@The Consumer Goods Forum Blog

I’ve spoken and moderated a number of events over the years, but the Future Leaders Programme is something special. Not only is it a great place for aspiring business heads to learn from those that came before them, it’s also a great networking event, full of fun and contacts that last an entire career. Of course, I’m always surprised when it comes around, as it shortly will be. Can it really be the case that another year has passed since the last one?

The attending future leaders - as in not-yet-leaders but showing clear potential – are clearly not old people. They are uniquely capable of absorbing top-level experience from the stage and workshop sessions all day and it seems, then meeting with friends well into the night.

For the essence of the FLP is that contacts and friends are forged off-piste as the group socialises - as well as during the sessions and the stories provided by current CEOs.

And, this year, the CGF are bringing together some of the very best business minds from Scandinavia and around the world to feed the need for knowledge. From leading CEOs, like ICA Gruppen CEO Per Strömberg and Norrsken Foundation CEO Erik Engellau-Nilsson, to sustainability influencers like M&S Plan A director Mike Barry, to business innovators, like Karma co-founder Elsa Bernadotte and Just Arrived founder Andreas König, this year’s FLP is certain to inspire and showcase the real value behind doing business the right way.

However, it is not the CGF’s Global Summit. There are no ties. No hall full of CEOs. Once the workshop sessions unfold there are no jackets either, as sleeves get rolled up, the coloured paper, glue, photographs and flip charts come to the fore and as different groups compete manically across one of the afternoon sessions on their allotted task. Create your own store design. Produce your own world-beating online brand for tomorrow's start-up. No doubt in Stockholm this autumn a completely new challenge will be risen too, with all the manic enthusiasm you might expect from tomorrow's industry leaders.

Medals are handed out. There are cheers and much fist-pumping.

flp alex award winners design workshop

Crucially though, The Consumer Goods Forum pillars for action are being ever more woven into the programme and fabric of what people will gather to learn from.

And for this audience that is really crucial. As a journalist, I am - rightly - on the hunt for corporate blood wherever I can scent it. Clearly the areas of sustainability, environmental protection, food miles, consumer health, food safety and so forth are exactly where we tend to find it and no apologies made for that.

Like any area of business, food retail and production are going to regulated by various governments if they cannot or will not effectively regulate themselves. But, when major retailers and manufacturers have balance sheets bigger than many countries and delivery systems that wold make many major armies blush at their speed and efficiency, internal co-operation on putting right and working better together in these areas has never been more crucial.

And where better to think and work about that than with tomorrow's leaders in this area?

It has never mattered so much. Look at the Trump effect. Look at the recent stories around the explosion of plastic bottles littering our oceans and landscape. The next major food scare is coming from we know not where.

Take IT, energy production and food from the current global industrial construct and, well, there ain't a great deal left is there?

So, the call sign for Stockholm has never been more relevant. The stage to be set has never been more political. Whether business is comfortable with that, is, frankly irrelevant. You only had to see the content from this year's Berlin CGF Global Summit to know that business and politics have never been more overtly entwined. Business can, should, and must embrace and talk about this and in Berlin they did. In Stockholm, they will.

Berlin began with Germany's Finance Minister on Brexit and beyond. It book-ended with Condoleezza Rice's memorable keynote and interview.

In between a host of highly political calls to action and not least of the CGF Pillars. One example from many - the CEO of Mars explaining why his company is going with the Paris Accord on climate change whatever the White House may say or do.

That is the journey and destination business is travelling and - thank goodness - CEOs are increasingly losing their modesty about saying so and telling it as it is. Perhaps the CGF Pillars allow them a bit of cover to take all this on. But, for example, the action on HFCs alone shows it is working.

Expect a lot more of this onstage, in workshops and on the dance floors in between, coming up in Stockholm, so tomorrow's leaders can take these actions and make the necessary changes further along the line, and help ensure their own company’s sustainable growth and future.

It’s about building leaders for companies with purpose. Come join us.

alex thomson itn news profileThis post was written and contributed by:

Alex Thomson
Presenter & Chief Correspondent 
ITN's Channel 4 News

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