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Day Two of the Fortune Global Forum brought more insights into how CEOs are navigating a year like no other—which is undercutting their financial health, accelerating their technological transformation, and demanding more action on social issues, all at the same time. Several of the CEOs referred to it as the “defining moment” of their careers. The key challenge they face, as Hilton’s Chris Nassetta put it, is: “How do we position ourselves to be better, faster, stronger….so that we turn the crisis into opportunity.” Some excerpts:
On the speed of change:
“This whole circle of change is coming faster and closer…The real differentiator of us as leaders is being able to navigate change.”
—Barbara Humpton, CEO, Siemens USA
More on the speed of change.
“This is a new world. We won’t go back to the old world, that’s just gone. So what do we do? Do we just wait? Or do we accelerate transformation?”
—Alexandre Dayon, Chief Strategy Officer, Salesforce
Why the crisis has led CEOs to increase their commitments to social issues.
“What COVID has done is expose underlying issues in the economy in an even more stark way. SMEs and service-oriented businesses which tend to employ more women and minorities have been more heavily impacted.”
—Ajay Banga, CEO, Mastercard
On the defining moment:
“It occurred to me in early March that this was going to be my defining moment as CEO…How do we make sure we do the harder right, rather than the easier wrong?”
—Chip Bergh, CEO, Levi Strauss
More on the defining moment:
“This is truly the mother of all defining moments…In previous defining moments, if as a business leader you came out with the top and bottom line intact, that was defined as good enough. Now that is no longer good enough. People want to see that you’re making a positive contribution to some of these societal issues.”
—Mark Schneider, CEO, Nestlé
On the importance of reskilling:
“Every organization needs now to recommit to reskilling as a competency of their organization. I am still surprised by how many organizations still don’t have a reskilling competency, and I’m hopeful this moment will change that.”
—Liz Hilton Segel, Managing Partner, North America, McKinsey
More on reskilling.
“We see many companies today, on the one hand, laying off, restructuring, and at the same time hiring new people. It’s quite strange. What we say is it is much cheaper and much more socially responsible to look at your own workforce and look at the people you can upskill and reskill and make that investment.”
—Alain Dehaze, CEO, Adecco
On work from home and innovation:
“Our patent applications are down 50%.”
—Greg Hayes, CEO, Raytheon Technologies
On testing at airplane gates:
“It’s probably the only way we will get international travel back.”
—Ed Bastian, CEO, Delta
On empathy as a leader.
“One of the things that has been a silver lining, through Zoom and other contacts, we’ve actually become closer to our people and closer to their daily lives. All of our leaders have a better sense of the day to day lives of our employees.”
—Jim Fitterling, CEO, Dow
How the crisis has broken down business hierarchies:
“All the social codes of leadership have kind of all disappeared. We are all little pictures on Zoom.”
—Alexandre Dayon, Chief Strategy Officer, Salesforce
“Capitalism and capital markets could in a few years be more embraced in China than in the United States.”
—Ray Dalio, founder, Bridgewater Associates
On the wait for a vaccine:
“We have already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, and reequipped five manufacturing sites around the world. We will be ready if the FDA approves the vaccine…We have committed to the US government to provide this year 30 million to 40 million doses.” By the end of the first quarter “we will have 100 million doses.” (The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses per person.)”
—Albert Bourla, CEO, Pfizer
On navigating crises:
“Keep your eye on the prize. Play the long game.”
—Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England & Bank of Canada
More news below.
The CEOs of over 500 companies ranging from Gap, Tyson Foods and Starbucks to Deloitte, Pepsi and Dow Chemical have issued a joint statement calling for safe access to the polls next week, the recognition of state and local election officials as the trusted source for certified results, and "patience as officials count every vote." Many of the firms have committed to giving staff time off to go vote. Civic Alliance
Visa and Plaid
Visa's $5.3 billion takeover of fintech firm Plaid has raised the alarm at the U.S. Justice Department, which is reportedly mulling an antitrust suit that would block the purchase. The department is apparently worried about the deal limiting new competition in the payments sector. Wall Street Journal
Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, will quadruple its 5% stake in Aston Martin over the next three years. As part of the deal, the struggling U.K. automaker will get to use Mercedes-Benz's next-gen hybrid and electric powertrains and other components. The German giant has had its 5% stake in Aston Martin since 2013. Deutsche Welle
The Berlin-based food-delivery firm Delivery Hero was the one star performer on Germany's DAX today, with shares rising as much as 5% on extremely healthy results. Most of the DAX was a sea of red this morning, though, in line with the rest of Europe's stock markets—fresh national lockdowns are probably looming in Germany and France. U.S. futures aren't looking pretty, either. Fortune
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
Apple is building up its in-house search capacity, in a likely hedge against U.S. antitrust regulators cracking down on its multibillion-dollar search deal with Google. Apple's own search results have been quietly given greater prominence in iOS 14, the latest version of its iPhone operating system. Notably, Apple poached Google's search chief, John Giannandrea, a couple years back. Financial Times
The freight industry would dearly love to finish developing the software that will be needed to help transport companies submit their post-Brexit customs paperwork digitally—as opposed to doing it manually at the border, thus slowing everything down—but it can't, because the British government still hasn't provided the necessary details and direction. This software will be crucial in a mere two months' time, when the Brexit transition period ends. BBC
Will we know the results of the U.S. election a week from now? Deeply unlikely. As Fortune's Nicole Goodkind writes: "We’ll likely have a good idea of who will be taking the seat in the Oval Office by the end of election week. But until then, it will be up to already overburdened local elections offices and politicians to communicate disparities effectively to the press and American people, and they’ll potentially be speaking up against the wishes and voices of the well-oiled White House press shop." Fortune
Angela Denker, a pastor and author, writes for Fortune that American Christians made a cynical choice in 2016 because "they figured if everyone was lying, at least they could elect a liar who claimed he’d lie for them." But now, she says, the pandemic has shown people wanting to be better: "Most people want to love each other, not hate each other…We agreed, millions of us, including those who voted for Trump in 2016, that this time we’d tune out the cynicism so that maybe we could hear the love and keep our lives." Fortune
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.