Value of Virtual in Rearchitecting the New Economy

On 5th of June, an initiative that started with a small group of committed MBA alumni in Germany passionate about understanding the role of business as a force for good went 100% virtual in an experiment of resilience, purpose and consecration to meaningful contribution of industry to society.

Given the uncertain future of networking events, we did not take long to come to consensus there was never a better time to take the dialogues on Tech for good and the Future of Food to next level.

To reflect on COVID learnings, we facilitated industry- focused discussions on the opportunity to break from the past and understand what was broken how we could consider re-writing the playbook for Automotive, Retail, Travel, Financial Services, Human Resources.
Zooming in and out of friendly, open break-out discussions, we easily came together across cities to reach new insights:

Auto moderated by Konstantin Drozhdin, EMBA’16Dec:
Impact: Covid affirms the industry that traditional car segment growth will not continue. This will mean more govt and financial support for green. Case: rise in public mobility services, less flights, more local travel. Conclusion: Good time to evolve and seek govt support in energy sector, effective models, eg: consolidation.

Fashion/Retail moderated by Shruti Veenam, MBA’14J:
The fashion industry is one of the most negatively impacted sectors with 30-40% decline in global sales due to Covid. Reasons: lack of social interaction leads to opportunities for self expression. Impact: Fashion brands were already on the way to being sustainable, but Covid reinforces the need for brands to adopt sustainable practices (transparent supply chains, purpose driven genuine brands, balance local vs. global). Consumers will seek balance in consumption and stick to purpose driven brands. Case: Perfume brands shifted to use their perfumeries to make hand sanitizer, such acts only as branding will not work any longer. Conclusion: Fashion brands do not have a choice any longer but to become sustainable to keep customers. The winners will be those who change fastest.

Food moderated by Kelsey Hudspeth:
Impact: We predict an accelerated interest in health eating, local production and cooking at home, particularly sharing among the family. Reasons: This change in habits, prompted also by delivery services will create new opportunities for home delivery of meals to be cooked at home. Unfortunately it also exposed how food production at scale, without means for community level distribution, and exposed a a broken supply chain: Case: Milk dumping in the US, restaurant food donations.

Finance moderated by Michael S. Duesberg AMP’04 March:
While money is the life blood of the economy, despite limited structural change, trends with cashless, digital and fintech are affirmed. Impact: Extreme wealth and poverty disparity are made visible and seek justice More in our next event “Money as a Force for Good” and virtual coffee chat June 15th on Fintech start up Sparo.

Travel moderated by Johannes zu Eltz, MBA’00D:
Will hotels and property continue to be sustainably repurposed, as we saw with healthcare workers? Conclusion: Travel will not rebound to the same level quickly as people enjoy time with family and realize how much can be done online.

HR/CSR moderated by Moneshia zu Eltz, MBA’00D:
Some of us started our freelance/consulting work with clients online during covid, which emphasized importance of trust. Conclusion: We discussed how to established trust using more technology and how seeing into peoples “personal” home office was a window into humanity. HR rose to the occasion by providing value in areas not often visible and have more influence on leadership with how we communicate with each other and treat each other.

In summary, the group moved away with firm resolve to do more with less, and moving forward quickly with the transformation we know is needed for a more just society and healthy planet. Could this be the beginnings of re-envisioning sustainable abundance? The group voted to continue the dialogue, and with that we look forward to seeing you soon at our next forum on Money as a Force for Good.

IAAG Business & Society Team