Observations on Leadership and Planet Earth

02/12/2009

“The U.S. will remain the world’s dominant economy for the next 20 years,” said Shumeet Banerji, CEO of Booz & Company, “but there is a dramatic change of circumstances out there, and the world will look quite different in the next 20 to 30 years.” 

Over the span of his 17-year career with the global management consulting firm, Banerji has observed major shifts in the world order, as he travels regularly to meet with clients in both the public and private sector around the globe. During his talk in the Abbott Center Auditorium, which formed part of the Darden School of Business Leadership Speaker Series, he shared “observations from traveling around Planet Earth,” as well as his “Top Ten tips on leadership.”

“In the future, the U.S. and Europe will need to compete on capabilities,” said Banerji. Unlike the booming, emerging economies of India, China and Brazil, the U.S. and Europe no longer have demographics on their side. And the recession has hit them hard, said Banerji, as they grapple with the financial fallout and what he calls “a crisis of ideology.” “The question now is, ‘What sets of relations between states and companies will drive the future?’”

The U.S. and Europe must tackle a dramatic escalation of government debt, less credit and the impact of deleveraging. “Europe cannot afford Europe over the next 20 years,” he said. “It has offered social benefits that it can’t pay for.”

Meanwhile, favorable demographics and growth rates continue to be “the fundamental drivers of the world.”

“Asia already accounts for 20 percent of the world GDP, and there is sustainable growth there for the next 10 years.”

What this means for executives, says Banerji, is that global careers will become even more important. Following are his Top Ten tips on building a career:

1.      Pay attention to human capital. Who are you?

2.      Get and feed a network.

3.      Find mentors. No one is good enough to sort it out on his or her own.

4.      Seek diverse experiences. Challenge yourself.

5.      Be curious about the world and its issues.

6.      Be interested. Be interesting.

7.      Form a distinctive point of view.

8.      Read.

9.      Look after yourself. Strive for a mind-body balance.

10.  Make time for the people you love and those who love you.

Banerji, who taught at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business before joining Booz & Company, told students, “I know it’s difficult out there, but recessions can create great opportunities.” He added: “At Booz, we think some of the most exciting stuff will happen in solar panels and storage. … Whole generations of careers will be made in alternative energy.”

Founded in 1955, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business improves society by developing principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.

For additional information, contact communication@darden.virginia.edu.

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