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ECONOMICS

The World Economy in 2018 In the tenth year since the start of the global financial crisis, the US economy reached a new high-water mark, and the global economy exceeded expectations. But...


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EDITORIAL

TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING:

The Potential Impact on Society

Ezio Marco Siepi editor@lefonti.com

H

ow can we be sure that economic progress is really making a difference in our everyday lives? What is the real potential of the technological revolution which is affecting us every day, and what are the real prospects for millennials and those under 30 in today’s work force? Can we really be sure that today’s society is better than it was in the past? How can citizens feel really represented if what they really believe in is never taken into consideration? Last year’s electoral victory of Puidgemont’s separatist party in favor of Catalogna’s independence from Spain was a clear example to what many believed was the emblematic expression of democratic rights; however, for Catalogna, the political price of independence could far outweigh its economic gains. So how can we be sure that we are approaching the political and economic issues at hand being at the same time cognizant of their repercussions? Economic sustainability, technological innovation, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, bikenomics and Industry 4.0: some of the key buzz-words for 2018 could be considered the synthesis of how developed countries are being able to respond to citizens about their future, or are they? Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” One can prepare his o her lifetime with a solid vision of his prospects knowing in advance how to harness the opportunities. Education begins at school but can continue on throughout a lifetime. Terms like “Learning by doing” and “lifelong learning” are all imperatives which can allow us the opportunity to understand how we can really make a difference in our future. Regardless of where we live, what we do, or how old we are, we must believe in our potential, understanding our limits but realistically aspiring to reach our predetermined objectives. If we learn more about “learning”, our knowledge of the key issues at hand for 2018 and beyond will allow us to make that difference when policy-makers will need to reflect our interests on the geopolitical stage. Our increased knowledge will not necessarily always lead us to optimistic results, but at least we will have acquired the knowledge to proceed pragmatically in the pursuit of what we really want to achieve, for our families, for our communities, and for what we really believe in.

Let’s take a look at how technology can help us learn better and more efficiently in the future, so that we can really be considered well-informed and make a difference in our opinions and what policy-makers representing us can consider. As we become increasingly dependent on technology in every single part of our lives, what are we gaining and losing as a society? How are rapidly evolving new technologies reshaping our world — and what this change portends for the future. Too often, we avidly embrace new technology on the mistaken assumption that institutions and consumer or industry watchdogs are monitoring its release. We believe others will sound the alarm if they detect likely hazards. But the pace with which technology has advanced is surpassing the limited capacity of regulating agencies, and it’s up to users to fill the vacuum. So, can we be vigilant enough in safeguarding personal information as we participate in the new culture of extreme sharing and online commerce? We need to think about the ramifications of becoming entirely dependent on electronic devices, gadgets using artificial intelligence., and other technological crutches. Could tracking our “user journeys” as we shop online or stream movies and television programs lead to limited choices down the road? Should we allow our doctors to alter our DNA in order to cure a hereditary disease? These are all questions which could be posed; however, we need to be cognizant of and able to respond to the rapidly changing political and security context in a technologically invasive society. All in all, technology improvements must be embraced realistically and never taken for granted. If we believe we are in a position to enhance the learning process, believing wholeheartedly in what we want to achieve and the way we want to achieve it, then we can accept learning as way to stay informed, from grade school on through to adulthood, in all nations and for all peoples, so we can make the difference in the political and economic choices that matter, so that we can say whether an economic or political policy decision which affects us has indeed led to a lifestyle improvement or not without denying our knowledge of its potential repercussions. Let’s make 2018 a year to remember – for the good things! WEIE

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ECONOMICS

FOOD

WORLD AFFAIRS

CONTENTS

How Britain Could Change Its Mind About Brexit

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Global Ambitions for US Specialty Food

26

The World Economy in 2018

10

China’s Great City Rivalries

16

Fancy Food Exhibitors Speak Out

30

The International Economic Consequences of Mr. Trump

32

Streamlining Asset Protection in the Digital Era

36

Reliability in International Legal Assistance

40

Learning through Innovation

46

Premium Rate Numbers for a Wealth of Services

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Taking Dubai by Storm

SPOTLIGHT

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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY 54

CES 2018: The 20 Hottest Products

60

Europe’s Chance to Lead on Robotics and AI

62

Machines Can’t Dream

BUSINESS & FINANCE FOOD

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Baking Technology Made Easy and Environmentally Sustainable Worldwide Publisher/Director Guido Giommi Editors, America: Rosalyn Williams Editor, Asia: Eric Davide Editors: Ezio Marco Siepi Laura Lamarra Simona Vantaggiato Alessia Rosa Alessia Liparoti Claudia Chiari

