Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Megacities and the Boardroom Agenda

Megacities and the Boardroom Agenda 

WomenCorporateDirectors Explores Threats and Opportunities around Unprecedented Urban Growth How are boards coming to terms with explosive urban growth -- and what risks do "megacities" pose to global companies? 

 Lagos megacity.

NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The rise of megacities – cities with over 10 million in population – has emerged as a key concern for boardrooms as companies become more global. Ebola containment, urban unrest, and food and water sustainability are just some of the areas

WomenCorporateDirectors is exploring in its programs for directors worldwide. Panels at the WCD Global Institute and Asia Institute, as well as a paper jointly produced with KPMG, are tackling urban growth from the boardroom perspective, with directors from WCD's 60+ global chapters weighing in about the impact on corporate strategy.

"With 80% of the world's consumption and growth occurring in major metropolitan areas, megacities are setting the agenda for companies globally," said Phyllis Campbell at WCD's recent Asia Institute held in Singapore. Campbell, chairman of the Pacific Northwest for JPMorgan Chase and a director at Nordstrom and Alaska Air Group, led a director panel on megacities at the Institute, which discussed how companies are taking significant steps to address cities as a strategic force.

Rather than viewing the challenge of megacities through a more "unilateral" lens, a trend of current corporate projects has been to focus on collaborative efforts to address what is needed around talent, infrastructure, and safety, among other factors. Such is the case with the Global Cities Initiative – a major, multi-year partnership between JPMorgan Chase and Brookings. As Campbell explains, one of its core components is the development of a network of leaders who can collaborate on actionable strategies. "The goal is to help U.S. city leaders better leverage their global assets and then work with leaders from other cities around the world to develop stronger trade relationships," she said.

With relationships and trade, however, come serious threats that neither the public nor private sector can ignore, said panelist Dr. Anne Kerr, the director of the Urbanization Initiative at Mott MacDonald Hong Kong. "Threats such as susceptibility to epidemics, vulnerability around food imports, and infrastructure shortfalls are realities that companies must put on the table early on when thinking about markets. Are companies – and the governments – really putting in the work to be sustainable?"

The recently elected government in India announced urbanization as a priority in its agenda, pointed out panelist Neera Saggi, chief executive of L&T Seaweeds and president of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry. One million young people in India will enter the labor force every month for the next twenty years, primarily in cities, and Saggi argues that the success of these cities "depends on whether large numbers of people want to go to live there, and whether it can meet their economic and social aspirations."

Saggi adds that cities in India and elsewhere will need to be shaped by "innovative policy solutions, an engagement of all stakeholders, and an understanding of what people need and aspire to."
Ultimately, Kerr said, it's going to take companies and countries really thinking about the "users" – the population. "There's no 'magic' in sustainability: it's about good planning, good execution, and good delivery of products."

For more information about WomenCorporateDirectors and WCD programs for directors, please contact Suzanne Oaks Brownstein or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or news@temin.co.  

About WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) is the only global membership organization and community of women corporate directors, comprised of more than 3,500 members serving on over 6,500 boards in 66 chapters around the world, with many more slated in the next two quarters. The aggregate market capitalization of public companies on whose boards WCD members serve is $8 trillion – if WCD were a country, its economy would be the world's third largest, behind only the U.S. and China. In addition, WCD members serve on numerous boards of large private companies globally.

WCD membership provides a unique platform for learning from the intellectual capital of accomplished women from around the world, and WCD's mission is to increase courage, candor, inclusion, and cohesion in the boardroom. KPMG is a Global Partner of WCD. Spencer Stuart is a Premier Partner, and WCD Strategic Partners include Marriott International, Marsh & McLennan Companies, and Pearl Meyer & Partners; WCD Alliance Partners include International Finance Corporation (IFC), JPMorgan Chase, and Northern Trust.

WCD has 66 global chapters, located in Arizona, Atlanta, Beijing, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Chile, Cleveland, Colombia, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Delhi, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greater Colorado, Greater New Mexico, Gulf Cooperation Council, Hanoi, Hawaii, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kansas City, Kenya, London, Los Angeles/Orange County, Malaysia, Melbourne, Mexico, Milan, Minnesota, Morocco, Mumbai, Netherlands, New York, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern California, North Florida/South Georgia, Panama, Peru, Philadelphia, Philippines, Quebec, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, San Diego, Sao Paulo, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore, South Africa, South Florida, Switzerland, Sydney, Tennessee, Toronto, Turkey, Washington, D.C., and Western Canada. Upcoming chapters include Argentina, Brussels, Egypt, Guatemala, Mongolia, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, Tampa, and Thailand. For more information, visit www.womencorporatedirectors.com.

SOURCE WomenCorporateDirectors

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