Summary Report of the Meridian Global Leadership Summit 2014

Who Leads the World? Rethinking Global Leadership


On October 17, 2014, Meridian International Center hosted the third annual Global Leadership Summit in partnership with Gallup and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.  More than 250 influential business and world leaders, policy makers, subject matter experts, diplomats and members of the media gathered for a high level forum featuring stimulating and thought-provoking dialogue on the changing dynamics of global leadership.

Meridian’s President and CEO, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, opened the program and invited Andrew Gelfuso, Vice-President of Trade Center Management Associates, to share welcome remarks. Meridian’s newly elected Chairman, Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, shared his insights on The Demand for Global Leadership.

The Summit featured the release of the Gallup World Poll survey report Global States of Mind: New Metrics for World Leader presented by Jon Clifton, Managing Director of Gallup World Poll. The report captured key findings from Gallup surveys in 137 countries and areas in 2013 on how people are feeling based on specific socio-economic indicators, and served to establish the context for rich discussions to follow. The Gallup World Poll measures the views of citizens on key quality of life issues, including law and order, food and shelter, institutions and infrastructure, good jobs, and well-being. The indicators provide leaders with information about their countries’ performance on the Gallup Macroeconomic Path – a behavioral–based leadership model for successful societies.

A “Global Leadership Spotlight” featured remarks by Senator George J. Mitchell, former U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace and Senate majority leader. Senator Mitchell gave a powerful speech on America’s role in the world within the current global context. According to Senator Mitchell, “American values and democratic ideals appeal to all in the world and we must remain true to our principles.” He stated that while America does not have the capacity to solve every problem in the world, a great future for partnership and collaboration lies ahead for the country and that America must continue to lead.

An  inspiring conversation between foreign policy icons, Senator Richard G. Lugar, President and Chairman, The Lugar Center, and Ambassador Tom Korologos, Strategic Advisor, DLA Piper, focused on the current national security and foreign policy issues ranging from the crisis in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine to the threat of ISIS.

In two dynamic panel discussions, speakers from diverse backgrounds and sectors discussed the new approaches to global leadership and examined the opportunities that lie ahead for global leaders.

The View from Abroad

Moderator: Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO, Meridian International Center

H.E. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland to the U.S.
H.E. Liberata Mulamula, Ambassador of Tanzania to the U.S.
H.E. Mohammed Tawfik, Ambassador of Egypt to the U.S.
Denis Stevens, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Canada to the U.S.

Moderated by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, the first panel featured distinguished diplomats from Canada, Egypt, Finland, and Tanzania. Ambassador Holliday, in his framing remarks, underscored the importance of context, culture and collaboration in global leadership success, and invited panelists to share their insights on leadership from their country’s perspective.

Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde observed that Finland believes in the egalitarian principles of equal rights and opportunities for all, and the Finnish people are generally satisfied with their lives. Finland is a success story and ranks high on various survey polls, including the Gallup World Poll, on a number of factors including economic well- being and happiness. In response to a question about recent tensions between EU and Russia over Ukraine and its impact on Finland, Ambassador Koukku-Ronde mentioned that dialogue with the country’s neighbors is critical to her government’s leadership success. Finland is closely monitoring what is happening in the world and will continue to stay in the mainstream in dealing with the issues of growing concern in the country’s neighborhood between Russia and Ukraine.

Ambassador Mohammed Tawfik discussed Egypt’s recent political transition and noted that Egypt has gone through an enormous transformation in the past year. While Egypt’s security situation remains volatile, the country’s population, like every other country in the world, wants the basic essentials for their future, such as jobs, education, government services, empowerment, and most importantly hope. In envisioning a future role for Egypt as a regional power, he stated, “we can’t stay separated from the region; we have a role to play, and we want to play it.”

