November 10, 2016
World Economic Forum: An opportunity to look at the bigger picture
By: Larissa Cantanho

What attracted me to my MBA course at INSEAD was the opportunity to immerse myself in innovation. With this came the opportunity to intern with Accenture, one of the most leading-edge consulting firms that exist today. The Accenture Strategy project was fascinating and culminated in a visit to the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos. This was a privilege I just couldn’t turn down.

Taking part in the world economic forum

The project I worked on at Accenture was undoubtedly the most impactful one I’ve been involved with during my time at business school. It was a very intense program and required an enormous time commitment. However, it was 1,000 percent worth it!

My main focus within the project was digital enterprise, which included new business models, innovative operating models, KPIs for the digital enterprise and the evolution and application of digital talent within the workforce. This involved immersion in case studies, research and discussion with the Accenture team. It was such an inspiring experience in which to be involved, helping to aggregate the information and put together the final deliverables, a microsite and executive summary for Accenture to present to the CxOs at WEF’s annual conference at Davos.

Small space, big ideas

I think it’s phenomenal that we have a forum where world business leaders come together to discuss the issues at hand. I’d heard a lot about the conference during my time working in Silicon Valley and I had always wanted to participate. It was an honor to be there.

What surprised me the most was how interaction at WEF’s conference is channelled toward impact. Davos is a small city, and the conference event area is even smaller. That creates a great opportunity for spontaneous conversation, allowing people to discuss important issues and how these issues come together in a globalized, interdependent world. Many of these serendipitous interactions in Davos plant the seeds for international corporate, governmental and charitable initiatives and partnerships.

It was inspiring to hear what these respected thought leaders had to say about technology and innovation growth. A lot of people there were veterans of the nonprofit, business or technology worlds, so having exposure to them and gaining a moment of their attention was a unique opportunity. They were really interested to hear what we, the interns, were doing there as well, and enthusiastically included us in the conversation.

We also spent a lot of time visiting the booths at the conference. For me personally, one of the most interesting was The Girls’ Lounge. They talked about women in the workforce, women in technology and the future of women in business and politics. I found the speakers there engaging, including Carolyn Everson, the VP of global marketing solutions at Facebook, and Shelley Zalis, who founded The Girls’ Lounge.

A wider view of the business world

“The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.” This, the WEF mission statement, was an underlying theme that ran through the conference and the conversations that were struck there.

In business, we spend a lot of time talking about metrics, whether that’s revenue, profitability or quarterly goals. I think what’s really important about the forum is that you’re putting business leaders together with political and nonprofit leaders, and giving them the opportunity to really focus on the implications of the activities of corporations and not just on numbers.

It’s about how businesses are impacting the world and all of its citizens as a whole. The work is crucial. We need to look beyond the bottom line to view the greater picture and see how we, as a society, are moving forward.

The opportunity to intern with Accenture Strategy and be part of the WEF team was incredible, and the effort that was put into the project was multiplied by an infinite amount in the results and experience I gained coming out of it. I gathered exceptional knowledge about business strategy, technology and exponential thinking. I gained a number of essential skills. Now, post-MBA, I’m leveraging that experience and the insights I obtained. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to pull together all of these valuable learnings and put them into practice as I launch a new venture in the technology space.

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    Danny Donald • November 19, 2016


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