Asia’s business news agenda in 2021

2021 is being seen as a year of transition for businesses in Asia. As we begin to put the disruption of the pandemic behind, what are the trends that show we are transitioning to the next normal?

In this episode of the Future of Asia podcast, we discuss the changing ways of working, innovation in action, and the sustained sustainability imperative despite the pandemic with media influencers Kevin Krolicki, Asia Regional Editor of Reuters, and Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor of The Straits Times. An edited transcript of the podcast follows. For more conversations on Future of Asia, subscribe to our podcast here.

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Oliver Tonby: You are listening to the Future of Asia podcast by McKinsey & Company. I am Oliver Tonby, your host. In this series, we feature leaders from across the region to discuss the forces, the opportunities, and the challenges that are shaping the future of Asia.

Welcome everyone to the Future of Asia podcast series. Today, we have an exciting topic and exciting guests. We are talking about Asia’s business news agenda in 2021, and we have two media guests joining us today. We have Kevin Krolicki, the Asia Regional Editor for Reuters, and we also have Ravi Velloor, who is the Associate Editor for The Straits Times based out of Singapore. Welcome, gentlemen. I want to start in 2020 before we look into 2021—if you look back, what is one thing that surprised you the most in 2020?

Kevin Krolicki: Do I have to pick one thing? I have a few.

Oliver Tonby: Go for it.

Kevin Krolicki: One thing certainly stood out for me, and this is an observation of our business—the news business, but I think it applies to other companies as well. Traditionally, the way we operated was in newsrooms. I had a belief, certainly maybe a professional bias, that the most productive newsroom would be one where people were proximate and where the brainstorming was happening in real time. It was a real surprise to me how quickly we were able to become networked, to become a virtual newsroom, how productive that was, and in many ways, how much better that was than the model it interrupted. And I think this has caused us to look at—as we come out of this—how we staff, where we staff, and what our footprint needs to look like. I think that must be true for many businesses. I know in fact many businesses are having that discussion.

Beyond that, there was a huge surprise with what happened to asset prices over the course of the year. I think at the beginning of 2020 and at the beginning of the pandemic, that would have been a pretty bold call, and yet, here we are. For me, I guess the other surprise is for a global pandemic—before it first came to light in China—the speed with which and the degree to which China bounced back was a big surprise as well.

Oliver Tonby: Ravi, your biggest surprise of 2020?

Ravi Velloor: Oliver, I am a person who used to travel twice a month out of Singapore to some place in Asia, either for a conference, to moderate, or to speak. But for all of 2020, I’ve not sat in an airplane. I had travels planned for the 24th of January, but new rules came into the company saying that only the most essential travel was permitted, and I had to cancel that trip. Since then, I’ve been grounded, so to speak.

But the most surprising thing is, I used to think that would be terribly vexing for me because I’m restless; I need to go out to meet people, be with people. But quickly, I have adjusted. The first three months were really bad, but after that I sort of got used to it. Today, I’m getting into conferences around the world where I would have to travel to before. It’s happening in Hawaii, or in London, or in New Delhi. I’ve been in those conversations and I’m sitting right here in Singapore and getting it done.

So, that to me, on a professional level has been something really remarkable. The fact that I could adapt to it, that it’s worked out well for me, I think my productivity has caught up tremendously, and that’s it. And on a business level, I kind of see what Kevin just said—it’s just amazing how well the newsroom has adapted to the new environment. We do a mix, but in the first six months, everybody wanted to come back to the office as quickly as possible. Today, we have difficulty persuading people to come back. So, that’s been a big change.

Oliver Tonby: Thank you, both of you. And now, we’re going to switch into 2021 and come back to some of the things that you mentioned in 2020. Are some of those here to stay? 2021 is the year of the ox. In mythology, the ox is known for its diligence, its strength, and determination. These are characteristics that we’re going to need in spades as we look to the year ahead.

We’re looking at a continued pandemic. We’re looking at climate change and sustainability, and all its effects. We’re looking at continued geopolitical tensions. We’re looking at an ongoing technology revolution. All of these things are happening at the same time. So, indeed, 2021 is a year we’re going to need that strength and determination more than ever. But as you look ahead, what are some of the big things you’re looking to in 2021? Kevin, why don’t we start with you?