International Subscription Kate Rios Art Director Nick Lowen Graphic Design Giulia Andreoli Mary Thompson Editorial Offices: London, Milan, New York, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong

© Project Syndicate 2018 World Excellence International Edition Volume 27 Copyright © 2018

All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the prior written consent of World Excellence. Information is based

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Good Times at Last

AWARDS 67

Le Fonti Awards Dubai 13th December 2017

solely on sources believed to be reliable, though the accuracy has not been verified by World Excellence. Neither the information in World Excellence International Edition nor the opinions expressed should be taken as a solicitation for investment. World Excellence accepts no liability for actions based on the information herein.

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WORLD AFFAIRS

EUROPEAN POLITICS

How Britain Could Change Its Mind About Brexit Nigel Farage, the former UK Independence Party leader, now says that the June 2016 Brexit referendum could be overturned. He’s right, and the first requirement is to dispel the aura of inevitability surrounding Britain’s withdrawal from Europe. Anatole Kaletsky

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ONDON - Will 2018 be

the year when the United Kingdom changes its mind about leaving the European Union? Conventional wisdom says that stopping Brexit is impossible. But what did conventional wisdom say about Donald Trump? Or Emmanuel Macron? Or, for that matter, the original Brexit referendum? In revolutionary times, events can go from impossible to inevitable without ever passing through improbable. Brexit was such an event, and its reversal could be another. Just ask Nigel Farage, the former UK Independence Party leader, who has suddenly said that the June 2016 Brexit referendum could be overturned. “The Remain side are making all the running,” Farage warned his fellow hardline Leavers this weekend. “They have a majority in parliament, and unless we get ourselves organized we could lose the historic victory that was Brexit.”

THE VOTES FOR BREXIT AND TRUMP ARE OFTEN DESCRIBED TODAY AS AN INELUCTABLE RESULT OF DEEP SOCIOECONOMIC FACTORS like inequality or

globalization. In some ways, this description is right. Political upheavals of some kind were to be expected after the 2008 economic crisis, as I have argued for years. But there was nothing inevitable

about the specific upheavals that happened. Brexit, like Trump, was a contingent outcome of small perturbations in voter behavior. If just 1.8% of Britons voted differently, Brexit would now be a forgotten joke-word. If Hillary Clinton’s popular majority of three million votes was distributed slightly differently among the states, the phrase “President Trump” would be as laughable today as it was in January 2016. To stop Brexit in the year ahead, four similarly modest shifts in behavior need to happen. Public opinion must shift slightly further against the Brexit decision, which is already viewed as “wrong in hindsight” by a 4% point margin. Politicians who privately detest Brexit must speak out publicly. Reasoned opposition to government policies must be recognized again as a hallmark of democracy, not an act of treason. And the sense that Brexit is inevitable must be dispelled. These requirements are interdependent. Politicians will speak out only if they sense public opinion shifting; but public opinion

will shift only with credible political leadership. Politicians are cowed into silence if all opposition is branded as anti-democratic. And if Brexit appears inevitable, why should voters bother to think again?

THE SENSE OF INEVITABILITY, OPINION POLLS AND FOCUS GROUPS SHOW, IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OBSTACLE TO A REVERSAL. About 30% of British

voters oppose the EU so passionately that they will always back leaving, regardless of the economic costs, just as Trump’s “base” will always support “their” president regardless of how he behaves. But these diehard Euroskeptics would never have won a majority without some 20% of voters who cared little about Europe, but treated the referendum as a protest vote. Many of these low-conviction voters are now dismayed that Brexit has distracted attention from their real grievances about health, inequality, low wages, housing, and other issues. Yet, for this very reason, they want the inevitable departure from Europe to happen as quickly as

