I’ve been fortunate to attend this leadership conference on 5-6 May 2021 in Auckland. I realise many of you would be curious and like to know what was discussed so here is a summary of each talk I attended that includes the main point they made, more detailed overview, list of any key resources they mentioned and some reflections. Hope it helps! (Also: Day 2 is now summarised here.)
Sir Peter Gluckman, former Chief Science Advisor
Summary: We need a post Covid reset – this is an inflection point. But what will we do next?
Overview: Outlined issues arising from Covid and how response has gone (eg vaccine nationalism). Danger of returning to old ways in future, need to embrace new or old divisions will continue. Explore digital society but not just productivity aspect – all is not right with rampant poverty and negative cycles. Need to get away from partisan politics. Be honest on challenges. Lead change by private sector, academia rather than government. Boards tend to be narrow in shape – beyond ethnicity and gender.
Key resource: Koi Tū (Centre for Informed Learning) reports and papers: https://informedfutures.org/our-research/resources/ eg one called ‘social cohesion in a post Covid world’.
Reflection: Sobering start but good challenging thinking to take away particularly around importance of direction and not just thinking about profits or getting back to “normal” which will be wasted opportunity.
Regarding board diversity see this paper I co-wrote with Anne Rodda last year https://www.parryfield.com/tomorrows-board-diversity-the-role-of-creatives/
Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley – Demography expert
Summary: Demographic changes will change our future in ways we don’t discuss
Overview: Issues will affect a lot for future eg #1 declining fertility -> low fertility country so fewer people, #2 Ageing -> soon 25% will be over 65, in past less than 8% were over 65, # Regional stagnation -> 2/3 of regions will see populations decline and aging, #4 immigration grown but too reliant on it and large temporary population
Key resource: His book “The New New Zealand: Facing demographic disruption” here: https://www.masseypress.ac.nz/books/the-new-new-zealand/
Reflection: need to consider basic demographic changes – need to consider big picture of population issues and fact that Covid accelerated thinking about what future might be. Where do we get people from if a declining population?
Mitchell Pham on Tech and innovation trends
Summary: Tech accelerates digital transformation
Overview: Data is becoming the new gold do can a small place like NZ engage and interact with other places to collaborate. New Zealand could become known for tech expertise.
Key resource: Kiwi connection tech hub https://www.kiwiconnectiontechhub.com/
Reflection: Macro trends will impact how we operate, and tech is important to companies – so how will they prepare for the future? Are our Boards ready for some of the tech innovations which are coming or are we hiding away from them.
Panel discussing distressed Companies with Matt Prichard, Leon Bowker, Pip Dunphy, Fiona Oliver.
Summary: it’s getting harder to be a Director if a company in difficulty
Overview: Covered difficulty of defining when a company actually is solvent/insolvent. How collectable are receivables eg Mainzeal case not actually able to realise amounts showing. Key Directors duties triggered eg not to trade recklessly. Manage risks by: Assess how often meet, keep robust records to document reason for decisions, talk to stakeholders like bank, get advice early on, is exposure adequate, communication plan and develop plan for future, act early, get more information flowing,
Reflection: Be prepared to restructure if needed. Record all decisions well. Read up on recent cases of Mainzeal and Debut Homes and get outside support early if on a Board.
Catherine Ball on Emerging Technologies
Summary: Humans and automation and so many other new technologies – discussion of future innovation. A lot of energy in this presentation!
Overview: Who has a Risk committee? Many – but how about an innovation committee? Not so many … Technology is here and we need to embrace it, desígnate own corridors for new tech eg where drones go. Discussion of “explainable AI”, which describes how decisions are made – challenge assumptions of machines. “Your network is your net worth”. Be open to innovation and learning from others. Consider open source and socialisation of technology.
Key resource: https://www.drcatherineball.com/ and reference to the book “The Shallows” on how internet/tech is affecting how we think.
Reflection: Business needs to innovate and think about how they will adapt to the coming future. Key quote: “Tech is never the answer – it’s a tool to get the answer”.
Simon Milne on the future of Tourism
Summary: What will tourism be like after Covid?
Overview: Some predictions: pent up leisure demand will flow, return to old ways of doing tourism, business travel down as more done by zoom will impact eg airlines, sustainability more integrated, putting community well being first in tourist spots, for NZ strategy what will this be and how shape it?
Key resource: https://academics.aut.ac.nz/simon.milne
Reflection: Tourism strategy should develop in positive way – don’t go back to the old way of doing this – or will we do so?
Tom Barraclough & Curtis Barnes on Deep Fakes and synthetic media technologies
Summary: what will new technology mean for future of identity?
Overview: New tech makes it possible to make things seem real. But they are not. New effects are increasingly popular and affordable. Manipulated media could impact elections, and so much content online that computers can study to make it look real. But maybe it won’t happen – maybe there won’t be a deep fake video after all? Need to have checks and official lines of communication so clear what is real and what not.
Key resource: https://www.brainbox.institute/
Reflection: Technology makes new ways of presenting images and content – it us not all bad or good, but need to be aware of the issues – don’t be spooked, but it is happening here.
David Pilkington on Supply chain disruption
Summary: Supply chains are a key value driver for business – what will future hold for them?
Overview: Management of supply chain, the perfect storm of issues affecting supply, just in time delivery increasingly important, but need to get it right so products get to where they need to go.
Reflection: Need to consider how we get our products and become more efficient!
Joe Davis at the dinner on Silver Linings
Summary: A really fun presentation over dinner where former Seeds podcast guest Joe Davis shared his experiences of Covid and the resulting book
Overview: There was a lot of negative that came from Covid – but a lot of positive too. In this talk Joe explained some examples of things that actually went pretty well. This was the
Key resource: Silver linings book here.
Seeds podcast interview with Joe.
Reflection: I really enjoyed this session as it was a fun way to finish the day over dinner by listening to some good stories of things that have come out of Covid.
Hope that summary was helpful – check out part 2 here which has a summary of day two! Also if you enjoy this then check out seeds podcast which has 254 episodes – see how to access it above on the right and have pasted below some other free resources produced recently.
Partner at Parry Field Lawyers
Guide to Doing Business in New Zealand