Those Davos nights
Piano bars. Drinking. Bobsledding. Karaoke... The World Economic Forum may be ‘committed to improving the state of the world’, but for many, next week’s meeting in Switzerland will mark a priceless networking opportunity, reports Trends.
January 23, 2010 12:04 by Liz Peek
While the programs draw praise from most visitors, it is access to an extraordinary group of people that is perhaps the real drawing card. Rubenstein says: “Your jaw drops when you see all the prominent people on the list.”
Attendees are from all over the world. Hormats says: “There are always a lot of Middle Eastern leaders; you can end up staying up late after a dinner talking about issues with Saudis, in a way not possible elsewhere.”
Some Americans especially value the opportunity to meet with Middle Easterners. Rubenstein, whose business takes him frequently to the Arab world, says that “since 9/11 more people from the Middle East have visa problems and are embarrassed at how they are treated in the U.S.” Hence, they shy away from visiting the U.S. and instead travel to Davos, a boon to Americans or Europeans hoping to do business in the region.
Greg Fleming, former president of Merrill Lynch, attended Davos from 2003 until last year. He, too, is a fan. “I always had a very positive view of Davos,” he says. “There are very important people from all walks of life – business, environmental, political, and social. For a company like Merrill, it was very valuable to see dozens of significant clients from all over the world in just a few days. It’s generally a very good use of time – especially once it became ‘The Event’.”
Fleming found the program at Davos especially interesting and useful when he took over management of Merrill’s environmental group. Through the panel discussions he quickly got up to speed on current developments in the field. “One year they had a debate on emissions controls. The different perspectives between developed and developing countries on who needed to move first on reducing emissions were fascinating.”