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WORLD AFFAIRS

possible so that the country can get election will be dashed. If, on the a specific Act of Parliament to back to business as usual.1 other hand, Labour decided to fight approve whatever deal is negotiated Now suppose these voters began to Brexit, public opinion would rapidly with the EU. This means that any believe that Brexit, far from being shift. Brexit plan that arouses serious inevitable, might never happen. Opposition to Brexit would start opposition, either from hardline They would demand nationalists or from that politicians DIPLOMACY pro-European “should stop banging Tories, could be IF A DEMOCRACY CANNOT CHANGE on about Europe” used to trigger a ITS MIND, IT CEASES TO BE A DEMOCRACY new referendum. and start dealing - David Davis, British Conservative Party with the people’s real Following this concerns. breakthrough, the The sense of inevitability could to be treated as a natural feature first serious cross-party campaign be dispelled by recent shifts in of democratic politics. Labour explicitly aiming to stop Brexit, and the internal politics of both the would start to benefit from the not merely to mitigate damage by Conservative government and the government’s negotiating blunders. seeking a “softer” divorce deal, will Labour opposition. And the sense of Brexit’s inevitability be launched later this month. would vanish. To succeed, this campaign will need That, in turn, would give courage to LABOUR HAS BEGUN TO to persuade disillusioned Remainers pro-European Conservatives. Tory that Brexit is not inevitable. It will REALIZE THAT ITS ONLY MPs are unlikely to vote against need to show protest voters that POSSIBLE ROUTE BACK TO their party leadership if the absence whatever their problems, Brexit POWER IS BY OPPOSING of Labour opposition allows the is not the answer. It will need to BREXIT. Detailed analysis of the government to win anyway. If, 2017 election returns has shown convince Labour politicians that however, concerted opposition from that Labour’s unexpected gains collaboration with Brexit is electoral Labour created a genuine possibility were due almost entirely to affluent suicide, and persuade pro-EU Tory of stopping Brexit, Tory MPs who young voters whose motivation was rebels that a rebellion would not be put national interest ahead of party the hope of derailing Brexit. Had futile. Finally, it will need European loyalty would find themselves praised it not been for these anti-Brexit leaders to state unequivocally that voters, Prime Minister Theresa May for their mettle, not ridiculed for folly. Britain is legally entitled to change would have won the widely predicted They might even calculate that their its mind about leaving. These landslide.1 own careers would prosper if their requirements are challenging, but If Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, party reconciled itself to Europe. not impossible. now becomes “the handmaiden of David Davis, the pro-Brexit Tory Brexit,” in Tony Blair’s memorable THIS CHAIN OF EVENTS NOW who is now leading the UK’s Brexit phrase, by shying away from effective negotiations, once said that, “If a SEEMS TO BE STARTING. opposition, these new voters will feel In December, May lost her first democracy cannot change its mind, betrayed, the party will split between important Brexit battle, when Labour it ceases to be a democracy.” Britain the Marxists and centrists, and its MPs united with 12 Tory rebels is still a democracy, and it can still hopes of ever winning a general to pass an amendment requiring change its mind about Brexit. WEIE

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WORLD AFFAIRS

THE CHINESE ECONOMY

CHINA’S GREAT CITY RIVALRIES In recent years, as China’s economy has become increasingly reliant on high-tech and modern service industries, jobs and growth have become concentrated in a few high-productivity cities. In fact, it is this inter-urban competition that has driven China’s economic transformation. Zhang Jun

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HANGAI - China’s traditional

industries are suffering. In the last five years, the country’s northeastern region – once a hub of basic industries like oil and steel – has been facing accelerating decline, as have the rich mineral resource centers in places like Hebei and Inner Mongolia. Over the last decade, about one-third of China’s 600 cities have contracted. The prospects of dispersed rural populations far away from China’s

megacities have diminished as well. But all this bad news is actually a result of what is widely considered very good news: China’s economic transformation is progressing. In recent years, China’s economy has becoming increasingly reliant on new high-tech and modern service industries, including mobile Internet, artificial intelligence, smart cars, drones, robots, virtual reality, wearable device manufacturing, green technology, and

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more. Meanwhile, jobs and growth have become increasingly concentrated in some high-productivity megacities, making them magnets for skilled labor and venture capital – and leaving hubs of traditional industries in the dust.

THE RAPID GROWTH IN CHINA’S HIGH-TECH INDUSTRIES WAS THROWN INTO SHARP RELIEF AT THE BEGINNING OF 2018 at the annual Consumer Elec-


