ABB at WEF 2017: leadership and employment in times of digital revolution

A strategic partner with WEF, ABB plays a leading role in the high-level annual event in Davos.

As the 2017 World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, draws to a close, we can look back on a week that saw ABB demonstrate that it is in the driving seat when it comes to the theme of this year’s meeting: “responsible and responsive leadership”

WEF is an invaluable occasion to meet and share ideas with Government leaders, customers and partners in one small alpine village. One of the big stories this year was the presence of China’s President Xi Jinping, the first time a Chinese president has come to Davos. ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer was one of a select group of business leaders to meet with President Jinping on Monday in the Swiss capital Bern, and outline ways the company can help China on its goals toward greater development and the decarbonization of its economy.

Later in the week,a Chinese trade delegation visited ABB’s Zurich HQ to find out how ABB innovations such as the Gas Insulated Switchgear can make a big difference when it comes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Davos was also the setting for a major announcement concerning our state of the art new Canada HQ in Montréal. Underlining ABB’s commitment to sustainable development, ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer was joined by the Canadian Ministers for Commerce and for Innovation, Ambassador to Switzerland Jennifer McIntyre and the Prime Minister of Quebec, to announce a 90 million Canadian dollar investment, and the establishment of a Center of excellence for e-mobility.

The centerpiece of the event was ABB’s own event, “Leadership and employment in times of digital revolution”. A packed room full of high profile business leaders, government representatives and partners saw Ulrich Spiesshofer deliver a positive and thought-provoking speech on the subject, evoking a bright future brought about by automation and digital transformation.

He was joined on stage by David Autor, an MIT professor of economics and one of the world’s leading authorities on how the digital transformation is changing employment. Autor flew out from the US to be with us and share his vision of the way automation and technology have consistently improved living standards and created more jobs (and better jobs).

ABB is already preparing its employees for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, through its many apprenticeship schemes and continuous learning programs, both in developed countries and emerging market economies, as we show in the above video. On the last day of the WEF, ABB underscored its commitment to a “future ready” workforce, by joining the Global Apprenticeship Network, a coalition of committed companies, international organizations and business and employers’ federations who create work-readiness programs for youth and foster skills for business.

This year, ABB showed that WEF is a place where ideas are hatched and decisions made that will affect all of us.

Categories and Tags
About the author

Conor Lennon

Formerly a broadcaster and communications consultant, I am currently based in Zurich as Global Special Projects Manager for ABB. I like to write about issues surrounding technology, sustainable development and society.
Comment on this article