The thread running through all of the Global Leaders Talks has been that there is no way around the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are many ways through this crisis. The talks brought together experienced entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, and many more. Over 600 attendees joined virtually from over 40 different countries and speakers came from the US, China, Guatemala, Slovenia, India, and Italy.
The series kicked-off on April 8th with a talk by serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman. Since it was still early in the crisis, he suggested entrepreneurs first take inventory of their and their teams’ skills and resources. Then they should outline problems in their community due to COVID-19 and match their skills to solve these problems. He presented a framework called the “3 Rs: Repurpose, Retool, and Redeploy” for how entrepreneurs could weather the storm.
In the second installment on April 23rd, Co-founder and CEO of CEED’s parent company SEAF, Bert van der Vaart, spoke with George Zhang, one of SEAF’s Managing Directors who is based in Chengdu. George began by offering a perspective from China on how the shutdown had affected the economy and expectations of a recovery. Then he and Bert spoke about how the pandemic was affecting SEAF portfolio companies and what investors could be doing in this time to support their entrepreneurs.
On May 6th, Juan Fermin, founder and CEO of Kingo Energy based in Guatemala, offered his perspective on the effects of supply chain shortages and the potential for raising capital with a global financial crisis looming. He answered questions from CEED members about how companies in the manufacturing and energy sectors, in particular, could navigate the quickly evolving changes in supply chains.
Building off of the concrete advice offered in the earlier talks, on May 20th CEED welcomed Maria Anselmi, the Group Director of Data in Bisnode (Dun & Bradstreet), to speak. Maria is based in Switzerland but has been directing a remote team spread across multiple countries long before the pandemic even started. She shared practical advice on how to manage a team in the virtual world.
The next speaker, John Kuruvilla, the Co-founder and CRO of Kalpanik Technologies based in India, shared his experience working with colleagues in some of the hardest-hit sectors like tourism on how they could find new opportunities in the midst of the crisis. His talk’s theme harkened back to that of Jeff Hoffman. He suggested entrepreneurs could find new channels for growth by looking at what the new world order needs and seeing how their existing products, teams, and infrastructure could be adapted to address the challenges.
The most recent talk on June 17th was given by Riccardo Illy. His perspective as the Chairman of Polo del Gusto in the gourmet foods sector based in Italy was particularly timely as things begin to reopen. He shared his thoughts on what the post-pandemic global economy might look like on both a macroeconomic scale and that of a business owner. Mr. Illy proposed that this economic decline and recovery will look something like the Nike swoop symbol, a steep recession followed by slow but steady growth. So, he suggested businesses and entrepreneurs would need to be making strategic changes not just to survive the immediate crisis but to succeed in the long recovery ahead.
The Global Leaders Talk series has been an exciting learning opportunity for CEED to experiment with facilitating virtually the types of meaningful connections and peer-to-peer learnings that are the heart of our in-person services at the centers. We’re excited to continue building on the events’ success again in the Fall when we will pick back up the talk series and add some global networking events.