WORLD AFFAIRS

tronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Chinese firms accounted for 40% of all exhibitors – a figure that would have been unthinkable just five years ago. Many of those firms are from Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone and now the country’s most innovative city. But Shenzhen is not alone. Several other Chinese cities – for example, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Xi’an – are also working to foster cutting-edge industries. In fact, these cities’ competition to generate stronger growth than their counterparts – a contest sustained by the political incentives the central government has long provided to local officials – has played a driving role in China’s rapid industrialization and ongoing structural transformation. In the short term, it is difficult to assess precisely the role of interurban competition in promoting the development of China’s high-tech industries, though there are undoubtedly some negative effects. But, over the long term, the outcomes of such horizontal competition are generally positive, owing to the incentives it creates for local government officials to think creatively, experiment effectively, and pursue forward-looking policies. Indeed, studies carried out by economists, including me, have shown that competition among local governments made a major contribution to the rapid industrialization that China experienced in the 1990s. A key reason for this is that land – which plays an

important role in early industrialization – is owned and managed largely by local governments in China. So Chinese county governments used land as leverage in order to attract foreign-direct investment, particularly in the Pearl River Delta and the Yangtze River Delta in the1980s and 1990s. Over the last decade, such regional competition has persisted, but has increasingly been led by major cities. Rising wages and sharply declining returns to capital in traditional industrial sectors have underscored the need to accelerate modernization – an imperative that has been reflected consistently in the central government’s reform strategies. So China’s major cities have been fostering innovative and hightech industries and modern services in the new economy.

ONE OF CHINA’S PREMIER MEGACITIES HAS LONG BEEN SHANGHAI. But, in recent years,

Shenzhen has become a tech hub, and Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based, is a rising star in the digital economy. Shenzhen’s GDP reached some CN¥2.2 trillion ($343 billion) in 2017, higher than that of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, and surpassed only by Shanghai and Beijing. Now, officials in Shanghai and Guangzhou (the capital of Guangdong province, where Shenzhen is located) have added motivation to pursue new growth- and productivityenhancing policies, including upgraded initiatives to attract entrepreneurship and human capital.

CHINA’S MAJOR CITIES HAVE CREATED AND IMPLEMENTED POLICY PACKAGES AIMED AT SUPPORTING INNOVATIVE START-UPS, as well as a series of

measures to attract talent, including individual tax incentives, home-purchase subsidies, and attractive health-care and education benefits. The leaders of several big cities, including Shanghai, have lately called for a stronger commitment to such policies to be incorporated into broader efforts to improve the local business environment. Such comprehensive strategies have enhanced further the role of China’s major cities in advancing structural change, and contributed to major shifts in the sources of economic dynamism of China. Of course, such competition carries risks – in particular, short-sighted efforts to boost growth in ways that exacerbate misallocation of resources, overcapacity, and high financial leverage. But Beijing’s government, for one, is attempting to mitigate these risks, by shifting its focus from encouraging the highest possible growth rate to ensuring higher-quality growth. In most cases, such sustainable growth will arise from major cities’ pursuit of high-tech and modern service industries. China’s cities remain vital sources of economic growth for the country. While some will undoubtedly struggle, others will serve as critical engines of China’s economic transformation, fueling dynamism across the entire global economy. WEIE

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FOOD

WINTER FANCY FOOD 2018

Global Ambitions for US Specialty Food Solidariety and Partnerships in the Food Industry are not an Option. Rosalyn Williams

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AN FRANCISCO - With over 1,400 exhibitors and over 25,000 visitors, the Winter edition of the Fancy Food Show held in San Francisco from January 21-23 is the largest trade fair on the West Coast of North America for the specialty food industry. The Specialty Food Association, a notfor-profit trade association for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs, owns and produces the show. Today the Association has 3,600+ member companies worldwide and represents all segments of the $127 billion U.S.

specialty food industry. The Fancy Food Show has helped launch such brands as Ben & Jerry’s, Stonewall Kitchen, Walker’s Shortbread, Tate’s Bake Shop, ZICO Coconut Water and Vermont Creamery. WEIE had the chance to speak with a number of exhibitors on the floor, from around the world, as well as the President of the Specialty Food Association, Phil Kafarakis, who granted WEIE this exclusive interview. Being not only the largest but also the very first trade fair of the year in the

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food and beverage industry makes the Winter Show the reference point for new industry trends, according to Mr. Kafarakis.

HE ADDED THAT AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE TRADE FAIR IS THE ORGANIZATION’S QUALIFICATION PROCESS WHICH CREATES A BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS EVENT.

The Show caters to the entire spectrum of buyers, from retail store to brokers, importers, wholesalers, distributors and more.