Kevin Krolicki: Sure. Well maybe I’ll start with events, which are more concrete than ideas. I think for us, there are two big events on the agenda in Asia this year that we’re covering closely and watching closely as bellwethers for how the world is changing, and what the immediate—if not post-pandemic then mid-pandemic—climate looks like. And one of those, of course, is the Tokyo Olympics. It’s still an open question about whether it proceeds and how it proceeds. The Olympic Committee is determined to press ahead with the event, as are the Japan organizers. This really would have been peak Olympics in some ways. There was $3 billion in corporate sponsorship, a record lined up for this event. Although it was an Olympics that sold itself in part on its green credentials in a relatively compact footprint, it was going to be a big Games and a big event for corporate sponsors as well. That’s all changed.

And one of the most interesting changes for me was that this is a game that sold itself on its popular support in Japan. Now, a majority of the people in Tokyo and Japanese citizens are opposed to the games going ahead, unless there are much stricter controls on travel and spectators. So, how those games proceed—how the corporate, commercial, and sport interests are reconciled with public health concerns and public opinion—I think it’s going to be very important and interesting to watch.

As will be—and I’m interested in Ravi’s perspective on this—how the World Economic Forum happens, as that event opens in Singapore in August now. It would have been in May but is now delayed to August. So, I think those are two interesting events we want to watch. And again, really interested to hear Ravi’s thoughts on the latter of those especially.

Oliver Tonby: Ravi, what is the World Economic Forum (WEF) going to be like in August and in Singapore?

Ravi Velloor: Well, Oliver, let’s hope that it does take place to begin with. As you know we just postponed it by a couple of months, and we’re not too sure that we could handle such a big event safely enough. I think there’s been some bilateral talks between the WEF and the Singapore government when they decided to move it.

I, for one, would be spending a lot of time watching geopolitics and geopolitical tension in the region. And this is on three axes: the first is US-China, that’s the big picture. There’s also China and Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. And lastly, China and India. All three of the issues need careful watching, because a lot could go wrong, particularly on the China-India border, that could upset much of Asia.

And in attendance with this geopolitical tension is the reordering of supply chains that’s going to take place through the years. It started to happen in the last two years, and it’s accelerated in 2020—let’s see where that goes. This year, I think we’re going to see some significant changes. I just read a report overnight about cell phone manufacturing in India just shooting up, thanks in part to the Modi government’s support for local manufacturing.

The other thing I’d be watching from a broad perspective is the interest rate cycle. At some point, this loathe a longer thing cannot continue, and there has to be a turnaround in the interest rate cycle. That’s going to affect business in the region. It’s also the support that the governments around the region are giving businesses, which at some point has to taper off because funds are limited. At the end, they’re not limitless, and I think that’s going to have effects on business and on people.

And then of course, the vaccine itself. Although there are several vaccines out there that are in production, I don’t think the research into vaccines has ended quite yet. I think we’re going to see that kind of vaccine discovery in the days ahead, maybe stuff that would be vaccines that could be stable at higher temperatures than they are now, and the rolling out of the vaccine itself. And the territories that do it right are going to be first off the block and will rebound. So, these are some of the issues, Oliver, that I’ll be paying attention to over the course of the year.

Oliver Tonby: Thank you, Ravi. Let’s dig into some of these topics. The first point you mentioned is geopolitics, but also the effect that has on supply chains. Say a little bit more about that—what is driving some of these shifts and supply chains? What are the countries and sectors that you are going to be looking to take advantage of this, so to speak? Ravi, why don’t you go first.

Ravi Velloor: Oliver, you know most of the spills out of China at the moment have come into Vietnam, if you’re looking at Southeast Asia. There’s been a little bit going into India, but not a lot and not in 2020. I expect that to accelerate in 2021, but the tail winds from that are powered by the tensions between the US and China. There are a lot of countries in Southeast Asia that have yet to gain from these spills. Outside of Vietnam, there’s been some going into Malaysia, some going into Thailand, but Indonesia has not gained substantially yet, from what I can see. So, these flows are going to be interesting, and where these investments move to. Some of them are Chinese companies themselves moving into these parts to escape the direct tensions between the US and China.

The flows into the rest of ASEAN beyond Vietnam are going to be interesting, and RCEP is also going to be interesting. RCEP, as you know, is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Now, that’s been signed in November, but it has not been ratified yet. That ratification has to happen during the course of the year. It only comes into effect when half the member states of ASEAN ratify it, and half the dialogue partners ratify it. When that comes into effect, let’s see what happens. Are people going to take advantage of it? Are they going to move to the region in a bigger way? Will China itself be comfortable doing that? I think these are some of the issues that will be worth watching in 2021.

