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Global leaders reveal surprises of 2021, challenges for 2022

  •   BRINK
  •   19 January 2022
  • 1
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BRINK is a global content platform, supported by Marsh McLennan, that provides insights on critical business issues. In Part 1, BRINK recently asked a cross section of its experts to identify - in a couple of sentences - what they had learned that surprised them the most in their areas of expertise over the last year or so since the pandemic began.

In Part 2 of the survey, they asked their experts to name the challenge or opportunity that they think will rise up the agenda the most in their area of expertise.

Part 1 - surprises from 2021

Jo Owen, Author of Smart Work: The Ultimate Handbook for Remote and Hybrid Teams

The speed with which firms and people can change. In March 2020, remote working was transformed from unthinkable to essential in one weekend.

Mona Sloane, Sociologist and Senior Research Scientist, New York University

Literacy around AI systems and their risks and benefits has increased over a very short period of time.

David Dollar, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

The difficulty of establishing scientific certainty in real time; policies keep changing.

Ellen Ernst Kossek, Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor of Management, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

How much COVID-19 negatively impacted the work-life equality, labor force participation and careers of women; perhaps setting them back at least a generation.

Larissa van der Lugt, Director, Erasmus Center for Urban, Port and Transport Economics

The difficulty of achieving cooperation, while the pandemic urged that even more.

Deborah Gordon, Senior Principal at Rocky Mountain Institute

How easily the work world adapted to virtual interactions and maintained productivity. I’m eager to see how hybrid working (both in-person and virtual) shapes up in the year ahead.

John Asafu-Adjaye, Senior Fellow, the African Center for Economic Transformation

The extent to which the use of ICT has been scaled up over the past two years in most African countries, especially in the areas of banking, finances and education and health. Going forward, there is an opportunity to accelerate the use of ICT for nation-building by addressing the infrastructure challenges.

RM Charan, President of Charan Associates

How little U.S. business leaders were aware of the implications of the evolving U.S. China relations.

Sarah Tong, Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore

That there are social groups who would oppose efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Alicia Garcia Herrero, Senior Research Fellow, Bruegel

Supply chain disruptions.

Richard Wilding, Professor of Supply Chain Strategy, Cranfield University U.K.

That scenario planning in good times is excellent planning for the challenging times.

Ben Hoster, Director, Transformative Technologies, Marsh McLennan Advantage

The pace of technology adoption and related perils. The second and third order effects of increased remote work and related cyber/digital risks. Technology is at once a key enabler and also a threat vector at increasingly large scale.

Bart W. Edes, Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

How quickly our work environment could dramatically change, with long-term impacts now embedded for the post-pandemic era.

John West, Executive Director, Asian Century Institute

I have been surprised at the incompetent management of COVID in most advanced countries and the lack of a serious effort to uncover the origin of COVID. Against that, I have been equally surprised at how rapidly effective vaccines were developed.

Alexander Privitera, Head of European affairs at Commerzbank AG

The resilience of banks.

Blair Chalmers, Director, Marsh McLennan Advantage

The ability of firms to conduct due diligence on acquisitions virtually (in the face of travel restrictions).

Marcus Courage, CEO at Africa Practice

The constraints of labor laws in managing remote and distributed workforces.

Anbumozhi Venkatachalam, Director, Research Strategy and Innovations at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia

The resilience of value chains and digitalization.

Haig Nalbantian, Senior Partner, Mercer

The ease of adaptation to flexible work arrangements in response to COVID and the ability to sustain productivity and engagement under these circumstances is beyond anything I predicted.

Jason Clay, SVP Markets, ED Markets Institute, WWF

The pandemic is getting all the headlines, but climate change will disrupt and kill more lives and economies. It is already here and is having much more profound impacts than expected.

VADM (Ret) John Miller, CEO, The Fozzie Miller Group

I’ve been impressed by how quickly businesses and populations have adjusted to the “new normal” that the pandemic caused, despite poor performances across the globe by governments, which was slow, oppressive in the establishment of restrictions and regulations, and largely ineffective in easing the burdens caused by the virus.

Kavitha Hariharan, Director, Healthy Societies, Marsh McLennan Advantage

The continued failure to appreciate that in a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Lack of vaccine access in poor countries and vaccine hesitancy anywhere result in persistent transmission of SARS-Cov-2, which rolls the dice in favor of the emergence of new variants.

