A few days ago, I learned via email that the World Economic Forum (WEF) had selected me to be part of the YGL (Young Global Leaders) class of 2012, this information is being made public today. The World Economic Forum among many other things organizes every year an annual meeting in Davos, without a doubt the most important economical summit in the world.
Every year a WEF committee selects 100 to 200 individuals of under 40 years to join the YGL community of 650 active members in the world (some very cool people in there). You can find the full list of the class of 2012 here: http://www.weforum.org/community/forum-young-global-leaders
I am honored and thankful to the World Economic Forum for nominating me to the Young Global Leader class of 2012. This is especially rewarding for me as I will actually be joining my wife, Jimena who was selected as a YGL in 2010 for a completely different field: Art & Education and I therefor know just how incredibly interesting it is to be part of the YGL community.
I have been working, creating or investing in Internet start-ups since I’m 21, sometimes failing and fortunately a little more often succeeding in some not so obvious places (for internet start ups) such as Portugal, Argentina, Romania and Spain. And wherever I have been active with my own start ups I have tried to help the local ecosystem and local entrepreneurs.
I am currently the co-founder and CEO of eRepublik Labs, a start up of 50 people based in Dublin, Madrid and Bucharest that invents game worlds such as www.erepublik.com . I am also the non-executive chairman of Trilulilu.ro Romania’s largest entertainment website and an angel investor in half a dozen more start-ups.
It is in part thanks to all the people I have met, worked with (good and bad) and always learned from that I now have this new range of opportunities that being a YGL gives you, so thank you. The rest is all my family and my wife’s making (and that of the person who submitted my profile to the selection committee).
I was asked by the WEF to answer a few questions that you can find below:
What are the characteristics of the next generation of leaders?
I believe that the characteristics of the next generation of leaders will be that:
- They are truly citizens of the world, people who have been exposed to and understand other cultures. Be it via travel, education or simply by being connected.
- They are capable of leveraging the power of a connected world not only for business objectives but also for social objectives
- They are less inclined to accept being limited by national borders or local rules something that has its advantages but also its risks
- They are more socially conscious and true embracers of transparency and social mobility, what counts is not where you come from but what you are doing and what you are capable of achieving.
What according to you are the challenges and opportunities of the next generation of leaders?
The opportunities in terms of education, access to information and connections that the Internet offers, mean that the next generation of leaders can come from anywhere on the globe and work and develop anywhere. There is much more geographical mobility than before.
This is a great opportunity, in particular leaders that come from developing and emerging countries. But it also creates the challenge both for future leaders and for countries on how to retain talent.
The playing field is not level and the challenge for the next generation of leaders will be to apply their skills for long term benefits in the countries or regions that they care about rather than just where the best and easiest opportunities are in the short term.
There are times where you have to leave to blossom as a leader but there are other times in particular times of crisis where staying is a necessity both for yourself and for your country. Dealing with this will I believe be a real challenge for the next generation of leaders.
What do you want to give and get form the YGL community?
To the YGL community, I want to give some of my time to be an engine that helps change how entrepreneurs are perceived in the old economies of Europe and drive not only a policy change but also a real attitude change towards entrepreneurs in these countries. Embracing entrepreneurialism is a force for social good and change.
I also hope it will be a great platform to meet new people I can share with and learn from.
I would also like to congratulate Martha Lane Fox (UK digital Champion appointed by the UK government who was the co-founder of lastminute.com and my boss when I started my career there) and is also in this YGL class of 2012. Martha and Brent gave me my first chance at lastminute.com and Brent (also a YGL but from a previous year) also helped me start eRepublik Labs.