Why did you go to the World Economic Forum?
This is my second time to the WEF. My objectives are threefold: The most important for me is networking with other participants. IMD is a business school with very close links to executives from all over the world. I spend quite a lot of time traveling on all continents to meet with these executives. To get a chance to meet with so many in one place is excellent. This provides for very efficient networking and communication without having to necessarily travel very far. The nature of the communication is mostly around what are the major concerns and challenges that these executives of leading corporations see, and how we at IMD can address these in our research and executive development program offerings.
What did strike you the most at this year's event?
I felt that the grave situation in Iraq had a major impact on the event. Clearly, most of the delegates were highly concerned about this. Further, a large minority felt a sense of frustration that nothing could be done. Clearly also, there was a sense of a strong noticing of the gap in communication between U.S. and Europe.
Regarding more specific business issues, there was a great concern for the depressed general economic situation that is a fact in most of the world's economies. Still, I noticed a clear sense of optimism, in the sense that many delegates felt that the worst of the economic beating might now be behind us, and that we were set for an economic upturn, assuming of course that the political situation in Iraq does not deteriorate.
Lessons learnt. Davos is also about new insights and ideas. What did you learn at this year's Davos?
For me the most important lessons were relating to business governance and the importance of proper standards, moral fibre as well as relevant regulation in this area. Here, I was struck by the fact that the answer is probably not too many rules and regulations, at least not in excess, but rather to heighten the sense of responsibility of the senior executives involved, and their moral fibre.
Also, I was struck by the importance of the business and society issues, the overall responsibility of business in society, the importance of openness, full disclosure and a morally defensible business profile.