An Interview with Glenn Williams | The World Business Forum, Sydney

At the end of May, 2014, Glenn Williams attended the World Business Forum in Sydney which promotes itself as “a source of inspiration, learning and transformation for leaders looking to build better businesses and a better world.”
Recently, I sat down with Glenn to learn exactly what was on offer at the WBF and any insights he may have gleaned from his travels.

Recently you attended the World Business Forum in Sydney. Is this the first time you’ve attended?

Glenn: Yes, this was the first time I attended one of the WBF events. It was also the first time it came to Australia.

A number of high profile speakers were engaged at the event. Was there a speaker that stood out for you?

Glenn: Michael Porter, the godfather of strategy, was the speaker I most wanted to hear going into the event. He developed the core ideas on strategy that I studied during my MBA and that have stood the test of time. One of the event organisers I spoke to at the event likened him to a rock star of the business world. It was a highlight to hear the man behind the ideas bring them to life in a live, face-to-face environment.

However, the speaker that I found most relevant to my work in helping successful people drive innovation as they navigate change was Gary Hamel. Gary is of Swiss origins and an animated, passionate presenter. His talk focused on how to win in a world of relentless change, ferocious competition and unstoppable innovation. These are subjects I have been researching and am writing about in my forthcoming book “Adapt”. I am now reading Gary’s most recent book entitled “What Matters Now”.

Finally, an honourable mention must go to kiwi born Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. I used Saatchi & Saatchi as the creative agency for a company I lead in France and respect their work. Kevin is a great speaker and entertainer. It was good to have a prominent speaker of local origin amongst the international line up. Kevin shared some deeply engaging and amusing stories for developing creative leadership in organisations.

Was there a core message or idea that was delivered at the forum?

Glenn: The line-up of speakers was well sequenced, flowing from creativity, to strategy, on to big data, through to leadership, then innovation, followed by execution, on to social media culminating in high performance.

Anything that you might not have particularly agreed with?

Glenn: John Howard spoke on the subject of the global economic future. His presentation was a bit out of place and lacked the substance other speakers brought to their presentations. I appreciated his perspective but it seemed like a momentary diversion from the otherwise streamlined progression of ideas across the two day event.

How can the messages and ideas conveyed at the forum be implemented in business?

Glenn: An immersion experience like the world business forum plants a diverse variety of seeds in the minds and hearts of participants. To some extent, it floods your senses with new ideas, helps join the dots between some of your existing ideas and stimulates you to respond in new and innovative ways to the way the world around you is changing. Like a degustation menu, I imagine it exposed people to concepts that they had not had a taste of before. This may then lead them to pick up one or more speaker’s books and engage more deeply with how to learn and apply new disciplines in their own organisation.

Any new technological advances we should be looking out for?

Glenn: Randi Zuckerberg (yes, Mark’s sister) spoke about her amazing adventure of being involved in the early days of building Facebook. She spoke about the power of social media, showcasing a diverse array of stories about how technology is revolutionising the way we live and how business needs to adapt its approach to building ecosystems.

Would attending the WBF be beneficial for any of nLIVEn’s clients?

Glenn: Definitely.

Would you attend the WBF again?  What kind of individual do you think would benefit from the WBF?

Glenn: Yes. However, the line-up for 2015 for the next Australian event is more Sales & Marketing specific. I was attracted to the calibre and breadth of speakers and disciplines covered off. As such, I might opt to attend one of the other WBF events in the USA or Europe rather than the one scheduled for Melbourne in 2015.

– Jesse Falk, June 2014


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