In the spotlight with André Schneider
As the World Economic Forum returns to the venue of Dalian for the Third Annual New Champions Meeting, Swiss Style discussed the objectives of this gathering of new emerging multinationals with André Schneider, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Economic Forum.
Having begun his career at the World Economic Forum in 1998 as Chief Technology Officer, Schneider has since seen the rise of the “New Champions” and the Global Growth Companies in becoming pioneers and world leaders in their chosen fields, and is therefore well versed in what it takes to become a participant in a New Champions Meeting.
Although, it must be said, one might not have envisaged such a future for the energetic Schneider given his initial endeavours upon completing his education.
While holding degrees from IMD (International Institute for Manaagement Development, Lausanne) and the University of Geneva, we discover that André Schneider launched his professional career as a classical musician. He has played for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Berlin, the Staatstheater Kassel, the Symphony Orchestra of the Radio Saarland and the Lucerne International Festival Orchestra.
In adding to his calling in the world of music, he became a researcher in parallel computers for the European Community. At IBM Consulting Group, he was Product Developer, Consultant and Principal. Before joining the World Economic Forum in 1998, he worked for IBM and was an IT consultant for various companies and organizations. In 2000, Schneider was appointed Director of Knowledge Management and Associate Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum. He has been a member of the Managing Board since January 2003.
A new platform and opportunity
Given its overall theme of “Relaunching Growth”, the Dalian Meeting is particularly focused on what some of the world’s leading minds in business, government and academia think about the ways out of the global crisis gripping the world’s economies.
“The New Champions Meeting provides a platform to the new generation of internationally working multinationals. In the first place, there has been no such platform before, and in times of crisis we need an informal platform to exchange ideas,” Schneider says.
“The New Champions is an opportunity for these new companies to meet with existing multinationals, with governments and with other stakeholders. Simply put, if we want to get out of such a crisis, we must create the right environment for these new players,” he adds.
“Our wish is also that these new companies seize the opportunity in what we call ‘green growth’. We should not forget that we are in an economic crisis, but that’s not the only one to look at. We should not forget that, in parallel, we have to address climate change,” Schneider emphasizes. “We want to make this Meeting an enhancer for development in this area as well.”
These thoughts are echoed in the World Economic Forum’s statements regarding the agenda for the New Champions Meeting, with the first theme being, “Opportunities in a Green Economy”. According to this, every major stimulus plan from among the G7 assumes that green investments addressing global environmental challenges will create new technologies, businesses and jobs to improve national competitiveness over the long run – but the question is: What are the most critical investments to be made and what will they deliver in the near term?
Going forward into the future
“While at the World Economic Forum in Davos we bring together existing multinationals, at the New Champions Meeting we want to look at the new generation of these. We also want to bring them together with technology pioneers, the new genera•tion of technology companies, as well as young scientists, people who will play an important role in the world going forward.” Schneider underlines.
“It is extremely important that we look at the next generation because they will be part of the growth to come. And through having many of our strategic partners and many of our other member companies present in Dalian at the New Champions Meeting, we are building bridges and allow for the best synergy between these two communities,” he adds.
A wider opening door to Asia
When asked how he envisioned the evolution of the New Champions, Schneider says, “Evolution will be marked by participation of an increasing number of Global Growth Companies – we now have over two hundred of them – but also an increasing Asian angle because the business world is becoming more and more strongly influenced by Asian companies, Asian states and China, in particular.”
In remarking on the apparent shift from West to East and the World Economic Forum’s focus on this, Schneider remarks, “We need to find platforms where we can much better incorporate these ideas because, today, if we look at leading business com•panies, a majority are still based in Europe and the United States, and we really need to work on how we increase our capacity to be open to this new generation from Asia. We know that in the next twenty to thirty years the boundaries will be greatly changed and will go much more toward the Asian world.”
As Schneider puts it, “Globalization is showing that there is no decoupling anymore – we are all sitting in the same boat. And as I mentioned earlier, climate change is showing that very clearly.”
With these thoughts in mind, there can be little doubt that the New Champions Meeting in Dalian will not only address some of today’s most compelling agendas and issues, but also explore – and hopefully discover – the paths to a more sustainable and “green” economic future, where the world is one and the answers are found by working together.