Pandemic aftermath permeated discussions on 21st century leadership at The Swedish-British Summit 2020

4 December 2020

On 3 December, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK welcomed more than 25 speakers and 300+ delegates to the Swedish-British summit 2020. The summit brought together business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and academics from both Sweden and the United Kingdom to address the key trends we are facing - from technological revolution and disruption and climate change, the future workforce and global trade - and how to navigate them as a 21st-century leader.

The annual event was, for the first time held virtually, against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic. The pandemic, its profound global effects and potential aftermath naturally also came to permeate many of the discussions. Nik Gowing, Director and Founder of Thinking the Unthinkable and former BBC news anchor served as Master of Ceremonies and excellently steered the discussions.

The event was kicked off by Helene Barnekow, CEO of Microsoft Sweden, who held a keynote speech on 21st-century leadership. In it, she highlighted the rapidity of innovation since the outbreak of the pandemic and asked rhetorically whether the pandemic was a necessary impetus to accelerate the digital transformation. She also concluded that, in order to become successful in the 'fourth industrial revolution' as the digital transformation sometimes is referred to as, leadership needs to be driven by purpose, to be value-based and inclusive, among other things. The technological transformation was the focus also of the first panel, where panellists discussed how we best tackle the impact of the sudden post-pandemic transformation in a world with increasing trade barriers and the financial crises.

Discussions in the second panel revolved around how businesses and society jointly can achieve sustainable impact, and whether the calls we are currently hearing to refuel the economy with green initiatives will eventually lead to a shift towards greener economies. In the fireside chat preceding the panel, Sir Roger Gifford, Senior Banker at SEB London, and Chair of Green Finance Institute expressed great optimism regarding the rapidly increasing interest among businesses and investors, and governmental desire to see real change happen, with net-zero announcements being made across the world. He concluded that finance, and the world at large, are changing.

Pippa Malmgren, Former US Presidential Advisor, expressed her faith in technology's ability to facilitate extraordinary results but called for a leadership being able to think outside the box, stating that a leader's imaginal skills are equally or more important than its analytical skills.

To put our existence and place in the world in a context, H.E. Olof Skoog, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, said that humans share more DNA with a cod, than the cod shares with a shark, reminding us that we are part of the whole ecosystem. As the most dangerous, but also most intelligent species in the world, we have the ability to either destroy ourselves or work together to make the world a better place.

Watch the full programme

Did you miss the discussions at the Swedish-British Summit ? Now you can watch the webinar in whole below.

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