FTI Consulting Delegates Ready to Tackle “Mega-Challenges” After WEF
January 25, 2024
This year’s World Economic Forum (“WEF”) annual meeting brought together more than 2,800 of the world’s business, non-profit, media and government leaders for discussions around the theme of “Rebuilding Trust.”
Each year, a tiny Swiss alpine village is transformed into a veritable hub of idea-sharing and connection-making with global reverberations. What happens there often has implications elsewhere, and people worldwide livestream panels or peruse the news to keep their finger on the pulse.
But for those attending, like FTI Consulting’s 12-person delegation, spending a week at the winter wonderland-turned-global conference is a whole different experience.
For Carlyn Taylor, Global Co-Leader of Corporate Finance & Restructuring and Chief Growth Officer, the “global perspective” of the event proved highly valuable. “It’s an opportunity to meet a lot of very influential people in business, government and academia in a very short and efficient period of time and talk with them about important topics facing the world,” she said.
“I was amazed to see every single cafe, restaurant and shop converted into a space for dialogue, talks, panels and presentations,” recalled Victoria Strachwitz, a Senior Managing Director and Head of Strategic Communications Germany. “The entire village was buzzing with discussions.”
“A truly unique event,” is how Neil Doyle, a Senior Managing Director, described it, thanks to “the access to, and engagement with, our global client base, decision makers and opinion formers.”
This year’s list of attendees included many famous faces. But the biggest star of all was artificial intelligence (“AI”). Generative AI applications like ChatGPT have ignited the imagination and spurred the excitement of public figures and corporates alike, reaching Davos.
“There was an active debate between a computer science professor from one of the top U.S. universities and some entrepreneurs about how far away the AI community is from inventing what’s dubbed ‘super intelligence,’ or computers that are smarter than very intelligent humans,” Ms. Taylor recalled. “One side claimed we would never get there as you can’t do that with math, while the other side claimed we were only 20-30 years away.”
Charlie Palmer, a Senior Managing Director, noted that interest in AI exploded this year, compared to 2023, when “Davos was surprised by AI with the mass adoption of large language models.”
Experts at WEF stressed that AI must be implemented with caution. That was a major takeaway for Senior Managing Director Ana Heeren, one she says FTI Consulting’s clients need to hear.
“Every corporation, big or small, will feel the pressure to incorporate AI into their business model to increase productivity and expand into new areas of growth,” she said. “To get it right, dialogue with key stakeholders — government, regulators, investors, customers, supply-chain partners, civil society and others — will be key as they continue to navigate the diverse interests and multifaceted drivers for adoption.”
Of course, many other subjects were discussed, such as jobs, misinformation, sustainability, global cooperation and diversity. For Mr. Doyle, it was this volume and variety of views, as well as the quality of debate that stood out at Davos.
FTI Consulting’s clients should be aware of “the importance of having a considered point of view/narrative on the range of topics that stakeholders care about, from AI to sustainability,” he reflected.
“One of my favorite places at Davos is the Equality Lounge, where I heard Amy Weaver, President and CFO of Salesforce, talking about how companies need to ‘stop trying to fix women’ through extra training,” recalled Miriam Wrobel, a Senior Managing Director and Global Leader of ESG and Sustainability. “I think this is an important take on diversity, equity and inclusion and can be applied to several populations underrepresented in senior management.”
Over the course of the week, FTI Consulting delegates juggled back-to-back presentations in Davos’ venues with the opportunity for relationship building. Among the 1,600 business leaders, including more than 800 CEOs and board chairs, were many past, current and prospective clients. Delegates found time to catch up with key contacts and open new conversations, often in whatever space was available, attending dozens of meetings with company clients.
Now, as they return from their trips to Davos and settle back into ongoing projects at FTI Consulting, they say they’re refreshed and energized — and ready to tackle big challenges.
“Personally, Davos grounded me, and I am humbled to see the mega-challenges and opportunities that we will be facing over the coming decades,” Ms. Strachwitz said. “Professionally, I want to help figure out how we can support each other through these times of transition and transformation.”
Attendees included: Steven H. Gunby, President and Chief Executive Officer; Carlyn R. Taylor, Global Co-Leader of Corporate Finance & Restructuring, Chief Growth Officer; Lars Faeste, EMEA Chairman; Kate Brader, Senior Managing Director; Neil Doyle, Senior Managing Director; Renato Fazzone, Senior Managing Director, Leader of FTI Consulting Germany; Ana Heeren, Senior Managing Director; Matthew Layton, Senior Advisor; Antoine Nasr, Senior Managing Director; Charles Palmer, Senior Managing Director; Victoria Strachwitz, Senior Managing Director, Head of Strategic Communications Germany; and Miriam Wrobel, Senior Managing Director, Global Leader of ESG and Sustainability.
January 25, 2024
Editorial Manager, Corporate
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