Global CEOs gather at Bloomberg, London

I had the pleasure to attend #BloombergBreakaway Summit on 13 November 2018 and listen to global leaders speak about their insights, share their challenges and how they overcame them. It was an extremely engaging and interactive session led by Mark Bonchek, Carol Massar and Francine Lacqua. A wide range of topics from Diversity, Talent, Innovation & Disruption were discussed. Here are a few of my takeaways I hope to implement at least a few in my organisation.

Diversity is a business issue and not an HR issue

Having a diverse workforce adds richness to companies of all sizes. Jo Malone, CEO of Jo Loves mentioned that diversity should not be seen as an HR issue but a business issue. She also talked about recruiting staff with a positive ‘attitude’ which is extremely important. With the right attitude and positive values everyone wins.

Jo also shared with the audience her core values and her decision making process, she called them the 5 ‘I’s, Inspiration, Ignition, Innovation, Instinct, Imagination. At Emerge we live by our three core pillars; Trust, Integrity and Honesty, and now we hope to also instil the 5 ‘I’s into our DNA.

Reverse Mentoring Program

This was a new phenomenon for me and many of the other leaders in the audience. Out of the 10 colleagues on my table only 1 had implemented this program. So what is Reverse Mentoring? It is an opportunity for Millennials or Generation ‘Z’s to have a voice with senior management. In a nutshell graduates and interns get to teach senior executives on certain topics and technology solutions. Yapster was mentioned as a new communication tool. It’s basically WhatsApp but for the retail and hospitality industry. Many thanks to Dayne Turbitt and his team for explaining how Dell are using Reverse Mentoring within their organisation.

30% of SME’s fail in their first year

This was not a shock to many people in the room. The important thing to remember and which resonated with me and many other in the room, was to not give-up and have a ‘can-do’ attitude. This same mantra was echoed by another speaker, their advice was ‘Fall but don’t fail!’

During a live poll, ‘What do you prioritise most in order to achieve breakaway growth’, initially the audience placed People first. Jo then started to talk about Product being absolutely vital and that if you are not in ‘love’ with your product then how do you expect others to ‘love’ it. It was interesting to see the poll swing at this point from People to Product.

Direction without destination

There was a lot of discussion on innovative technologies by Dell’s, Senior Vice President, Claire Vyvyan and Chief Epiphany Officer Mark Bonchek. Organisations generally tend to have two different attitudes when new technologies emerge. The first is the most common, ‘let’s wait and see‘. This is akin to the incremental path to innovation (see diagram below). The other is let’s ‘jump-in and see’ and join the bandwagon which is when activities in innovation increase ‘exponentially‘. These two scenarios can pose complex issues when there is no clear roadmap with a final destination. If one jumps in too quick a whole host of issues may present themselves. One is most likely to be resource constraints. The other could be lack of talent. According to many of the CEO’s there simply isn’t enough talent available, whether that be engineers to build product stacks or experienced managers to guide you through the product phase. If companies on the other hand use the ‘wait and see’ tactic they may be left behind. Startups such as Revolut have embraced new technologies and have stormed ahead with nearly 2 million customers, and are now posing a threat to conventional banks. It is therefore critical to build a skilled team in house, be ‘ambidextrous’ and seek external support and guidance in order to embrace innovation and new technologies.

Blockchain seems to be a technology which can be used for legitimate purposes with a valid proposition. One example that came up time and time again was the use of the Blockchain in health services. The technology has the potential to connect disintegrated systems and reduce the cost of intermediaries.

How to prepare for Brexit – An administrative burden

Brexit was also top of the agenda. Martin Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Standard Investments said that Brexit is an administrative burden and his company has setup operations in various jurisdictions to minimise any impact and disruption to his business. His investment managers will continue to operate out of London whilst subsidiaries are setup in places like Dublin and Luxembourg. This approach is being taken by many as most organisations have ‘task forces’ in place to manage the Brexit process with the support of both internal and external resources. Only time will tell whether there will be significant impact to businesses.

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