Oliver Tonby: Kevin, what is your view on this?

Kevin Krolicki: I think this is an interesting trend in a couple of respects. I mean one, of course, is the reordering of manufacturing supply chains and Ravi’s touched on that. We’ve seen that developing in sectors—for example, the auto sector—in recent years, and I think that in part was based on cost, and in part based on an assessment of the rising political and trade risks. But I think that the latter of those is even more accentuated now, and you’re going to increasingly see a battle over standards and ecosystems that are non-compatible emerge around new technologies between the US and China. So—just to take one emerging industry that I’ve been following—if you think about autonomous drive vehicles and electric vehicles, at some level, the lithium ion or the next generation battery might be fungible, and there might be some margin in the breakthrough to increasing range.

But what companies like Apple and Google, and I have to assume Chinese companies won’t be far behind, are interested in is the automobile as a node for services for search engine optimization, for marketing, for transactions, and payments. And it’s impossible to think that the same standard in the same ecosystem will apply in China, the largest market for automobiles, as it would apply in the United States.

So, watching how those standards start to diverge will be really interesting. There was a quote I bumped into recently that I thought was kind of defining in terms of the ambition of Chinese policymakers and Chinese business on this, which is to say, “Third rate companies make products. Second rate companies make technology. Top tier companies set standards.” And I think watching the battle for standards is going to be very interesting.

Oliver Tonby: So, what you’re saying is that we started to see this in telcos, 5G, what have you, and you’re saying we could see parallels to this, for example, in the automobile sector? Are there other sectors you can see this kind of evolution?

Kevin Krolicki: Another one that we’ve looked at that I find interesting is companies in technologies that hadn’t been seen as having any significant overlay of political risk—I think that the calculus there is changing, too. If you take, for example, the form of genetic testing that people do for ancestry research, or in some cases that expectant mothers do for prenatal testing, I think there’s now an overlay of concern about what happens to the data. Where does the data go? That will start to mean that you see, again, potential divergence in areas where we never would have expected them.

Oliver Tonby: Can I go to you, Ravi, and ask you: if we have this is divergence or parallel ecosystems, different standards, and what have you, how does a region like ASEAN—which over the years has kind of found its middle way—think about this? How do companies in ASEAN relate to these kinds of multiple ecosystems and standards?

Ravi Velloor: I think for the last 50 years, this region has sort of trodden carefully, I would say, a middle part. But like bamboo, they have moved one way for a while and the other way for a bit, and they will have to navigate these waters because they have no choice. The fact that China is a geographical reality, while the United States is a geopolitical construct—that’s essentially the difference between these two major powers, and both of them have tremendous influence on the region. But I can already see companies doing the footwork for what lies ahead. I’m not sure I want to name this particular company, which is a giant financial services company, but they have set up two clouds, the Chinese cloud and US cloud, not knowing where things could go. But they are in both spaces.

So, Singapore, for instance, has always believed in open architecture for the region, strategically or business-wise, and you see the number of Chinese companies that are moving to Singapore to set up their global headquarters here or international headquarters on this island. The trick is not to get caught up too much and to make it plain to both that we do not wish to be either your camp or the other camp. We just want to be in our own camp, and it is for the truth to a few to make the adjustments for us all to coexist.

Kevin Krolicki: Ravi, if I could just return to what you said there, which I think is really interesting. Potentially, then, if a company here or companies elsewhere, even beyond Southeast Asia, have to operate in two clouds and two skies as it were, that’s an additional cost of business that probably we wouldn’t have anticipated a few years ago.

Ravi Velloor: Absolutely—it will drive up costs, but there’s no choice. You just have to be prepared.

Oliver Tonby: Kevin, I believe you were based in Tokyo for quite a number of years, and we haven’t spoken about Japan. How have Japan and Japanese companies thought about this new world, if I’m allowed to call it that?

Kevin Krolicki: Well to start with the political response, I think the ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party’s view with regards to the security risks, is it’s clear that they are concerned about a longer-term trend of US disengagement from the region, and they are looking for ways to be autonomous. Again, I think many Japanese companies face this sort of dilemma that Ravi has described. Companies like, again to stay with the auto sector, Toyota. For them, China is an indispensable market now, both for sourcing and for sales, as is the United States. So, I think navigating this is going to be a particular challenge. I think politics and public sympathy are more aligned even now with the US, but the economic reality for major companies is a different story.

