There is no lack of research, opinions and media coverage of the habits and attitudes of Millennials – otherwise known as Generation Y (typically defined as being born between 1980 and 1994).

Businesses have barely figured out how to market to and manage them. Now, they are confronted with a new generation of young people, Generation Z (typically defined as being born between 1995 and 2009), that are entering the consumer world and, imminently, the workplace.

Digital is in their DNA: These young people have already been labelled as screen addicts with the attention span of a grasshopper that are keen to save the world and fix the environmental mistakes of earlier generations.

But is this who they are and what they want?

We decided to ask them…

The Flourishing Microfinance Market: Past, Present and Future A conversation with Fabio Sofia, Head of Business Development, and John Staehli, Head of Marketing and Communication, Symbiotics

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Symbiotics company profile map. Source: Symbiotics.

March 2015

The World Bank estimates that half of the world's adult population – more than 2.5 billion people – does not have an account at a formal financial institution. Thanks to the rapid development of technology, today any point of sale can act as a bank and many people have since gained access to credit and banking services. However, with over one billion people still living on less than US$ 1.25 a day the role of microfinance and impact investment has been growing in importance in the past ten years. With sustainability being an increasing imperative for businesses and investors, the potential to make a positive impact on social and economic development is set to fuel continued rapid growth in the microfinance sector. To understand the dynamics of this important financial sector, we met with Symbiotics, one of the largest microfinance investment institutions with operations worldwide, to see what has changed since they launched their microfinance activities ten years ago – and what they expect ahead.

Catalyzing change: A new model of philanthropy  A conversation with Jesper Nygård, CEO of Realdania





October 2013:

Just as businesses are becoming more actively engaged in addressing social challenges and developing new business models to deliver on both purpose and profit, so too are leading non-profit organizations rethinking their role, operating models and ways of working. Giving money to deserving projects is no longer enough. Realdania, along with other leading philanthropic organizations worldwide, is driving a new model of catalytic philanthropy that actively engages multiple stakeholders and communities in realizing sustainable positive changes environmentally, socially and economically. In the last 13 years Realdania has supported philanthropic initiatives with a total project value of approximately EUR 3.7 billion. Of this amount, Realdania’s grants account for EUR 1.9 billion, while other project partners have financed the additional amounts. We recently had the chance to speak with Jesper Nygård, CEO for Realdania in Denmark, to explore what this new approach means in driving positive changes in Danish communities.


Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities in 2012, 40 (40%) are corporations, the same percentage as in 2011 but down 2% since 2010 (42%).  If you look at the top 150 economic entities in 2012, the proportion of corporations is 58%, slightly down from 2011 (58.7%) but at the same level as in 2010 (58%).


Executive Summary

Of the world's 100 largest economic entities in 2012, 40 (40%) are corporations, the same percentage as in 2011 but down 2% since 2010 (42%).  If you look at the top 150 economic entities in 2012, the proportion of corporations is 58%, slightly down from 2011 (58.7%) but at the same level as in 2010 (58%).

Since we started our analysis in 2009, Wal-Mart has consistently been the largest corporate economic entity in the world. However, in 2012, Wal-Mart was overtaken by both Royal Dutch Shell (largest) and Exxon (second largest) leaving it in third place. Royal Dutch Shell recorded 2012 revenues that exceeded the GDPs of 171 countries making it the 26th largest economic entity in the world. It ranks ahead of Argentina and Taiwan, despite employing only 90,000 people. The biggest industry group in terms of size remains the energy majors, buoyed by energy price increases over 2012, with revenues of the five largest players increasing between 25% and 46% over the year.  Combined, the revenues of these five companies (Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Sinopec and China National Petroleum) were the equivalent of 2.9% of global GDP in 2012.

Driving change through social innovation: A conversation with Stefan Crets, Executive Director of CSR Europe



March 2013

Before Stefan Crets became Executive Director of CSR Europe in 2011 he was a corporate social responsibility leader at Toyota Motor Europe. Now he is the Executive Director of the number one European business network for corporate social responsibility (CSR). Around 70 multinational corporations and 36 national partner organizations are part of CSR Europe. In total, the network reaches out to over 5,000 companies throughout Europe. CSR Europe launched the Enterprise 2020 initiative with emphasis on social innovation as a driver of corporate social responsibility.

