Boyden's Leadership Series Featuring New York Times Bestselling Author Alec Ross

Boyden’s Leadership Series presents discussions with business and thought leaders from organizations across the globe. The series focuses on topical issues that offer executives, political leaders and the media insight into current trends in business and talent management in the global marketplace.

This issue features Alec Ross, author of the New York Times Number One Best Seller The Industries of the Future and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Johns Hopkins University. In the interview, Ross discusses a variety of topics including themes from his bestselling book; qualities of exceptional leaders; conditions that have accelerated and hindered economic growth, both in the United States and abroad; and the future of hiring in an increasingly data-driven world.

Ross’s The Industries of the Future explores the technological and economic trends and developments that will shape the next 10 years, from cybersecurity and big data to the commercialization of genomics to the code-ification of money, markets and trust. Since its publication in February 2016, it has gone into a 6th printing and the rights have been sold for translation into 15 languages.

Ross also serves as an advisor to investors, corporations and government leaders, helping them understand the implications of macro factors emerging at the intersection of geopolitics, markets and increasingly disruptive network technologies. He served for four years as Senior Advisor for Innovation to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a role created for him by Clinton to maximize the potential of technology and innovation in service of America’s diplomatic goals. In this role, Ross acted as the diplomatic lead on a range of issues including cybersecurity, internet freedom, disaster response, and the use of network technologies in conflict zones.

Previously, Ross served as the Convener for the Technology, Media & Telecommunications Policy Committee on President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and was a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. In 2000, he and three colleagues co-founded a technology-focused social enterprise and grew it from modest origins in a basement into a global organization serving millions of low-income people, with programs on four continents. Recent recognitions include being named to Foreign Policy’s Top 100 Global Thinkers and receiving the US Department of State Distinguished Honor Award and Oxford University Internet & Society Award. Ross started his career as a sixth grade teacher in inner-city Baltimore through Teach for America.

Boyden: Your book outlines China and India’s exponential growth and ability to capitalize on globalization. Have the US and Europe been less competitive in recent years, or is it just a matter of these rapidly developing nations “catching up”to the west?

Ross: The US has had a very good track record over the last 25 years in terms of innovation and wealth creation. A lot of India and China’s rise is in part because American company leadership has chosen to invest there. Europe, on the other hand, we should consider in segments because the countries within it have not all performed the same way. For example, the UK has been substantially more active than Mediterranean Europe, and Northern Europe has been more active than Southern Europe. There are broad swaths of Europe that have not successfully pivoted from an industrial economy to an information-based economy.

I see a lot of complacency when I visit certain foreign capitals and I think the high rate of youth unemployment throughout much of Europe can be attributed to certain countries’ failure to adapt to the degree that they need to. The US is home to many of the innovations and companies where the future is being created. But that’s considerably less the case in most of Europe, certainly in Southern Europe.

Read the full interview here.

Thought leadership category