Part 2 - challenges for 2022

In the second half of the survey, we asked our experts to name the challenge or opportunity that they think will rise up the agenda the most in their area of expertise.

Jo Owen, Author of Smart Work: The Ultimate Handbook for Remote and Hybrid Teams

Hybrid working will become the new normal.

Mona Sloane, Sociologist and Senior Research Scientist, New York University

We will see more AI regulation kick in in 2022, and businesses will have to adapt rapidly to new transparency, accountability and audit requirements.

David Dollar, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Rising trade disputes and protectionist policies.

Ellen Ernst Kossek, Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor Of Management, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

Implementing flexible working in a way that truly balances employee and employer needs and transforms the workplace from a place to a virtual relationship.

Larissa van der Lugt, Director, Erasmus Center for Urban, Port and Transport Economics

Making progress in the energy transition.

Deborah Gordon, Senior Principal at Rocky Mountain Institute

In 2022, we will need to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of market transitions, especially in an effort to rebuild a net-zero emissions economy. It will be essential to maintain market integration as we shift to low-carbon inputs and outputs — this risk is especially concerning in the refining sector.

John Asafu-Adjaye, Senior Fellow, the African Center for Economic Transformation

The main challenge will be how African economies can recover from the effects of the pandemic and speed up economic growth and create good jobs for the large population of young people. Many countries have had to borrow to supplement the COVID-19 response measures — how can they scale back their debt levels without cutting back on social expenditures?

RM Charan, President of Charan Associates

Inflation, U.S.-China relations, and the U.S. economy.

Sarah Tong, Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore

Uncertainty around the global pandemic and U.S.-China tensions are two of the most serious challenges to the world economy.

Alicia Garcia Herrero, Senior Research Fellow, Bruegel

Taiwan becoming the central focus of U.S.-China strategic competition.

Richard Wilding, Professor Of Supply Chain Strategy, Cranfield University U.K.

Increasing agility and planning for onshoring, nearshoring and multi-shoring to increase supply chain resilience.

Ben Hoster, Director, Transformative Technologies, Marsh McLennan Advantage

Technology convergence, “smart” devices and applications, with related cyber threats and digital risks, and some day, the Metaverse.

Bart W. Edes, Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

Containing COVID-19 to enable the launch of a sustainable, inclusive global recovery.

John West, Executive Director, Asian Century Institute

Growing global political instability in light of [President] Biden’s weakness and unpopularity at home, [President] Xi’s anxiousness to have his term as China’s leader extended, [President] Xi’s impatience for Taiwan to be unified with mainland China, and strategic drift in Europe with the departure of [former Chancellor] Merkel and the French elections.

Alexander Privitera, Head of European Affairs at Commerzbank AG

Calibrating fiscal and monetary policies.

Blair Chalmers, Director, Marsh McLennan Advantage

The adaptation and resilience of infrastructure assets.

Marcus Courage, CEO at Africa Practice

Regulation/regulatory compliance. A wave of new regulations to address tax compliance, health, digital/data and environment.

Anbumozhi Venkatachalam, Director, Research Strategy and Innovations at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia

Destructive innovation and financing sustainability.

Haig Nalbantian, Senior Partner, Mercer

Developing effective, data-driven DEI strategies which will continue to accelerate and come to dominate the HR agenda.

Jason Clay, SVP Markets, ED Markets Institute, WWF

The need for common metrics, methodologies and boundaries to make meaningful change. Absolute reductions of all climate impacts.

VADM (Ret.) John Miller, CEO, The Fozzie Miller Group

2022 will be a year of continued challenges — especially regarding Chinese and Russian aggression. The most pressing issue will be responding in Ukraine, should Russia decide to invade. We can expect China to further pressurize Taiwan as they continue to move toward an unwanted re-unification.

Kavitha Hariharan, Director, Healthy Societies, Marsh McLennan Advantage

Workforce burnout will exacerbate delivery challenges in health care, in a context of swelling demand caused by new SARS-Cov-2 variants and Long COVID, care that has been deferred during the pandemic, and other health crises such as those caused by increasingly severe extreme weather events.

 

BRINK is a global content platform, supported by Marsh McLennan Advantage and is managed by Long Dash. This content is republished with permission.

 

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