Unlocking Europe's vibrant future – 5 jobs to be done

8 Oct 2019

Welcome, fellow Europeans.

It is wonderful to see you all and I am deeply grateful that you have been able to join us this afternoon at a pivotal moment for Europe.

Many of you will have heard me talk before about how proud I am to be European. 

This morning, I flew in from London – one of the world’s most enterprising and dynamic cities, and a city steeped in European history. 

Europe’s history and track record of innovation is outstanding.

We have faced and overcome great challenges before, and top business leaders have long regarded the European market as crucial to their commercial success.

But, friends, this track record is no longer enough.

There is no shortage of great minds and entrepreneurial spirit in Europe, but there are increasing worries about our ability to keep pace in an ever-more competitive world.

  • There is a long-standing concern about Europe’s productivity performance
  • European R&D expenditure now lags behind the US, Japan and China
  • And, today, of the 15 largest digital companies in the world, not one is European and the US is outspending Europe on AI by 5.5x

As we all know, Europe is at a crossroads and we need strong leadership and action from business to break the impasse.

I have just come from a meeting of the Europe Delivers Advisory Board – a truly remarkable group of leaders.

We are united in our conviction that European business can and must rise to the challenge.

We know that many businesses are stepping up to the plate. But we need to go farther and faster.

That’s why I am absolutely delighted that today we are launching our latest Europe Delivers report: ‘Unlocking Europe's vibrant future – 5 jobs to be done’, which is based on conversations with 27  leading European CEOs.

Friends - in today’s uncertain and challenging times, it is absolutely vital that Europe has a seat at the table.

Europe Delivers - Our journey

Europe Delivers has the mission of mobilising European leaders to drive a new kind of economic growth:

  • One that works with nature, not against it
  • One that delivers values across generations, not financial quarters
  • And one that creates prosperity and wellbeing for all Europeans, not just a privileged few

It is a year since we launched Europe Delivers and, with all of your help, we have achieved a lot.

It is tremendously encouraging to look back on the progress that we have made.

To get under the skin of a new growth model, we began our journey by identifying four Grand Challenges that lie at the heart of Europe’s current difficulties and future opportunities:

  • The Future of Work, which focuses on ensuring that the changing landscape of work optimises both business performance and human prosperity.
  • A Green and Resilient Economy, which focuses on recalibrating economic growth so that it balances short-term human needs with long-term environmental resilience.
  • A Global Europe, which focuses on how Europe can lead the world towards an open, collaborative and universally prosperous future.
  • And a new social contract, which focuses on repairing the broken social contract between European leader and citizens to reflect the needs of modern society.

With help from our growing community, we unpacked and explored these Grand Challenges and built a shared conviction around the need for change.

Then, at the beginning of this year, we began travelling all across Europe, holding open and honest conversations with 27 top CEOs from across Europe.

Together, the businesses that they lead represent a combined market cap equivalent to the GDP of Canada, the 10th largest economy in the world. 

We sat down with these CEOs to ask which of the Grand Challenges they consider most pressing and what their businesses are doing to address them. We also asked them what action they felt was missing.

Through those conversations, we have heard many, many inspiring stories of business impact.

Around the world, for example, many business leaders, have come out strongly in support of the global climate protests and made commitments that match the scale of the challenge that we face.

We are seeing many businesses undertaking long-term, strategic shifts in the way they make profit and grow, placing people and planet at the centre of their business strategies.

  • Just look at our partners Ikea and Unilever, for example, who have exceeded their targets for generating more renewable energy than they consume through their retail operations!
  • And look at Ørsted and DSM, and the way that they have transformed from black to green!

Like I said, we are seeing more and more inspiring examples of business action, but we all know there is still much to be done.

And, it is absolutely critical that, collectively, we are able to understand what really counts, prioritise and take action – fast.

That’s why, in the report that we are launching today and based on all that we have learned through our journey, we present the top five jobs that we believe CEOs must action immediately in order to drive the change that we need:

  1. Move beyond shareholder primacy
  2. Lead the consumer
  3. Shape the future of work, rather than waiting for it
  4. Liberate data through trust
  5. Reset the collaboration between business and government

My great colleague, Philip Smith – the Director of Europe Delivers, will talk through each of these in detail shortly.

Doing the jobs that need to be done

So, we have identified the jobs to be done.

But our journey is far from complete.

Now we must take practical action and follow through.

We, as leaders, must transform ourselves, our organisations and the systems in which we operate.

And to enable this, we must change the way that we lead; change the way that we engage and communicate; and change the way that we innovate.

The good news is that we are not starting from scratch.

At the beginning of this year, Xynteo and Scania began a project to unleash the potential of Europe’s bioeconomy.

And this week in our open innovation studios at the Xynteo Exchange, we will tackle some of the greatest systems challenges of our time with our determined and forward-leaning partners: 

  • Yara International – focusing on transitioning to a sustainable food system
  • Nordea – focusing on transforming finance for a future-fit world
  • Scania – focusing on unleashing the potential of Europe’s bioeconomy
  • Verizon – focusing on shaping the future of work
  • Microsoft and DNVGL – focusing on accelerating action for a healthy ocean
  • Anglo American – focusing on understanding tomorrow’s consumer

But this is not enough.

That is why our journey must continue.

In 2020, Europe Delivers will be holding a series of dialogues in cities across Europe, hosted by some of the CEOs featured in this report as well as our Advisory Board. 

These dialogues will explore responses to the report, enable us to widen and deepen our community of leaders and seek to ignite cross-sector collaboration and practical projects.

The opportunities are enormous – in digitalisation, AI and robotics; in innovation and investment for a green economy; in lifelong education and training; in circular manufacturing; and in advanced pharmaceutical and healthcare, to name just a handful.

Friends, the time for talk is over. We must now accelerate action with great ambition, resolve and tempo.

For us, is a true privilege that you have chosen to join us on our journey.

I look forward to working with you all to turn these five jobs to be done into five jobs that have been done.

Thank you!