President & CEO
Harvey Nash USAPAC
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Tony Blair for President?
This week I attended (on 11/28/06 and 11/29/06) what was truly one of the most impressive business symposiums of my career: the CBI Interactive Conference held in London.
Being an American, I was truly awed by both the prestige of the speakers and the high-level business executives in attendance. It was a most remarkable compilation: some of today’s most renowned CEOs intermingled with UK’s highest levels of politicians and government representatives…all in one forum. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and our own U.S. Treasury Secretary, Henry 'Hank' Paulson, were just a few of the headliner politicians.
I was most impressed by the caliber of the business panelists who spoke about issues of monumental importance to us all, such as globalization and the rise of new economic giants like China, India, Brazil and Russia. Presentations were designed to be intelligent exchanges of ideas and stimulating debates on whether these countries present threats or opportunities. Other topics of the conference included free trade, protectionism (during which a few shots were levied at us Americans), energy security, global warming and more.
While the topics were weighty and broad, the atmosphere was intimate and approachable. The audience and speakers interacted on a level playing field, discussing and debating with spirit, graciousness and reciprocity. I for one don’t know of an equivalent forum here in the U.S. that provides such an open platform for business and government interaction.
And on a personal note, I was thrilled to have Albert Ellis, the CEO of Harvey Nash, introduce me to Tony Blair. He presented me as the President of the U.S. (as I am president of Harvey Nash, USA), which I think momentarily took Mr. Blair back. Maybe he thought President Bush had shrunk and taken on a serious tanning regime. But he recovered quickly and asked me what state I was from, to which I replied New Jersey. I could see him mulling over in his head whether he was going to zing me with a cheap quip about NJ, but fortunately he spared me. I then asked him if he would come to the U.S. and run for President. (I believe he’d win in a landslide.) He just smiled. We were both probably thinking the same thing, but he’s too much a polished politician to jump on the softball I tossed him!