Oliver Tonby: Got it. Gentlemen, if it’s okay, let’s shift topics. You’ve already started talking a little bit about how there’s an ongoing technology revolution that we see happening worldwide, and we see it happening in Asia. What are some of the most interesting things that you see with regards to the ongoing technology revolution, the digital and analytics transformations that we see transforming not only companies but countries? What are some of the most interesting things you’re picking up around the region?

Ravi Velloor: Can we have a go at that, Oliver? The last time we spoke I think we discussed the Middle East being part of Asia—West Asia as I call it—and if you look at how countries react as nations. You look at the example of Qatar and the way it survived the blockade led by the Saudis and joined the United Arab Emirates (UAE), several others in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations. Today, Qatar is self-sufficient in milk and dairy. It’s getting to be nearly self-sufficient in agriculture, and that’s because of new technologies that are available, whether it’s minimal use of land, minimal use of water, or lighting. It is now possible for Philips, which is a lighting company, to be an agricultural company because by just varying the amount of light in the greenhouse environment, you can actually change the taste of the strawberries that you make.

So, at the national level, I thought Qatar was a wonderful example. And down the line, it’s happening with particular companies; for instance, everybody has to address it today. I was just reading the Hong Kong papers and I saw reports that Standard Chartered is giving up floor space, several floors of office space in Downtown. I understand that this month, they’re sending out letters to staff asking them to decide, “How many hours do you want to spend at the office? How many hours do you want to work from home?” And based on that, the entire configuration of office space is going to take place. So, real estate is going to be affected.

If we look at telemedicine, for instance, being in China, they have this thing called Ping An Good Doctor. That company is to be valued at more than $100 billion Hong Kong dollars and it’s not very old. It has got 200 billion customers. One in seven Chinese customers have Ping An on Good Doctor for telemedicine.

I can see that happening in India in a big way. The man behind Ping An Good Doctor’ is currently the CEO of AIA, which is a giant Asian insurance group based in Hong Kong. He’s a Singaporean, his name is Lee Yuan Siong. Yuan Siong is telling me that in India, his insurance business grew through the year—as did the network and the delivery system—without loss of efficiency, because of the swift adaptation of digital. So, you’re going to see this kind of stuff multiply around the region to a very quick adaptation to technology. If you look at the apps that have been downloaded, I don’t think any region comes close to Asia, and all this is setting the stage for the next burst of innovation and growth in Asia.

Combined with what the key elements of Industry 4.0—or fourth industrial revolution as people say—the AI, the analytics, the robotics, the automation, etc. And now, on top of all that, it’s going to be sustainability issues. Chinese companies, like Envision Group, for instance, they’re doing wonderful work in renewables. They see it as adding a competitive edge to the products that they make, even if it’s ultimately something called grade steel, gearboxes, or what have you. If you put it all together, I think we’re fortunate to be in a very interesting, very promising part of the world.

Kevin Krolicki: One issue involving technology we’ve been tracking closely, which isn’t a surprise, is the application of AI and supercomputing, in some cases to big data. Some of those innovations seem incremental but I think are significant.

For example, if you take the Japanese chain store Lawson’s. Japanese companies in general are known as leading edge in terms of inventory management; Japan invented just-in-time inventory management. But Lawson’s, through the application of big data and AI, has found ways to reduce inventory levels by 30 percent over the course of the last year, which is pretty remarkable in terms of cost savings—and to Ravi’s point about sustainability—to then decrease food waste and plastic waste as a result. You see companies, staying with Japan, like Komatsu—a company that had been a tractor and building and mining equipment vendor—really becoming a data vendor now. Because through the Internet of Things and the network and analytics potential that opens up, they’re able to sell insights back to construction companies, mining operators, and then aggregate all of that data into what becomes a really powerful, real-time indicator of construction and economic activity.

We mentioned China’s turn, and China’s surge back over the course of 2020. It was interesting to watch that Komatsu indicator in something like real-time as we started to get construction boots back on the ground. I think the wider application of this—as you get to increasingly digital transactions, possibly a digital yuan in China—is the way we think about measuring the health of an economy will just fundamentally change, but we’ll be having second-to-second updates.

Oliver Tonby: What the two of you are describing is really fascinating. The technologies that we see are going to change agriculture, right? The example you used Ravi, it’s going to change the way we work from home and what have you, they’re going to change the nature of medicine, of healthcare. So, if you look at some, are you optimistic or are you pessimistic about 2021 and the years ahead?

