On Monday, April 1, 2019, EU Business School (EU) welcomed CEO of Google Belgium and Luxembourg, Thierry Geerts, to the Bayerischer Hof Hotel as part of its inspirational ‘Learning from Leaders’ series. During a captivating two-hour session, Mr. Geerts delivered a powerful and engaging presentation to the audience, whom he addressed as “citizens of Digitalis, a new country of 4 billion people connected to each other thanks to the internet”.
Mr. Geerts described how technology has transformed society dramatically over recent decades. For example, the smart-phone – which has only been around for little more than a decade – now provides everything from our morning alarm to our GPS; it has become, in fact, our “window on the world”. But the rapid pace of change often provokes unease and fear, particularly with regard to the effects of technological advances on jobs. However, Mr. Geerts suggests that we should reject the fear, and embrace instead the enormous possibilities for improving the world that technology can provide.
“Don’t be afraid of [digital transformation]. These are new tools to solve our problems.”
CEO of Google Belgium and Luxembourg
For Mr. Geerts, it is essential that Europe takes a leading role in the digital revolution and its potential for impacting society positively. He warned that “in Europe, we are living in a paradox: people are using technology in their day-to-day lives and business doesn’t. This is a risky place.” However, he notes that Europe is already the “world champions in B2B technology” and points out that the new generation of talented engineers and developers are not in Silicon Valley but in Europe. “We are only at the beginning of the digital revolution,” he enthused, “there are so many things to do.” He urged the audience to consider the life-saving potential of using bots to assist surgeons and how self-driving cars could reduce traffic jams and accidents.
Following the presentation, Peter Vanham, lead writer and US media lead at the World Economic Forum, interviewed Mr. Geerts, who expanded on the tech optimism he describes in his book Digitalis. Guests had the opportunity to put their questions to Mr. Geerts during a Q&A session, in which Mr. Geerts responded thoughtfully on a range of topical issues from data ownership to blockchain.
This conference was part of the influential ‘Learning from Leaders’ series which plays a key role in the exclusive, hands-on, experiential business education provided by EU Business School. This gives students the opportunity to gain insights from top executives into the latest business trends, strategic concepts and the day-to-day running of some of the world’s biggest organizations.