The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. The coronavirus pandemic has led to those emotions for many of us, and I’ll readily admit sharing them – especially in those first few weeks. Indeed, uncertainty over public health and the economy has added fear, confusion and even despair into the mix.
Due to a confluence of local decision making and some good luck Australia has so far largely avoided the higher counts of infection prevalence and mortality experienced in Europe and North America.
However, I’ve always viewed myself as a global citizen, interested in human dignity around the planet and in favour of an interconnected and tolerant world. I have grave concerns around the state of international relations, with India and China at loggerheads, the US increasingly distancing itself from collaboration imperatives and the EU struggling under the weight of segregated fiscal and monetary levers.
Right now, we have much that is disconcerting, and even more, that is fraught with risk to our collective health and happiness. In this climate, it is hard to have confidence, to invest, to borrow money, to consume and to make plans.
A collapse in consumer and business confidence is perilous given the existing challenges of lockdowns, stunted migration and curtailed output in swathes of the economy. Without a degree of confidence from households and firms, we may be destined for a long and painful depression in output which can become entrenched as insolvencies and unemployment mount.
Where do we look for confidence to come from? I’m privileged to talk with some of the finest minds in society on questions of geopolitics, medicine and fiduciary investing. Recently I have taken great comfort in learning from Dr John Fraser, whose efforts to capture patient data using artificial intelligence and cascade it in real-time using cloud computing is making a huge impact on treating COVID-19.
I was also recently able to talk to Adrian Hill at Oxford University, whose trials indicate a vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready as soon as September. This would be a record time for navigating clinical trials and a landmark achievement in medical science.
Beyond the laboratories and hospitals, I am drawing hope from the likes of Ian Golden that globalisation can continue beyond this reversion to autarky and isolationism. Furthermore, I believe funds management is in good hands with strong female leadership from Jenny Johnson, and that inequality can be mitigated if we listen to the likes of people like Esther Duflo.
There are reasons to develop confidence as we draw on the best examples of human curiosity, ingenuity and leadership. As such I am delighted to announce the most personal project of my career, a new series of intimate conversations with leaders of the decade to come.
The broadcasts will be free to attend, digitally beamed live around the world and accessible on demand. My goal is to learn from my guests about their formative experiences with leadership, their own philosophies and principles, and how they plan to evolve to embrace the opportunities our future offers.
My first guest is Damien Mu, chief executive of the largest insurance company in Australia, AIA. He will be discussing leadership from all angles and the things that can give us all confidence in the future at 4:30 pm, Wednesday 29th July. Register your place here.
My second guest will be well renowned David Gonski who is the current Chair of ANZ, Chancellor of UNSW, chair of Film Australia and sits numerous boards. He will be discussing stewardship in a crisis on August 25 at 4.30pm. Register your place for August 25 here.
Please join us and engage with your own questions, comments and observations. I am sure that speaking to the smartest people in the room is the best way to build this.