Ravi Velloor: Absolutely, Oliver. I’m completely optimistic. I think we’re going to see there are green shoots that are really becoming evident. But I think in the second half of this year, you’re going to see an acceleration of that. There are countries where you can already see a form of herd immunity coming up, and you can see by the numbers of the COVID cases that have fallen that the recovery rates are impressive.

If you look at domestic travel in China, it’s almost back to 2019 levels, and the same with India. These big economies are going to get back the mojo, so to speak. And with innovation and technology—just in the second half of 2020, there were 11 unicorns spawned in India alone. The first half was gone, so to speak, but the second half was very active and energized, and a whole bunch of companies have come in. Just one country creating 11 unicorns in six months is a tremendous feat, even for a large country like India.

So, you’re going to see—combined with logistics—innovation and digitalization. I think we are in for a spurt of growth. Asian economies had been slowing before COVID-19, and COVID-19 just attacked what is already weak in a system. But the changes, the new energies that have been unleashed across Asia today should keep us going for at least another decade, as I see it.

Oliver Tonby: Do you agree, Kevin? Are you optimistic as well?

Kevin Krolicki: I think sort of professionally, I can’t be either optimistic or pessimistic, but I’m curious. And I think it’s easy to underestimate what network human intelligence can do over time, and how much innovation is possible. We talked about how—Ravi, you said it too—we were surprised by how much we could do in a networked operation in the newsroom. That makes me think, “Well, I’m not sure what the future of commercial real estate is.” But I also know that there must be very smart people working on exactly that problem. If you ask me this question a year from now, my pessimism or concern about the outlook might have been misplaced. So, I would say I’m curious and interested to see how applied innovation portends.

Oliver Tonby: If we zoom in on a couple of topics that I think do worry many of us, and I know the two of you too, which is climate change, climate risk, sustainability, and the other topic is inequality. Any thoughts on those two topics in Asia specifically?

Kevin Krolicki: I’ll start with climate. You mentioned this at the outset, and I think it’s true that you’re starting to see commitments from companies on climate that are both meaningful and transformative. It’s not an Asia example, but if you look at what GM has announced for 2035—the end of the tailpipe by 2035—in the automotive industry, that’s two or maybe three vehicle cycles traditionally. And for a company like GM, which just less than two years ago had been siding with the Trump administration against tougher environmental standards to say, “We’ll be done with internal combustion by 2035,” is a really remarkable turnaround, and I think very significant. There are other examples you can point to there. So, I think we’re seeing that those commitments are real; they’re not feel-good greenwashing, they’re fundamentally transformative in terms of the business in many cases.

Ravi Velloor: Oliver, on the issue of climate change, I think there has been a significant increase in the awareness of the issue with both companies and companies’ leadership around the region. The good thing is people recognize this is an issue that needs tackling. Look at the floods that are happening in the region. If you look at landslides—the one that caused the big accident this week in India, for instance, dam building—the environment is rising to the surface as a major issue to be tackled, and some CEOs are leading that move.

If you look at Standard Chartered, which is really a British bank with its biggest footprint in Asia, Bill Winters, who’s the CEO of Standard Chartered and on the carbon committee set up by Mark Carney, so much of his time and thought and thinking is spent on climate change these days. That actually impacts the bank and the way the bank lends to the kind of projects it lends to. And there are people calling it out. Greenpeace, for instance, today publishes a list of companies that are lending to non-sustainable sectors. They list them out, and people want to get on the right side of that list.

Also, if you look at big agriculture commodities group, like Olam, for instance, the current CEO, Sunny Verghese, is the current president of the WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development). WBCSD is a world sustainability council, and he inherited that position from Paul Polman of Unilever. So, you see the level of people who are committed to it. You talk to Sunny Verghese and he tells you he doesn’t want to see all the mess in the biggest agriculture commodities business in the world. He wants to see it as the most valuable business in that space. And the value he finds is by differentiation, doing things right, and using new technologies like blockchain to go from farm to refrigerator to identify goods that are made in sustainable ways.

