Venture Capitalists, Cocoa, and Chobani: Day Two at the WEF in Davos

By Anna Macdonald, Control Arms Director

Anna Macdonald, Control Arms Director, along with Badr Jafar, Advocate of High-Impact Entrepreneurship, and Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Anna Macdonald, Control Arms Director, along with Badr Jafar, Advocate of High-Impact Entrepreneurship, and Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

I’ve now had my first 24 hours at Davos, which has included: a welcome reception; a surprisingly kicking Indian finance party; a cable car ride up a mountain to meet Formula 1 racing champions who coached us in how to perform better; facilitating a session on the gaps in humanitarian funding and the potential of private-public partnerships to address this; a working lunch on the challenges facing civil society activism; listening to a passionate Justin Trudeau describe the changes he will bring to Canada and the world; and hearing the welcome address from the Swiss chair and keynote from US Vice President Joe Biden. A highlight of this moment was Biden referencing Oxfam’s Inequality report, and calling for action on extreme inequality including on tax havens –that’s certainly some report launch!

This is what I’ve learnt so far:

  1. Participants are 82% men, but there is a more equal gender balance because lots of wives are here as ‘spouse participants’ (there are a few husbands, but it is almost all wives). I’ve met quite a few – accomplished professionals in their own right so far. Here’s a thought Davos, maybe just call them “participants” and not “spouses”?
  1. Most people are very friendly, and it is a good opportunity to meet people from sectors one wouldn’t normally.
  1. There are investment bankers and venture capitalists everywhere.
  1. That footwear advice was really needed – it’s massively snowy and icy everywhere, and you have to walk between venues a lot (shuttles take forever in the WEF traffic overload on this small town), so it’s either the suit/dress and snow boot combo, or carrying a change of shoes and trying to find cloakrooms everywhere.
  1. Racing drivers have some good tips on leadership and whole life balance to increase productivity.
  1. The Chobani yoghurt guy is really cool.
  1. A lot of people hang out late at the parties that seem to go on at multiple locations (essential research).
  1. Still 2 sessions and a discussion dinner, then a reception to go – WEF packs a LOT into their programme.
  1. There is a lot of talk of the need to address the problems of refugees, marginalised groups and people living in poverty. But will Davos lead to an action plan? It’s too early to say.