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WEF: a forum for innovation, equality and change



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Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is held in the Swiss city of Davos. One year, quite by chance, I found myself sitting next to one of Africa’s most successful businessmen.

We started discussing the benefits of LED lighting: how it can save costs in bills and how it needs far less maintenance than ordinary lighting. We then started speculating what it would mean for a large African country if the whole nation switched to LEDs. These ‘big picture’ discussions started purely because we bumped into each other at breakfast.


This is what makes the WEF one of the world’s most important crucibles of power. It is not just a place where political leaders, CEOs and the world’s most influential stakeholders set out their vision for a more prosperous, healthier and safer world. The real power lies in what we are able to actually do there, the knowledge we can pass on and absorb, the partnerships we can foster, the brilliant brains we can enlist to make the world a better place.


It’s not just the Swiss city of Davos where this happens, though the media’s attention is usually focused on those few annual days each year where the world’s greatest thinkers gather. All year there are WEF meetings around the world and Philips is fortunate enough to be one of the organization’s strategic partners.


We have always understood that to truly change people’s lives we can only do so in partnership with others – governments, academics, stakeholders. The best way to ensure that customers benefit from Philips’s unrivalled innovation, be it bespoke hospital scanners or environmentally-friendly technology, is for us to collaborate with country-specific organizations who understand their problems better than anyone.

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The issues at the core of Philips’s mission and vision are problems that no single company can hope to conquer, which is why we need multiple parties to formulate solutions. Our populations are ageing and we must care for them better; our cities will become even more crowded yet we must improve the quality of life; we are the custodians of the planet and its dwindling resources for future generations.

WEF is the sort of convening platform where these significant issues are discussed, debated and solved. It’s a place where Philips can persuade governments and others to invest in our innovations and lead the changes that society needs.


For some years I’ve understood that smart companies can’t do it by themselves, that some problems demand different perspectives and the input of disparate skills. I was once lucky enough to be selected as one of the WEF’s Young Global Leaders, a prestigious group of thinkers. That honour showed to me the value of forming close relationships with other key stakeholders and why opinions must be openly shared and debated before they can be acted upon.


More than anything, it showed me that the true spirit of the WEF is equality. In the end, we are all part of the same melting pot and we all want the same thing – to make the world a better place. And we must do so together – even if it is just over a cup of coffee.

ronald de jong

Ronald de Jong  

Executive Vice President, Chief Market Leader and member of the Executive Committee

Ronald de Jong joined Philips in 1990. He held a number of positions in Supply and Service Operations and Supply Chain Management before becoming Managing Director and Member of the Board of Philips GmbH in Hamburg in 2004.


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