My main takeaways from my experience @ the WEF Annual Meeting of the New Champions

Global Shapers attending the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China

Precisely two months ago, I was catching a plane to the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China. This was a trip of many “firsts”. First time in China, first time in Asia and first time in an official World Economic Forum Event.

The expectations were very high, but it’s always hard to predict what’s going to happen at these events. You can schedule meetings, look at the sessions and select the ones that you want to attend, read about the different topics, but the most interesting things are the ones that happen in between. That casual meeting with someone truly amazing, that unprompted business meeting, the late night conversations and of course, the parties.

Reflecting on the event, there are a few ideas that stuck with me:

1. An obvious one is the 4th Industrial Revolution. In preparation for the event, I read Professor Schwab’s book on the topic and it still amazes me the changes that are happening in the world. The discussions that we had at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions were less about technology and more about the impact it’s going to have and how companies and governments can better prepare themselves for what’s coming.

2. Self-improvement was another big topic at the event. I went to several sessions where the discussions were about finding ways (natural and nonnatural) to get better and the ethical implications of that decision. I found fascinating the discussions around mindfulness and what can do for us, as individuals and as organisations. I came back home curious to explore this topic further.

3. I was really impressed by the Chinese startup scene. I found a booming number of startups and investors and after a few conversations you have the same feeling you have in Silicon Valley: Everyone seems to be working on a startup. There are also 3 companies that are enormous and most people don’t know about: Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent (WeChat). It’s easy to dismiss these companies as copycats, but they are innovation engines, with millions (sometimes billions) of users and an example to any Western company.

Finally, something that is truly unbelievable it’s the people you meet. Besides everyone at the event, I had the opportunity to meet 59 Global Shapers from all around the world and be inspired by their work, energy and enthusiasm. We are all different, but we share lots of the same values, goals and ambitions. Events like the Annual Meeting of the New Champions make me feel even more grateful for being part of such an amazing community.

Check the Global Shapers website for more details on the community.