Baratta Center Addresses the Future of Global Business During Inaugural Conference
What is the future of business in a connected yet disengaged world? Experts, policymakers, and members of the Georgetown University community came together at the McDonough School of Business to explore this question during the inaugural Future of Global Business Conference. Hosted by the Baratta Center for Global Business, the conference brought together leaders from across industries to address topics such as global value chains, cross-border investing, artificial intelligence, and the future of globalization.
The Future of Global Business Conference represented the first major event of the Baratta Center, which launched earlier this year through the generosity of Joseph (B’93) and Abigail (SFS’96) Baratta to advance the school’s ambition as the world’s premier destination to study global business.
“We’re at an important crossroads in global business where the very efficacy, morality, and need for global multinational institutions is being questioned,” said Baratta, global head of private equity at Blackstone, during his opening remarks at the conference. “The work that the center will do sheds an important light on the fact that global business is a societal good that drives job creation, global growth, and global understanding of one another.”
The conference featured conversations with internationally renowned leaders in their fields, including a fireside chat with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who shared insights on the current and future state of globalization, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, and trade dynamics with China. The discussion was moderated by Ricardo Ernst, Baratta Chair in Global Business, and Anil Khurana, executive director and research professor for the Baratta Center.
“Not everything can be made in America – it’s not economic, it’s not competitive, it’s not a reality,” said Raimondo. “So what we have to do is make what we need to make in America, we need to work with our friends and allies around the globe in countries that have a rule of law – good infrastructure, places we can trust, places with transparency – and look to make sure we have some resilience.”
Attendees also heard from Moisés Naím, distinguished fellow of the Carnegie Endowment and former minister of trade and industry for Venezuela, during a keynote conversation about the future of globalism and globalization with Nuno Limao, Wallenberg Chair in International Business and Finance at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.
When asked about the key issues facing the world in terms of globalization, Naím attributed them to “sticker shock” – the impact of costs related to decarbonization and global climate issues and the real costs of detangling alliances with China, the United States, and the rest of the world.
But Naím says the “shock” can sometimes be the catalyst for global collaboration, as highlighted by the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The Europeans showed up in a way that was effective, it was quick, it was sustainable – all of a sudden Europe discovered it was a superpower,” said Naím. “They are using their superpowers, which is essentially the capacity to act together and make tough difficult decisions in a way that matters. That’s good news – I want those values at the table where the decisions are made.”
Corporate and government representatives led the first panel discussion of the day to explore how geopolitics, risks, currency shifts, inflation, taxes and regulations, climate change, and other factors are expected to shape the future of global and cross-border investing. Moderated by Jennie Bai, professor of finance at Georgetown McDonough, the audience heard from Baratta; Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics at the Stanford Hoover Institution and former governor of the Federal Reserve; and Stephanie von Friedeburg (SFS’87), managing director of capital markets at Citi.
All three panelists agreed that a combination of the high-interest rate environment, emphasis on reshoring, and geopolitical risks were channeling investments to the United States and a few other strong economies, leading to capital scarcity elsewhere. Additionally, the panelists suggested that better dialogue, a focus on upliftment, and maintaining operational control frameworks were essential for improving the relationship between business and government leaders.
Ernst then moderated a panel about how companies, policymakers, and investors should respond to value chain and ecosystem changes with Andrés Gluski, CEO of AES; Jennifer Morgan, head of portfolio operations at Blackstone; and Amer Battikhi, senior vice president of platforms, technologies, and software solutions at Jacobs.
“There’s not one business in any industry out there that is not also a technology company today, and if not, they’re at risk for disruption,” said Morgan when addressing the impact of technology on the business ecosystem. “Technology has helped a lot of these larger-scale companies redefine and reshape themselves in new ways. Just because you’re fast, if you’re not profitable, how are you investing in things like resiliency or manufacturing or your customers?”
The last panel discussion focused on AI, people, and the future of global business with Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, and Dan Diasio, global artificial intelligence consulting leader at EY. Alberto Rossi, professor and director of the AI, Analytics, and Future of Work Initiative at Georgetown McDonough, moderated the conversation.
The event concluded with keynote discussions from Naím and Raimondo and the announcement of a new Global Citizen Award, with the first winner to be recognized in fall 2024. In line with the focus of the Baratta Center, the annual award will honor an outstanding Georgetown alumnus who exemplifies leadership, innovation, and impact in advancing the positive aspects of globalization and serving the common good.
“We are one of few schools in the world that can truly say it is in our DNA to find new ways to build global knowledge, apply it effectively, and serve the common good,” said Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair at Georgetown McDonough. “As a Jesuit institution, we see it as our responsibility to transform global challenges into opportunities, so that businesses serve themselves and the broader world in a meaningful way.”