri Rajan, Gerry Mattios, Joe Scalise, Henrik Naujoks, Walter Sinn and Prashant Sarin share their experiences and perspectives from the 2017 World Economic Forum at Davos.
Read the transcript below.
PAUL MEEHAN: I started off actually at the WPP breakfast, which had the theme of truth and trust in 2017 after a tumultuous political year last year. It really calls on the importance of authentic leadership in today's world, whether you're in politics, whether you're in the public sector or running organizations. A theme, I think, at Bain, which really plays to our True North position in the marketplace and how we really take on the tough issues of business with a real focus on the facts and the challenges that our companies face.
JACEK POSWIATA: The connections between governments and businesses sometimes are not exactly aligned. But it's good to hear their voices, particularly in today's world. There are some global issues and global problems that we need to face.
JAMES ROOT: The evidence is now clear that governments and voters are objecting to some of these outcomes. And I think there were real concerns. Should some of the momentum behind globalization and free trade be questioned? Lo and behold, the leader of China comes into the meeting for the first-ever time and says, No, no, no, globalization is here, globalization is inevitable; it cannot be stopped, it must not be stopped.
SRI RAJAN: People are waiting to see what the policies are going to be, especially in the areas of trade. I think everyone is pretty clear that they don't want a trade war to break out. And they believe it'll be the wrong thing for the entire world. The speech that Xi Jinping made a couple of days ago made a very strong case for both global trade and for globalization. It was interesting to hear that from the head of the largest Communist Party in the world.
GERRY MATTIOS: We're very excited to have launched a short, yet very important, report on the New Silk Road. The New Silk Road sits in the center of the new China policy, particularly on trade and the globalization effort that China is making by investing in the China Silk Road. And also, really investing in digital infrastructure over the coming years could have a positive effect on GDP growth—up to 4% or even 7% across the countries that are affected by the New Silk Road.
JOE SCALISE: "Old" fossil fuels—oil and gas, however people want to think of it—is still, over our lifetimes, going to require probably another $30 trillion in investment. So I think trying to adjust our energy matrix to accommodate new technologies and get the most value from them for society, in combination with our existing energy matrix, is one of the bigger challenges we're going to see.
HENRIK NAUJOKS: We cannot change the uncertainty, but we have to manage it. There is a lot of hope, and people are asking for concrete action. What can we actually do? It's not about guessing. It's not about spending tons of time speculating, but taking concrete actions. And let's continue to benefit from it. Let's continue to push it. Let's continue to really take the best out of it.
WALTER SINN: I was particularly thrilled by a panel discussion with the CEOs of IBM and Microsoft on artificial intelligence, which is one out of several topics in this arena. And clearly, hearing them talk about autonomous driving, about diagnostic and healthcare and so on, shows that we are really at the very beginning of development with respect to artificial intelligence, [which is just one aspect] of the Internet of Things, among all the other issues. That's exciting. That is putting a lot of challenges to traditional companies, obviously. And it's clearly a field for us to engage in.
PRASHANT SARIN: The ethical and moral implications of the world today, especially as we think about these new technologies, artificial intelligence or robotics: Advances in these fields are improving at breakneck speed. And if you think about it quite carefully, what 100 people are doing in research labs across the world is going to impact 7 billion people around the world over the next 10 or 20 years. Thinking quite carefully about how we balance the technology vs. the social and ethical requirements is going to be a key requirement for companies around the world.