The World Economic Forum is hosting its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland, from Jan. 20 to 23, once again set to remind leaders from around the world they have roles to play in improving the state of the world — the nonprofit organization’s stated goal.
For many years, the meetings of key individuals from various fields, including business, politics and academia have inspired participants to start their own initiatives back home by creating opportunities for them to debate today’s relevant global issues — this year’s theme for the meeting is “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution” — and mingle with key opinion leaders.
One participant from Japan is Yoshito Hori, president of Globis University Graduate School of Management, and managing partner of venture capital firm Globis Capital Partners, who has participated in Davos since 2004.
“I think Hori has mainly two outlets for the inspiration he takes from Davos,” said Tomoya Nakamura, dean, Graduate School of Management at Globis University. “One is represented by G1, which is a Japanese version of the Davos meeting involving political, business and cultural leaders. The other, I think, is that, if you look at the general direction the Globis group, the areas Globis Capital Partners invests in and the classes created in the MBA program strongly reflect his views on the current times and the world (that are inspired by his Davos experience.)”
The idea for a “Japanese Davos” took shape not long after Hori asked Claus Schwab, the founder of the WEF, why he didn’t bring a WEF meeting to Japan. His answer, according to Hori, was something along the lines of, “Why don’t you organize a meeting of your own in Japan?”
Hori held the first G1 Summit meeting in 2009 with the hope of gathering the leaders of the next generation to paint a vision for the nation’s revival, by giving them an opportunity to learn and debate issues facing the nation.
At the seventh annual meeting held over four days last March, panelists, including Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Akio Mimura, Shinya Yamanaka, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for creating iPS cells, led discussions on such topics as Japan’s shrinking population and an ideal energy policy after the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant led to prolonged suspension of all of the nation’s nuclear power plants and regenerative medicine.
“The biggest difference between Schwab and myself is that he doesn’t express his opinion very often … he doesn’t take a political position, but at the G1 Summit, I do,” Hori has said. “That’s because it’s necessary to make Japan a better place.”
In terms of Davos’ influence on the programs at Globis University, Nakamura pointed to a “Tohoku Social Venture” course, which was launched soon after the earthquake and tsunami disaster hit Japan’s Tohoku region in March 2011.
In the course, Hori sought to take advantage of the popularity of Japan’s largest and highest-ranked MBA to support reconstruction of the Tohoku region, where nearly 16,000 people died and large tracts of land were swept away.
“This is a class that was created in the hope of providing ideas for reviving the disaster-hit areas,” Nakamura said. “The instructor of this class was an MBA holder and venture capitalist, and he discussed successful cases of businesses in the region after the disaster.”
As a Davos regular, Hori keenly follows the latest technological advances, a topic that features prominently as leaders discuss where the world is headed. He believes knowledge of cutting-edge technologies is becoming an essential element for successful business leaders to possess.
This led Globis to start an online Pre-MBA program in English in 2016, which uses an online live conferencing system and chat function that adds an additional, interactive channel of communication in class that is not possible in a physical classroom.
In its 10th academic year starting in April, the school plans to renovate its MBA program into a brand new one that aims to produce a new generation of leaders who can understand the latest technologies and initiate innovation.
The year will see special courses on “branding design and management,” “artificial intelligence and management,” “algorithms and architectures,” “technology and business models” and “big data marketing” under the new program, dubbed “Technovate MBA.”
The school plans to make the program, after finalizing courses in the coming years, a basic building block of its overall MBA program by the 2018 academic year, according to Hiroyasu Mizuno, Globis’ global communications manager.
“This program is not intended to produce technicians,” Mizuno said. “The key element is to help students better understand technology … we’ll equip them with skills to gain a competitive edge by using technology, implementing it in business models and initiating new businesses.”