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Occam’s Razor: Reviving Business in the Post-COVID Era

Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC, spoke during the session, prepared with PwC support, at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Leading experts discussed cooperation between business and government, business and society, employees and management.

“Entities are not to be multiplied without necessity". This principle is hardly disputable. However, what should be regarded as a priority and what as an impediment to your business growth? What should interaction between business and government, business and society, employees and management look like? What investments should be prioritised over others? Is it right to regard prompt digital transformation as the miracle remedy for most serious problems? Whose interests have more weight these days – those of shareholders or stakeholders? Should we think that innovation and creativity are the main ingredients of business success in the post-COVID era?

Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC: “Digitalisation is, first of all, necessary for prosperity, new experience, better employability, increased investments and revenue. But it is important to deal with unequal opportunities, learn how to teach people, adapt technologies for the good of society. Technology must become a resource for refugees and poorly educated population groups. For this reason, it is important that the system can analyse society’s sustainable development, as well as GDP, and maintain a balance. Both government and business community should support these steps with the necessary investments". 

Daron Acemoglu, economist, co-author of Why Nations Fail started the discussion with prompt digital transformation and its aspects. "There is no doubt that the future will be digital. The role of technologies and digital platforms has increased during the pandemic and it has definitely led to market consequences. Technology has boosted human creativity, and we widely apply automated processes. But how has digitalisation led to tyrant regimes obtaining more power and authority? Today, it is important not to allow such consequences. Nothing is inevitable, we may and should use technology, first of all, to expand society’s opportunities and increase its welfare. Currently, we need a more reliable and technologically sound regulatory nation. Increased powers of the government and corporations should be balanced with society’s growing democratic engagement", says Daron Acemoglu. 

Alexey Kudrin, Chairman of the Audit Chamber of the Russian Federation, also commented on business and government cooperation in Russia. "The role that the government plays in the Russia’s economy has a distinct history, so far this role has been prevailing. Today, a new challenge for governments and companies is in creating a balance between rights and opportunities for everyone, and the sustainable development principles are one of the ways to achieve this balance. However, on this way, it is important to watch after global shifts, both governmental and supranational, because growing companies would pursue their own interests, despite any economic frameworks established worldwide; for this reason, large companies demand certain regulation". Alexey Kudrin agreed with Mr Acemoglu: "The government should still maintain a role in establishing rules and protecting citizens, but the role of economic regulation must be reduced. Even now we see that private business is more focused on supporting new creative industries, new knowledge hubs, but the government’s role in private sector regulation in Russia is still very significant", noted Alexey Kudrin. 

Brett King, founder and Executive Chairman at Moven, winner of the 2020 PwC Business Book of the Year in Russia in the Best Book by a Foreign Author Published in Russia category, asked a question on the true goal of economic growth. "One of the key issues today is what is the true goal of economy – showing the GDP growth or creating healthy and happy citizens? Economy should, first of all, care about citizens, eliminate inequality and poverty. We should look from another angle at sustainable development, climate change and prospects of renewable energy sources. Fighting against devastating consequences of economic crises, climate change, AI and refugees are the top-priority tasks of economy", emphasises Brett King. 

Irina Bokova noted that sustainable development is the key agenda both for government, companies and society, and it should be performed in synergy between government and private sector. "Progress is not only about GDP and numbers, but about human development too. Sustainable development implies culture which must embrace the entire activity. Companies which could adapt to new realities, would have better access to capitals and consumers. I believe that the pandemic has accelerated the trend to human capital prioritisation", noted Irina Bokova, Board Member, Independent Director, PJSC PhosAgro; Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Experts also noted that some companies have already gained certain benefits from sustainable development being on the agenda. For example, Tim Myers, Chief Executive Officer at Arconic Corporation, said that aluminium is a solution for many industries, as it is recyclable, which is one of the main sustainable characteristics today.

Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), Co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), considers that cooperation between government and business would only build up, companies are keen to contribute to emission reduction, generating sufficient revenue meantime, which is possible only subject to interaction among all stakeholders.

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Anna Smischenko-Mironova

Anna Smischenko-Mironova

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