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The Conversation – March Edition



Welcome to the March edition of The Conversation.

We are grateful for a contribution from Professor of International Finance and Business at Columbia University, Hans W. Decker, who explores the traits global leaders need in order to help their organisations be more resilient.

Deborah Ritchie from CIR Magazine and James Wood from the Global Risk Institute weigh in on the risks associated with the new business reality in our “In Focus” section. You can also read about our latest company news.

A Word from our Founder

In case you were in any doubt, the General Election campaign is now in full swing. With the prospect of one of the most fragmented parliaments of recent times looming, the leaders of the traditional parties and the political ‘challenger brands’ are hard at work on honing their messages and competing for share of voice.

In our May Perspective we’ll be taking a close look at what the new Government will have in store, but for now we’re looking at how executives can lead their companies in an age of increased scrutiny and hyper-transparency.

There are of course many reasons why businesses need to focus on being more resilient, collaborative and better at fostering skills within their organisations, but perhaps the most important one comes from a recent Forbes study. Companies with strong leadership qualities are six times more likely to be among the top 20 financial performers of all organisations. Additionally, those boasting high levels of leader engagement and retention, as well as leadership quality, are nine times more likely to outperform their peers financially.

Leadership is not a new concept, but it seems it is critical to navigate the new normal.

Client News

everyLIFE Technologies

We’ve recently started working with healthcare technology start-up everyLIFE Technologies, to raise awareness of its PASSsystem software.

By replacing paperwork, the PASSsystem is set to revolutionise the healthcare industry, beginning with homecare. It enables care workers to access the most up-to-date patient information on a smartphone or tablet, and to upload visit reports to the database in real-time, doing away with forms, backlogs and inaccuracies.

Currently being used by care providers across England, we are working with everyLIFE Technologies to tell the PASSsystem story to the right people. We’re thrilled to be supporting this innovation as we firmly believe it has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of care received by those requiring it.

AssetGen Partners

We have also welcomed energy-from-waste developer AssetGen to the Sermelo family.

Working with a range of partners – including the Green Investment Bank – AssetGen has turned a concept for the UK’s largest commercial and industrial waste-to-energy plant into reality.

Our role was to communicate the innovation involved in the project, and showcase the positive returns that the £60 million investment has been projected to yield. A pioneering project, we developed and told the story to media and stakeholders.

Sermelo News

We are thrilled to announce two new additions to our ever growing team, Bhakti Gajjar and Caterina Serenelli. With their varied backgrounds and expertise they further strengthen our capabilities as we continue to win new business across different market sectors.

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The new face of leadership in uncertain times

A viewpoint by Hans W. Decker, Professor in International Finance and Business, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

There is little doubt that the concept of leadership continues to morph. While the value of good leaders remains as important as ever, the context of leadership continues to be transformed by the flattening and shrinking forces of globalization. Today’s leaders must learn how to deal with continual, rapid and uncertain change. Managing change does not always mean controlling it, rather, it implies understanding it, adapting to it where necessary, and guiding it whenever possible.

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The Forum

The theme of this year's World Economic Forum at Davos was "New Global Context."

Deborah Ritchie, Editor, CIR Magazine

What do you think is(are) the most important skill(s) that today’s business leaders need to navigate this new reality?

To succeed in today’s business environment, business leaders must acknowledge the value of an effective risk management programme; one that fully protects commercial assets through a combination of continuity, risk management and insurance. This is what will underpin tomorrow’s resilient operations – regardless of where they are located, what their core business is, or what they singularly identify as their key risks. This is because this approach enables business leaders to highlight, monitor and manage all identified risks on a continual basis.

In your opinion, what is the single biggest risk that companies face today?

Thinking there is one single biggest risk is a pretty big risk in itself. While it is important to think about cyber risk, political risks and supply chain risk – all of which are among the most recent headline-hitters in our own news pages – they should not distract from other potential risks.

Business risks obviously vary from sector to sector, but if I had to point to a couple of emerging risks that look likely to have an impact on a wide range of industries in the foreseeable future, that would be “internet of things”-related risks and the creeping risks behind other innovations, like nanotechnology, which promises as much unprecedented opportunity as it does risk. And of course reputational risk in a social media world.

It will be interesting to see how regulation develops in these arenas, to create environments that at the same time safeguard development and prevent misuse.

Given the uncertainty and multiple risks that businesses face in this “new global context,” how can they remain resilient in the future?

Resilient businesses are those that are able to withstand inevitable knocks that come from a wide array of places, given the growing interconnectivity of risks – and not just in the sense of IT infrastructure, but through supply chains, fall-out from natural catastrophe, or simply fire and flood. With all the talk of complex and highly interconnected risks at the global level, one could be forgiven for forgetting that apparently mundane risks such as flooding or fire, are still among the main causes for business disruption today.

On the upside, I know of risk programmes in some organisations that are central to the organisation’s strategy – that breathe resilience throughout the organisation, position their people and processes ahead of the competition, and give their customers and stakeholders assurance and confidence – enabling them not just to withstand shocks, but also to innovate, the need for which is undeniable – whichever sector you’re looking at.

James Wood, Managing Director, Member Relations & Communications, Global Risk Institute

What do you think is(are) the most important skill(s) that today’s business leaders need to navigate this new reality?

A very good crystal ball – time and again I hear uncertainty about the direction the world economy is headed in when I speak with business and political leaders. In the main, the capacity to navigate in a multi-polar world will become increasingly important over the next twenty years: international experience, multi-cultural awareness and language skills other than English, which is a necessity, will be at a premium in any role – together with the ability to develop strategy and execute to the best possible degree.

In your opinion, what is the single biggest risk that companies face today?

Reputational risk does come up very frequently in our discussions with members; cyber risk, and in particular the risks posed by fraud in the on-line economy, would be another major risk companies face. The ingenuity of some criminal organisations is impressive to say the least.

Given the uncertainty and multiple risks that businesses face in this “new global context,” how can they remain resilient in the future?

As always, preparation: access to the best possible (i.e. most accurate and reliable) data, and the creation of accurate forecasting models from that data that are adequately tested and validated. These factors, together with the recognition that the geo-political environment is at its most volatile for decades, would be key factors in any businesses’ resilience planning. More sophisticated data management and mining techniques allow for highly accurate analysis – and no company should be without these data sets, or analysts competent to interrogate them.

Out and About

British American Business – Tech Trends in 2015

At a recent event, we were able to get a closer look at the technology trends expected to drive activity this year.

British American Business – UK General Elections: Outlook and Predictions

At the end of January, we attended an event that was hosted by British American Business, the leading transatlantic business organisation. The event sought to predict the UK’s general election results on May 7. Panellists answered questions about a possible future coalition government, what issues would be key in the campaign, and the role of regionalism.

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Sermelo News


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