Ambassador Liberata Mulamula emphasized the importance of engagement and collaboration for effective global leadership. While the recent discoveries of  large amount of natural gas approximating 33 trillion standard cubic feet positions Tanzania to become a major player in the industry at the global level, the country needs foreign investments to develop its gas infrastructure. In describing Tanzania as East Africa’s main gateway and a regional trade hub, Ambassador Mulamula stated that “infrastructure development is key to the country’s economic stability, and the Tanzanian government is ready to engage with the corporate and business sectors in the U.S. and other countries of the world to strengthen infrastructure and energy resources.” She acknowledged the U.S. government’s recent efforts to engage in Africa including the hosting of the very successful African leaders Summit in Washington, DC.

Mr. Denis Stevens elucidated Canada’s massive transformation over the last 20 years. In his opinion, embracing diversity and adopting an “open-door” policy for new immigrants has been a key factor in Canada’s economic growth.  Canada now ranks as one of the most diverse countries in the world with the wealthiest middle class. The country values and promotes economic opportunity for all. Proximity to the United States and the trade openness through the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has served Canada well, and helped maintain Canada’s competitive advantage in the global economy.

Navigating Global Opportunities

Moderator: Christopher Schroeder, Entrepreneur and Venture Investor

Jennifer Ryan Crozier, Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives, IBM
Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships, U.S. Department of State
Kelly Keiderling, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Al Monaco, President and Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge, Inc.

In framing the discussion for the panel, moderator Christopher Schroeder stated that despite Ebola and ISIS and other growing threats, this is a remarkable time of exceptional technological advancement in which shared expertise and markets are creating amazing opportunities for a new kind of engagement in the world. The promise of such collaboration and partnerships across the globe is offering optimism and hope for the future. He invited panelist to share their thoughts on how leaders should navigate global opportunities through collaboration and innovation and what global engagement will look like five years from now.

The discussion centered on how innovations in technology and unprecedented access to tools in the hands of people around the world to solve their own problems are creating new opportunities and new players. The widespread access to technology is helping to create a rising middle class in parts of the world never imagined and changing the world from the bottom up. There was a general consensus that we are in an age of “co-authorship” where combined expertise opens up new opportunities for collaboration. This new era of technological advancements and connectivity across the globe has transformed every industry, every personal interaction and every aspect of life. Global partnerships and collaboration has assumed a new meaning.

Panelists shared their insights on how their companies and organizations are adjusting and partnering with new players around the world. IBM’s Jennifer Crozier referenced that her company has invested in developing an innovative cognitive computing technology that is having a transforming and positive effect in various sectors, by making a new class of problems computable. Cognitive computing addresses complex situations that are characterized by ambiguity and uncertainty and enables a new partnership between people and computers that scales human expertise. In discussing how his company has become an industry leader in energy development, Al Monaco talked about the importance of renewable energy and green technology for sustainable development around the world.

Thomas Debass, in describing the changing role of traditional diplomacy, stated that collaboration is not just for nation states, and that the U.S. State Department no longer has a monopoly on how diplomacy is conducted. He observed, “Governments have been disrupted by private sector in a positive way across all levels of society – especially governance and diplomacy.  We are seeing a paradigm shift in which the private sector is playing a diplomatic role around the world.” He emphasized the importance of solving problems and addressing challenges through cross-sector and cross-country dialogues. Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Keiderling reiterated that power is shifting from traditional governments into networks, and it is critical to collaborate across sectors - public, private, and nonprofit in a way that matters to the networks.  Both Mr. Debass and Ms. Keiderling concluded that State Department can play a very powerful convening role by bringing the public and private sectors together to identify global challenges and collaborate on solutions.

In sharing their thoughts on the way forward for global leaders in the 21st century, panelists highlighted the importance of:

  • Unleashing the power of technology in building global partnerships to drive greater collaboration and engagement.
  • Tapping the innovative potential of the new generation and engaging them in tackling global challenges.
  • Harnessing the power of diversity as an asset in an increasingly competitive and interdependent global economy.
  • Changing institutional mindsets to embrace the evolving role of private sector in development and bridging the gap between public sector and private sector in meeting global challenges.
  • Fostering public-private and private-private partnerships in driving creative and innovative solutions.

Governor James and Janet Blanchard, the 2014 Meridian Ball and Summit Chairs, closed out the program and shared their thanks with the speakers, participants and supporters of this year’s Global Leadership Summit.

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