We as team participated in the “World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia” which convened more than 1,000 leaders from industry, government and civil society last week in Istanbul. Quite a spectacular event with attendance such high level from all countries surrounding Turkey.
Instead of me going to them, finally my customers came to meJ I actively participated in two working sessions, one on gender equality and one on innovation; met with several ministers from Turkey and the region; and also met with CEOs of companies we do business with. The gender equality session had a strong voice on what had to happen, but all the strong women in the room, all running companies or NGOs asked the same question, ‘where are the men to discuss these with us?’. The innovation session had a process I never experienced before. We split up based on regional segmentation and looked at how innovation can flourish in that particular region. The northern and western European regional output was that there needed to be more energy, risk taking and ‘hunger’ to succeed in these mature regions and innovation will only flourish then. The output from Middle East regions were more on the side of infrastructural issues like education system; judiciary changes as well as cultural barriers. Culturally Middle East is used to getting decisions from top and much less focus on individual and what he/she can achieve alone; hence taking initaitaive and innovation is largely curtailed. How do we change that as nations? Also a quote that I loved during the session was ‘need less government, more governance!’
It was also a wonderful platform to meet old friends after long while, Tarkan Maner, WYSE’s CEO; Tevfik Akdag who runs Turkish investment company in the Gulf and hear their amazing stories of personal initiative and success. And the most spectacular was being in the gardens of Dolmabahce palace for a cultural soire given by the prime minister of Turkey and enter the gardens through Mehteran Alayi (old ottoman army band). The sun set in beautiful Bosphorus; this city makes shine anything that happens around it.