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Insights from Strat Fest 2019: Building Resilience

October 09, 2019

​On Wednesday 2nd October Freshminds hosted the 5th edition of our annual Strat Fest event; this year on the topic on ‘Building Resilience’. This year we were joined by three-panel speakers; Bobby Vedral, Founder at MacroEagle, Angie Ma, Co-founder at Faculty & Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British Diplomat and Chairman at Gatehouse Advisory and seminar speaker, Jon Key.

The talks alongside the Q & A’s led to some thought-provoking discussions, and our speakers each took us through different industry trends including how Macro-Economics, Politics and AI are all driving changes that we need to be prepared to build resilience against.

In brief, here is a run-through of each speaker and how the talks unravelled.

Bobby Vedral, Founder of MacroEagle

“There are many political cycles, but little inflation. What we are doing now - and this is a global phenomenon - is we are flipping socially to the right, and economically to the left.” (Bobby Vedral, Founder of MacroEagle)

Bobby, throughout his talk, covered two keys topics on Macro-Economics and its impact but also the power shift in the UK.

Within Macroeconomics, you can see that dollar dominance distorts the global economy. USD equates to 25% of GDP, but 80% of the currency market. Macro-economic downturns, therefore, are overwhelmingly reliant on USD liquidity causing economic cycles to be more frequent than political cycles, and infrequently these cycles coincide. Political inflexion points tend to occur when socio-political sentiment shifts from the left to the right (historically). This has tended to be mirrored by left-leaning economic policy gradually becoming more right-leaning over time

He also covered the power shift in the EU and the impact of this. Both socially and economically the outlook/values displayed by the northern states differs significantly from the Southern. Brexit removes a significant Northern player, leading to imbalance. The socially conservative southern states are increasingly powerful, with economically strong northern powerbase under threat. These values are the hardest part to align – agreeing what is right and wrong is very difficult.

Angie Ma, Co-Founder at Faculty.

“The increasing use of AI poses interesting safety and ethics questions. Trust, privacy and inclusivity are all genuine issues, still. Making sure that AI is robust and reliable is important. There is a real opportunity for us, at this early stage in AI development, to make sure that good provisions are implemented right at the start.” (Angie Ma, Co-Founder at Faculty)

Angie talk was focused on AI being ubiquitous; AI is a generalist technology, rather than a specialist one. Like electricity, it has the potential to power everything we do. Organisations, therefore, need to identify specific, meaningful and tangible applications for AI within their business, and focus on developing these, and then grow from there. Artificial Intelligence can be viewed as the automation of tasks that would otherwise appear intelligent if a human did them and there it is ideally suited to repetitive tasks and transparent decision making. Again, values play their part – with differing global views by region on the level of “autonomy” that machines should be given on what has traditionally been complex and subjective decisions

Jeremy Greenstock, Former British Diplomat, Chairman at Gatehouse Advisory 

“When you say the word ‘resilience’, what need to define what we must be resilient against. We need to be resilient against a changing environment and competition. There has never been a period in history when competition hasn’t ended up in conflict. (Jeremy Greenstock, Former British Diplomat, Chairman at Gatehouse Advisory)

On competition and conflict: The defining characteristic of intelligent human life is a desire to control our environment. We do this through Intelligence, Adaptability, and Teamwork. We also compete for control of a resource. Historically, competition has always been followed by conflict. Increasing global economic competition should be viewed as no different. Economic resilience can be considered to be at odds with optimisation and efficiency. Perfect efficiency leaves no contingency or capacity. Business leaders need to make clear strategic decisions on where they want to sit on the resilience spectrum. We must think global but act locally.

Lateral risk and the things we can’t control: We need to identify the changes that we can influence and focus optimisation/change on these. For the risks we can’t impact, concentrate efforts on contingency building here.

We rounded off the talks with a live Q&A which further probed into these critical topics in different ways. Overall, it’s safe to say that it was a fantastic evening of insight and we look forward to 2020 already! Get in touch if you would like to find out about any additional strategy events.

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