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Interview with Jonathan Story

Learn more about Jonathan Story’s keynotes, the important themes he covers and how you may benefit from his keynotes. Read on below.

What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?

What matters for business in entering or developing markets in different territories is always going to be related to the deployment of scarce resources within the company to achieve particular objectives.

Research shows that the complexity of these internal tasks takes up most of the time of senior management, who nonetheless have to also keep more than an eye on the competition and on what goes on in the world’s many markets. My contribution is to emphasise the link between context and the business. I do that through lectures, or by cases, and can cover territories and regions all around the world.


What is the most unique experience you have had as a keynote speaker?

I have been giving keynote speeches since the 1970s: in 1974, September, I was invited to Kodak Europe’s meeting of then then national ceos, and told then the 30 years of growth was over. They had come with quite other views. But used the rest of the con,ference to work through the implications of what I’d said. Yves Doz, my colleague at INSEAD, relates the resulting turnaround in strategy in his 1987 book, with C.K.Prahalad, The Multinational Mission: Balancing Local Demands and Global Vision. There are many other examples: my analysis on Franco-German initiatives on exchange rate policy was absorbed immediately into 10 Downing Street;  in 1982, summer, I told Spanish business leaders that Felipe Gonzalez would be there Prime Minister in October, and lead a government that would probably last through to 1996; I told a meeting of senior managers in summer 1987 that the two Germanies would be uniting by December 1989, which the CEO of a very large German corporation objected; in 1991, I gave a talk on globalization and its implications in Austria, where the corporate CEO told me he learnt more with a day with me than from the Davos meeting he was at; in 2002, I wrote a chapter for the Davos Arab report, predicting that the US would invade Iraq, which the Saudis were very upset about. When war happened, they were gracious enough to invite me to a meeting in Lebanon on the region after the war. In Moscow, I presented my book CXhina: Race to Market to the Foreign Ministry, where we had a discussion about what Russia could learn from China. I gave a talk to the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce emphasising in particular the importance of country branding, an idea which was in the air, and India definitely picked up on. Many examples, not one.


How does globalization play into making smarter business decisions?

The task of senior management is now extremely arduous. In addition to leading a corporation, aligning implementation on strategy, hiring great people, etc top managers are now effectively global diplomats, permanently in negotiatations with states around the world. Learning, updating about what is going in the world, confirming or refuting top management’s opinions, is a very important part of the task. I would venture that top management’s two major tasks are HR and context. They are the crucial link between what goes on outside the firm and the firms activities.


Which themes are you most asked to cover in your talks?

Recently, the themes  have been about the future of Europe—a vital subject for the global economy because it is now, despite its problems, number one emporium in the world. I have also been asked much to talk about world affairs, where the world is heading etc.


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