Coming Wednesday the World Economic Forum (WEF) kicks off in Davos. Approximately 2,500 CEO’s of the largest corporations globally, international politicians and high-profile scientists and academics will make their way to the now famous city in the Swiss Alps to discuss the most important economic, social and demographic trends and challenges that face humanity. For consulting firms, Davos represents perhaps the most prestigious stage there is, with sixteen consulting firms having the privilege of being an integral contributor of the summit’s agenda.
Since its foundation in the early 70’s, the World Economic Forum, a Swiss non-profit foundation, has grown into a leading network and think tank for governments, academic institutions, businesses and entrepreneurs. Every year the WEF organises its annual winter meeting – the largest and flagship of its global meeting cycle* – in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. The WEF has as its goal to engage “leaders in society” to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
For CEO’s, there is arguably no better stage on the globe than the WEF to represent their firm and learn from peers and best practices. For companies that serve the globe’s executives, such as advisors, the annual meeting in Davos is one of the most valuable hubs around. The WEF is open to a relatively small group of people, roughly 2,500, consisting of the elite only, in essence implying that contribution and/or attendance to the event can be directly associated with prestige. A glimpse of the social media accounts of the sixteen lucky consulting firms attending the event says it all. In addition, the WEF provides consultancies a podium to share their thought leadership to CxOs and offers opportunities to network with decision-makers who stand at the heart of the power spectrum.
Overall, 1,000 of the world’s top corporations can call themselves a partner of the World Economic Forum, across two different partnership levels and a range of communities, of which sixteen are active in the management consulting industry. Consultancy.uk presents an overview:
A select group of 100 companies are so-called ‘Strategic Partners’ of the WEF. The firms play a leading role globally in shaping markets and industries, and stand at the centre of the Forum's knowledge generation activities. Among the 100 strategic partners are twelve consulting firms, including the well-known strategy consulting firms and the Big Four*.
Besides the Strategic Partners, the WEF also has more than 200 so-called ‘'Industry Partners', companies that are actively involved in the Forum's mission at the industry level. On top of the 12 consultancies highlighted above, also AlixPartners, Aon, Arup and FTI Consulting belong to the group of industry experts.
In the run to the 2015 edition of the World Economic Forum, many of the high-profile partners of consultancies who will attend have released their view on the key themes and topics they believe should be addressed. According to Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director at McKinsey & Company, the strength of the U.S. economy is set to be a major theme in Davos, stating: “The U.S. is very economically dominant and powerful, and I think it’s just going to get better.” John Veihmeyer, Global Chairman of consultancy KPMG, warns that despite the heightened focus on the short to medium term, the result of the volatile global landscape, it is for leaders important to keep long-term strategic planning on the agenda. “You don’t want to make decisions today you will look at in 10 years and regret,” Veihmeyer says. Ian Powell, Chairman of PwC UK, believes that a number of megatrends will dominate the agenda, naming rapid urbanisation and the rise of technology as two foremost examples.
From Bain & Company, among others Chairman Orit Gadiesh will attend, BCG’s team will be headed by CEO Rich Lesser, while Cesare Mainardi, CEO of Strategy&, will serve as the firm’s main representative. Other prominent advisors leading their consultancy delegation at WEF include Johan Aurik (Managing Partner of A.T. Kearney), Barry Salzberg (Global CEO) and David Sproul (CEO UK) of Deloitte, as well as EY CEO Mark Weinberger.
* The WEF holds six to eight regional meetings each year in varying locations across the globe.