The USC Global Conference plenary panel on “The Future of Business in a Global World,” organized and moderated by USC trustee Ronnie Chan, drew the attention of regional media interested in the views of some of the most influential minds of the business world in Asia.
The panelists included one of the most recent additions to the USC Board of Trustees, Chengyu Fu, chairman of China Petrochemical Corp., Asia’s largest oil refiner.
Highly regarded in the energy industry, Fu is a USC alumnus with a master’s degree in petroleum engineering. Also on the panel were David Eldon, senior adviser at PricewaterhouseCoopers and chairman of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited; Frank Ning, chairman, COFCO Corp.; P. Chandran Nair, founder and chief executive officer of Global Institute for Tomorrow and chairman of Avantage Ventures.
A spirited debate took place during the event as the speakers discussed the potential limitations of a consumption-based economy and what models would be sustainable (both environmentally and economically) over the long term for markets in Asia and the United States.
The panel discussion followed a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman, whose latest book, That Used To Be Us, addresses the very topic of globalization and the “flattening” of the global economy.
“As the world gets hyperconnected, the entire global workplace gets graded on a curve,” Friedman told a packed ballroom. “This requires everyone to raise their game. It is fundamentally changing the labor market, and it effects education. People who have problem-solving and critical-thinking skills – scientists, engineers, teachers, professors, writers, songwriters, surgeons and hopefully journalists – people with nonroutine skills will do fine. Workers with skills that can be outsourced, digitized, automated – routine skills – they are getting crushed.”