Why WEF Matters: In Your Own Words

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, begins tomorrow. Davos is an intense week, with seemingly more events and discussions taking place this year than ever before, on the most important business, political, environmental, and societal issues impacting the world today.

This year’s forum is focused on “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” As a communicator, it is my belief that communication can play a key role in bridging the divide to build a shared future in a world fractured by geopolitical and ideological divides. This year I will again be posting thoughts on our blog, sharing real-time insights on our social channels, and identifying the key themes in our annual webinar (taking place this year on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 11:30 am ET – I hope you’ll join us!)

Everyone approaches Davos with different goals in mind. For me, I think the “Davos marathon” is a prime opportunity to learn, make connections and uncover opportunities, and my primary goal is to bring back important insights for our clients and colleagues to help them navigate the challenges and opportunities for businesses in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

For the last two years, I’ve asked Davos delegates from our client organizations and our parent company what they are most looking forward to. Their responses have covered a diversity of interests, from personal security and privacy concerns, to inclusive economies, environmental sustainability, refugees and human trafficking. This year some familiar and new themes came up . Here are a few thoughts:

“The Project Management Institute (PMI) has supported the World Economic Forum regional business working groups, with a focus on long-term investing and infrastructure development strategies and delivery. We are excited to be at Davos for the first time. As the CEO of an organization of professionals that specialize in bringing strategic ideas to life, I look forward to connecting with leaders from all over the world to talk about how to move from ideas to action.

As PMI is a founding member of the Brightline™ Initiative, a non-commercial coalition dedicated to helping organizations bridge the gap between strategy design and strategy delivery, I am looking forward to the panel discussion we are hosting with The Economist called ‘The Business Case for Openness: How to Build the Future.’ Dovetailing with Davos’ overarching theme, ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World,’ the discussion will center around how business leaders can collaborate and build agile alliances counter to some of the recent geopolitical developments around protectionism and seclusion.”

̶  Mark A. Langley, President and CEO, Project Management Institute

“At its core Davos is about an exchange in ideas and ideals that drives more purpose into our actions. Being reminded about ensuring our companies are corporations with a conscience is not just the right way to act, it’s good business and what our talent wants from its leaders. So the primary goal for me is education. What are others doing, what can I steal with pride and how can I improve our performance on this front. It’s a fortunate place to be and one I don’t take for granted.

My other goal is to connect. Davos is executive speed dating on steroids. It’s a rare opportunity to sit with multiple CEOs within 72 hours. They’re relaxed, more open and surrounded by other inspiring peers, and in truth, their more ambitious side comes out. That said, it’s also an opportunity to table our aspirations for both their business and ourselves, and to discuss how we can contribute to solving critical global challenges. It’s a condensed timetable with long hours, but in the end one leaves inspired, more knowledgeable, optimistic and with a more informed agenda on our valued partners.”

̶  Troy Ruhanen, President and CEO, TBWA Worldwide

Hearing from colleagues and clients about why WEF matters to them helps to guide my focus for the week ahead. I’m eager to learn from them and to share what I learn with all of you. Watch the Ketchum Blog for updates all week!

About Barri Rafferty

Barri Rafferty is CEO of Ketchum, one of the world’s top communication firms, with offices and affiliates in 130 markets in more than 70 countries. Barri leads Ketchum’s Global Leadership Council to guide the strategy, client service and performance of the agency. Outside of Ketchum, she participates in a number of groups including the sustainability task-force for the World Economic Forum and is a member of Arthur W. Page Society Page Up program. Rafferty sits on the board of StepUp, an organization with the mission of empowering girls from under-resourced communities to become confident, college-bound, and career focused and she is also a member of the governing body of OmniWomen, Omnicom’s Leading Women’s Network, for which she holds quarterly panel discussions featuring prominent women. She is the recipient of the Plank Center Milestones in Mentoring Award. Barri is a graduate of Boston University (M.A) and Tulane University and enjoys watching soccer, volleyball, and dance - especially when her son and daughter are involved! Connect with her on Twitter: @barrirafferty

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