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E18 - Stewards of the Future: Can and Should we Count on Boards to do the Right Thing?

Ep. 18

Increasingly, company boards are expected to incorporate environmental, social and governance issues into their strategic choices and performance criteria. How, exactly, should they do this? One approach is to integrate the entire costs/benefits of the firm’s activities, including those which are currently unpaid-for externalities, into its balance sheet. But is that really possible? Or, even desirable?


In this episode I discuss this issue – and others! – with my guest, Helle Bank Jorgensen. Helle is an internationally recognized expert on sustainable business practices, with a 30-year record of turning environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks into innovative and profitable business opportunities. She is the founder and chief executive of Competent Boards, which offers online climate and ESG programs that draw on the experience of over 150 renowned board members, executives, and investors.


Helle is also the author of the newly published book, Stewards of The Future: A Guide for Competent Boards. This book shows boards must have the insight and foresight to ask the right questions of management on complex issues such as climate change, ESG, corruption, cybersecurity, human trafficking and supply-chain resilience to realize long-term profits and sustainability.


Citations


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10/7/2022

E24 - Keeping Safe in a Digital World

Ep. 24
We have all become aware how important data is as everything becomes more digitalised. Data is everywhere – nearly our every moment and movement is recorded and stored. Connected devices offer more and more convenience. Our cars exchange information with our phones, which exchange information with our smart houses, which exchange information with our home computers,… and on and on. Without the digital exchange of information our personal and professional lives have become practically impossible. To be ‘disconnected’ is not really an option for most. But, the more connected we are, the more nodes in our network, the more we rely on digital exchanges, the more we are susceptible to cybercrimes.My guest for this episode, to discuss all things cybersecurity, is Todd Wade. Todd is a chief information security officer with over 20 years of experience working with cybersecurity and technology and the author of the recently published book, Cybercrime: Protecting your business, your family and yourself.He has led the information security departments for multiple financial services and technology organisations. He is passionate about championing cyber risk governance and empowering organisations to protect themselves against cybercriminals.Todd has worked with leading information security organisations like the Information Security Forum and Chartered Institute of Information Security and is currently an advisor to several cybersecurity start-ups, including the Cyber Risk Management Group and Scapien. And last, but certainly not least, he is a member of the Class of 2009 of TRIUM!Cited Work:Wade, T. (2022) Cybercrime: Protecting Your Business, Your Family and Yourself. London: BCS Learning and DevelopmentWhite, G. (2022) The Lazarus Heist: Based on the No 1 Hit Podcast. London: Penguin Business
8/8/2022

E23 - Synthetic Biology: We Need to Talk…

Ep. 23
We are at the start of a time when humans will be able to program cells and organisms in analogous ways to which we now program computers. Our technology and understanding of the basic structures of life, augmented by computer simulations driven by AI, are driving breakthrough innovations at an ever-increasing rate.What will this mean for us all? It could mean the end of most diseases and the actual process of aging. I could mean that the current existential risks of climate change and bio-diversity collapse could be removed. It could also mean that our exposure to the existential risks of bioterrorism grows exponentially. I could mean a radical new social class structure based on different access to, and use of human ability enhancements will generate political upheaval and violence. What is inarguably true, is that advances in our understanding and ability to manipulate biological systems will disrupt business, governance, culture and geopolitics in fundamental ways. This may not happen this year, or next, but make no mistake, the challenges are coming.Amy Webb, my guest for this episode, believes we desperately need to start these conversations now, while we still have some time to shape what the future will hold. Amy’s, and her co-author Andrew Hessel’s book, The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Ague of Synthetic Biology, is a wonderful, guided tour of synthetic biology’s past, present, and likely future. It is also a catalyst to the discussion about how we balance the risks and amazing promise of these innovations. As Amy says, the best way to understand this technology is that it gives us options which we have never had – how we choose amongst those options is what we need to think about now.Amy is a quantitative futurist and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the New York University Stern School of Business. Her research focuses on strategic foresight and using data to model probable, plausible and possible scenarios for the future. She was named to the Thinkers50 Radar list of the 30 management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and won the prestigious 2017 Thinkers50 RADAR Award for her research and work in strategic foresight. She is also the CEO and founder of the Future Today Institute, a leading strategic foresight and future forecasting firm that researches emerging technology on behalf of Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies, government agencies and financial institutions around the world. In addition to being a best-selling author of multiple books, Amy’s future forecasting work has been featured in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review and more.It was an absolute pleasure to discuss with Amy the issues raised in her book. It is unsurprising that so many people and organisations turn to her when they want a view of what our possible futures may be! Her knowledge is deep and her ability to communicate is exceptional – I hope you enjoy the conversation! Citations Bostrom, N. (2019) ‘The Vulnerable World Hypothesis,’ Global Policy 10:4.The Boys. Developed the Amazon Prime Video by Eric Kripke, based on a comic book of the same name, written by Garth Ennis and Darick Roberson.Huxley, A. (1932) Brave New World. Chatto and Windus.Niccol, A.(Director) (1998) Gattaca. Columbia Pictures and Jersey Films.Severance. Created by Dan Erickson, Apple TV+Webb, A. (2019) The Big Nine: How Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity. New York: Public Affairs.Webb, A. (2022) The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology. New York: Public Affairs.
6/2/2022

E22 - It’s All About the People

Ep. 22
What does being a fabulously successful, early stage VC investor have in common with being a world class CEO? The answer, according to Jihoon Rim, my guest for this episode, is the ability to select the right people and then, largely get out of their way and let them do their jobs.Jihoon, after a stint at Softbank, founded his own VC firm – Kcube Ventures – in 2012 with an initial fund of USD 10M. In 2021, when the fund was liquidated, it returned more than USD 1B. In 2015, Jihoon was appointed the CEO of Kakao. In the 2.5 years of his leadership, Kakao’s revenues and operating profits more than doubled (from USD 932M to USD 1.972B and USD 88M to USD 165M, respectively). Such successes led to Jihoon being recognised in 2017 Korea’s number 1 CEO (by Insight Korea), and in 2018 as one of Korea’s Top Ten Heros (by Maeil Broadcasting Network).He joined NYU’s Stern School of Business as an Adjunct Professor in 2019 where he teaches some of the most highly regarded elective courses in the entire School.  Between 2018 and 2022, he completed his Doctorate degree. This was all completed before he turned 43 years old.In this episode we discuss what Jihoon looked for when investing in founders and how he took the lessons from that world and applied them in his role as CEO of Kakao. We also discuss how people routinely misunderstand the nature and scope of tech companies’ powers – which he believes is too great, and how transparency will play a crucial role if we ever want to do something about this problem. Finally, we explore why Korean content has been so successful on the international entertainment stage.Jihoon is smart, articulate, highly accomplished and wonderfully humble. His candour and honesty in our discussion was refreshing. He is proof that wisdom does not need to rely on age. This episode is, in my mind, an exemplar of how a good leader sees the world and their role in it. Enjoy the conversation!CitationsFrans Johansson (2014) The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World. Penguin