So, I think on the whole, there is room for moderate optimism on this front. If we can convince people that there’s a moral imperative behind it, I think you could probably get some movement. And the West, Europe particularly, will have to help out with technology and being generous with technology to Asian companies to help them make this transition. If you just look at agricultural output in China, it takes about 500 kilos of fertilizer per hectare in China. Germans do it with 140 kilos. If you have technology that can be moved across without putting too heavy a charge on it, I think there’s a lot of room for regions to cooperate, for companies to cooperate, and hopefully, we’ll see merit in doing that.

Kevin Krolicki: Just to return to one point there—I think there is a lot of increasing enlightened, sort of self-interest among companies when we look at climate issues. The other issue you mentioned Oliver is the issue of social equity, equality, and it’s the monster bowl that the worst effects of COVID-19—economic and epidemiological—have been with the poorest people of this region and elsewhere. How will that be addressed both politically and economically? It’s harder to see movement on that, frankly; I think that has the potential to reshape the politics and the debate around a number of issues.

Ravi Velloor: Yes, I agree with you, Kevin, completely. On top of that, if you look at Hong Kong, for instance, the kind of rumbles that the territory has gone through in the last three to four years. A lot of it is because of inequality, and if that’s going to get worse as it has during COVID-19, those are going to be factors for businesses to consider.

Oliver Tonby: And it is sad. You mentioned the poorer are hit worse by COVID-19—the same is true when it comes to some of the effects of climate change, right? It is the poorer often hit even more by the effects, whether it is working in or living in areas that are going to see some heat waves, or it’s in flooding and what have you. I think this is something that needs to be looked at even more seriously going forward.

I think we are approaching the end of this session, and what I would love to ask each of you to round us out, so to speak, is: if you put yourselves in the shoes of some of the senior executives around the region of respective companies, what is one piece of advice you would have for them as you look into 2021? What are the things you are looking out for in the years to come?

Kevin Krolicki: I wouldn’t offer advice, but if I could be allowed a professional plug, I would say this: tell your story. I think that’s very important. Of course, I would say that it’s my job to help you tell your story and to examine it critically, but I think as technology evolves, as the operating environment changes, it’s imperative for businesses to be out there and telling their story. And Ravi and I are here to take your calls.

Ravi Velloor: That’s brilliant. I completely agree. It’s just that I can’t help adding a bit of advice to company CEOs, and that would be to monitor and look after the mental health of your employees. One of the things that COVID-19 has done is—in many ways because people are traveling less, eating out less, commuting less—a lot of diseases will actually come down, as I can see, and certainly accidents on the road have come down. Likewise, I think those who have not been unfortunate and gotten COVID-19, for a lot of people, physical health has actually improved.

But mental health, I’m not too sure about that. Whether it’s cabin fever, or children growing up without peers to fight with and laugh and play with, and who will likely have adjustment problems later, colleagues who are just holed up at home in cramped spaces. The office used to be a relief, especially in a place like Hong Kong, for instance, where you live in a shoe box. But the office was a place you come into, out in the open, and have more space around the office area.

So, I think there’s going to be an epidemic of mental health in this region coming up, and COVID-19 may have accelerated some of it. I think a good CEO would keep a very good close eye on that for his colleagues. I want to use this podcast to give a big shoutout to company leaders I admired tremendously. One is Patrick Gelsinger of VMware, he’s going to be the new CEO of Intel in a bit. Patrick gives away half his annual income to good causes. A lot of the money goes to Africa where hundreds of children are educated on Patrick’s money. He sees it as a modern best city. He sees it as part of his religion. And I mean, it’s emblematic of corporate leaders who not only want to do good by their families and by their nations, but for larger humanity.

Another person I admire in this context is François Locoh-Donou of F5 Networks, which is a Seattle-based software company. François is of Togolese French origin, and he’s an American citizen now. Some years ago, he opened the first cashew processing factory in Togo, West Africa. His intention was to give employment to 18-year-old women. Today, he has two of those plants operating in Togo and they employ 800 women. These are women who have tried to go into countries like Berlin, looking for jobs as helpers. But thanks to François, there are 800 women gainfully employed, and that’s lifted entire villages in that country. So, alongside sustainability issues, it’s wonderful to see these corporate leaders bringing their individual contributions to humanity.

Oliver Tonby: Very sound advice, Ravi. Let me just end by saying a huge thank you to Kevin Krolicki and Ravi Velloor. I think this has been a fascinating discussion. I wish we had much more time, because I think there are at least a dozen topics here. We could spend another 15-20 minutes on each of those topics, but we will save that for the future. Thank you, Kevin and Ravi, and have a great day everyone.

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