Global Shifts: Navigating the New Dynamics


Australian Leadership Retreat 2016
Anton Roux, Chief Executive Officer, ADC Forum


Building on last year’s discussion on ‘thinking the unthinkable’, the Australian Leadership Retreat this year will focus on how we find new opportunities and lead through this new era of rapid social and technological change, and shifting geopolitical landscape.

There are seismic strategic shifts taking place in our region, as Asian economies slow and the world pivots towards the Asia-Pacific. Bilateral relationships are being tested as Russia more aggressively pursues its interests, and China projects its influence further south and east. Realignments of regional economic and political influence offer great opportunities, but also heighten the risk that ‘unthinkable’ economic or security confrontations materialise, with serious repercussions for the stability of our region.

Recent events, such as the European migration crisis and the collapse of global oil prices, have proved that we live in an age in which unexpected events with far-reaching consequences manifest with increasing regularity. Turmoil in financial markets continues, nearly a decade after the global financial crisis, with the world’s central banks increasingly running out of options.

At the same time, technology advances such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence are reshaping industries and professions, changing the nature of work and fundamentally challenging the foundations of advanced economies. Borderless, digital commerce is opening up new opportunities for the highly skilled and innovative, at the same time as it disrupts established business models and even the institutions, such as banks, which have till now been pillars of economic growth.

This age of deep flux, across almost every aspect of human endeavour, poses deep challenges to leaders in business and in public office. Many in society are struggling with the economic and social impacts of change, and are dissatisfied with political responses. There is a popular backlash against the established political classes which is visible in European, British, and especially US politics. Some might claim this is Heideggerian in nature, a declamation again liberal universalism that explains in part both Russian political discourse and Iran’s. Business leaders in turn are seeing the rigidity of established large corporate structures – once a source of strength and stability – increasingly become an impediment to the agility and innovation needed to survive disruptive new technologies and rapidly evolving consumer demands.

It is our response to these fundamental challenges which will define our futures. It is the responsibility of leadership in both the public and private spheres not only to embrace reality but to anticipate and mitigate them, its challenges, but to find in them the integrated approaches and opportunities to better our nation and world; to both affirm human dignity and guide enabling technologies; to lead through them strategically with a sense of hope and opportunity. To respect each of the humanistic, rational, and empirical aspects of our collective capacities and outlooks, not letting the imbalances of bias distort and disable our future policies or undercut our opportunities, as we now recognise ideology has done. Uncertainty calls for philosophical reflection, balanced forecasting and courageous action to seize our civilisational potential and economic growth, however that may become measured.

The Australian Leadership Retreat is our region’s premier gathering of leaders. For 20 years, ADC Forum has been bringing together leaders and top thinkers from across politics, business, and academia, to focus on the major strategic issues facing our nation and our world. Every year, Leadership Retreat attendees are exposed to deep, frank insights from globally renowned experts from Australia and abroad, shared openly in a private and confidential setting.

International participants this year include Zhu Min, Deputy Managing Director of the IMF; Joe Schoendorf, of leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel Partners; Martin Wolf, Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator for the Financial Times; Dr David Bloom, Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard; Dr Mahmood Sariolghalam, Professor of International Relations at the National University of Iran; Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University; and many more, addressing economic, security, and technology related issues and opportunities. The international experts will be joined by a range of Australian federal and state political figures, corporate chief executives, and senior university academics, to understand the implications of global shifts for Australian interests; and how Australian leaders can navigate through them.

The Australian Leadership Retreat is an invitation-only event taking place from 20-22 May on Hayman Island. For more information please contact ADC Forum.