Global Trends: How have perspectives on CSR changed in the last 10 to 15 years?

For a long time, CSR in Europe was primarily about how to manage the impact of your business: environmental impact, social impact, governmental impact. All in all it was fairly compliance driven in the sense of meeting certain standards. Usually companies saw CSR as a separate activity, not as part of their core business, but rather as a part of communications and public affairs.

It was only in 2005/2006 that perspectives started changing. Now we see an evolution in most leading companies, where CSR is becoming part of a more integrated management approach. For example the move from public affairs to corporate or strategic planning divisions means that you link managing impact to business management, including R&D, HR, production, marketing, sales and so on.

There is another, more recent evolution: if you really want to contribute to sustainability issues and to strengthen your business, it becomes more about social innovation. It’s about which products and services you can offer that contribute to sustainability issues on local, regional or even global levels. For example, the hybrid engine is a highly social innovation: it lowers the environmental impact for society while at the same time offering growth potential to the company. These kinds of innovations set future trends.

Driving Growth: A Conversation with Andrew Coulsen, CEO of Dimension Data: Europe

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We recently caught up with Andrew Coulsen, who has been on a journey since 2006 to drive growth for Dimension Data: Europe, to discuss the lessons learned during the journey as well as the key trends that will impact the future of the company.

Global Trends: What were the challenges that you faced at the start of your journey?

As CEO of Dimension Data: Europe, together with my team, we are responsible for approximately 2,200 employees, in 35 locations, across 10 countries within the region generating over US$1.3 billion in turnover. In 2005/6 we consolidated the reporting for UK and Continental Europe into one European region, nearly achieving breakeven profit.  This enabled us to take control of a fragmented business which historically had very unstable profits as well as high staff churn and create a consistent business model in an economically challenging market facing strong competition and technical innovation.


Redefining Wealth at Vancity, An Interview with Lory Block, Executive Director, Strategic Management, Vancity

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When we heard from Lory Block about how she and Vancity’s Executive Team were using Global Trends recently, the thing that made us really sit up was her description of Vancity’s vision: “Our vision is to redefine wealth.”  

Redefine wealth? Vancity celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2011, along with its best ever financial results.  As the largest credit union in Canada, it offers financial services to around 480,000 members who have entrusted the organization with C$16.1 billion of their assets.  So how can a financial services institution, which is in the business of making profits, be purpose-led? In a depressed economic climate, where bankers have been widely criticised for their role in the financial crisis and detachment from the challenging everyday reality of people trying to survive against a background of unemployment and debt pressures, what makes Vancity unique?

We called Lory to find out.


Does the current obsession with short-term, quarterly results limit our ability to bring long-term thinking into today’s reality? If so, what does it take to bring Global Trends into our business planning today? Emerging patterns of competition in many industries suggest that with the pace of change in the environment and customer demands, there is no room for a company to focus only on the short-term. The challenge is how to strike the right balance in bringing long-term thinking into a short-term obsessed world. This series of articles is designed to help leaders businesses understand and address this challenge by applying some specific tools that we have found useful in practice.

Scientific Horizons: A Conversation with Professor Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman-Elect, The Carlsberg Foundation

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The Carlsberg Foundation (Danish: Carlsbergfondet) was founded by J. C. Jacobsen in 1876 and owns 30% of Carlsberg Group. According to the charter the Foundation must ensure that the Basic Capital always exceeds 25% of the share capital of Carlsberg A/S with an entitlement to at least 51% of the votes in Carlsberg A/S. Presently the Foundations controls approximately 74% of the votes.The Foundation’s aim is to manage the Carlsberg Laboratory and to support Danish scientific research within the fields of natural sciences, mathematics, philosophy, the humanities and social sciences. It is run by five Trustees elected by and from the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Unusually for an organization that owns a publicly traded company, the Carlsberg Foundation aims to share its scientific advances within its industry and more broadly within Denmark and worldwide.

Global Trends recently had the chance to speak with Professor Flemming Besenbacher, who will be Chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation from the start of 2012, about the Foundation’s work and the importance of science in addressing the opportunities and challenges presented by global trends.