Euvin Naidoo, president and CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America, told his audience at a recent conference that Africa is “on the cusp of a lot of exciting things. Do not be a bystander: This is the time.” Naidoo could have been talking about the larger global marketplace in general, and indeed, his message is echoed by all the leaders who are part of this special leadership section. In addition to Naidoo, they include Timothy P. Flynn, chairman of global accounting firm KPMG; Maurice Flanagan, who launched Dubai-based Emirates airlines in 1985 and remains executive vice chairman; Judy Hu, global executive director for advertising and branding at General Electric; and Erwann Michel-Kerjan, managing director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. Michel-Kerjan, who was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders this year, sees what he terms “a rising generation of leaders who will fundamentally change the global competitive landscape, balancing new risks and opportunities, and transforming society.”
Africa’s stunning lack of basic services, such as electrical and telephone grids and Internet connectivity, might cause many to despair, but Euvin Naidoo looks at the map and sees something different: hope. During a keynote address at the recent 15th annual Wharton Africa Business Forum, Naidoo — president and CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce in America — noted that with the world pushing for alternative sources of energy, such as windmills or geothermal power, it will be easier to implement these new technologies in Africa than in more developed countries. “The key about disruptive technology is that it has a chance to innovate at the base of the pyramid,” said Naidoo.
For Timothy P. Flynn, chairman of the global accounting firm KPMG, ethics and integrity are not just boilerplate language in the company mission statement. Flynn, who was on campus as part of The 2007 Wharton Ethics and Leadership speaker series, became CEO of KPMG’s U.S. partnership in 2005, just as former partners were being indicted for allegedly creating $2.5 billion in fraudulent tax shelters. “When I took over, it was a very challenging time for the firm,” he said. “There was a very real possibility that the tax situation could threaten our very existence.” Flynn spoke about efforts by him and others to make ethics and integrity a critical element of leadership at KPMG.
If you were looking for clues on how to save the troubled airline industry, you might be tempted to start by focusing on Dubai-based Emirates — one carrier that has continued to increase traffic and revenues even as most of its rivals struggle with rising fuel and personnel costs and mounting losses. But Maurice Flanagan, who launched the global air giant in 1985 and remains executive vice chairman, conceded that it would be hard for any American airline to duplicate the success of the Dubai carrier. Flanagan talked about the reasons for Emirates’ ascent, his own management style and the new Airbus A380 jetliners as part of a recent Wharton Leadership Lecture presentation.
Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, is remaking one of the world’s best-known companies into an eco-minded innovator. Judy Hu has to communicate his vision to the world. Hu is global executive director for advertising and branding for the Connecticut-based conglomerate and overseer of its award-winning “Imagination at Work” and “Ecomagination” ad campaigns. “Jeff decided that we could no longer drive growth through acquisition,” says Hu, who spoke at the recent 2007 Wharton Marketing Conference. “We had to focus on R&D and creating new products and services. Our story is about a new vision for GE.”
In early September, nearly 1,700 leaders representing business, politics, the arts and universities gathered in the city of Dalian, 600 miles east of Beijing. Erwann Michel-Kerjan, managing director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, who was selected as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders this year, attended the five-day event, which included participants from 90 countries. He offers his report on what he calls “The New Risk Architecture.”