FOOD Chris Nemchek Strategy and Long-Term Vision for the US Specialty Foods Industry What are the keys to the success of the Winter edition of the Fancy Food Show? The specialty foods industry has grown enormously in the past 5 years and is expected to grow even more so, with strong growth through 2025; “we are driven by the success in the industry which is expected to continue through the near future.” Another key to the WFFS success is innovation “We qualify all of our buyers before attending the show. That means that they are put through a process to make sure they are qualified to buy products on display at the show”. We attract buyers by giving them a complete experience, where the show is not just an event to buy products on display but a venue “where we can show them the trends in the market and provide them with a complete learning experience to help them and their businesses in the future”. You spoke about innovation in the market. How do you envision the changes in the trade fair industry and how do you think you can benefit from partnerships with other companies and organizations as a way to benefit from innovation most? Mr. Nemchek began by emphasizing that the Specialty Food Association (SFA) is going through a deep transformation and Mr.

Kafarakis’ recent appointment as president is good example as “he has instituted a lot of change for us”. Today, partnerships are a strategic priority of the organization. First and foremost, he mentioned that the SFA has a strong partnership with Seeds & Chips, the leading Food innovation summit based in Milano which he said are leaders in innovation and sustainability practices in agriculture. Mr. Nemchek added that the SFA has also developed a well-established partnership with SIAL, an analogous organization to the European Specialty Food Organization, which is representing a group of exhibitors whose objective is to display those food trends which have been and are being developed in Europe. “Our objective is to find partnerships with organizations which are able to provide content and expertise to our buying community, which is something that has, until now, been lacking,” declared Mr. Nemchek. He also added that this makes it easier to attract new buyers. What are the main differences between the Winter Fancy Food held in January in San Francisco and the Summer Show held in June/July in New York City? The Summer Show is much larger, with 365,000 sq. feet of filled exhibition space and is much

older (20 years older) than the San Francisco Show which is still growing and has a lot to offer. “There tend to be more foreign exhibitors from the Pacific rim and Asia at the San Francisco Show than in New York.” He also added that the San Francisco edition attracts a more local buying community, with buyers mostly coming from Northern California and the North Pacific coast. What do you think is the future of the Italian food and beverage market presence in the United States? According to Mr. Nemchek, Italy (under the responsibility of the Italian Trade Commission-ITC) has always been capable of bringing companies which are “sophisticated but at the same time whose products respond to US consumer eating habits.” “They make the export process easy because they know the US market very well”. He also emphasized that the ITC invests in the promotion of their companies in the US market so they help them grow and seek stability.

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FOOD The Specialty Food Association Strives to Build a Community

When he was asked what was the innovative characteristic of the fair, he explained that their objective is to educate companies, both buyers and exhibitors, and to help them learn about the marketplace, consumer trends, and how best to take advantage of the Winter Show. Mr. Kafarakis pointed out that both buyers and exhibitors often meet at the learning sessions and create networking opportunities to last beyond the event itself.

WORDS OF WISDOM WERE ALSO EXPRESSED ON BEHALF OF THE ITALIAN EXHIBITORS

of the fair, thanks to their authenticity, artisanal food processing, integrity, passion, and social responsibility. These are all qualities that Mr. Kafarakis defined as fundamental for the success of Italian products on the US market. “Italy can grow in the specialty food segment by explaining and having a story that resonates with all the buyers”, he said, emphasizing that the wide range of products offered in the Mediterranean diet has a very strong appeal to Americans’ healthier eating habits. He concluded that the relationship between Italian exhibitors, represented

BECKY RENFRO BORBOLLA is vice president and coowner of Renfro Foods, a family-owned manufacturer of specialty foods based in Texas. Becky currently serves as Vice-Chair of the SFA Board of Directors. WEIE asked if the show’s motto “Shaping the food of the future” implies more innovation for the SFA. Ms. Renfro explained that innovation is important but companies want quality first and foremost: “they want to know the story behind the product and company: who is running the company, how it is made up, what values they share and how they are contributing to the community”. Ms. Renfro confirmed that the SFA has a magazine which includes stories from members and their contribution to the community. “When we had the

fires in the Sonoma valley”, she declared, “our member chefs cooled food for the volunteer firefighters and for the families who lost their homes.” She emphasized that the SFA is “a really large community and are always working to reach out and help each other.”

by the Italian Trade Commission, and the US Specialty Food Association has been positioned to provide even stronger results by the Summer of 2019, according to a yearly plan that was stipulated between both parties. Overall, the international presence at the Winter Fancy Food Show cannot be underestimated: “We are the only trade fair for the food industry in America to bring in the international pavilions”, declared Mr. Kafarakis, stating that San Francisco has over 30 countries represented, while the Sum-

mer Fancy Food Show, which is held each June in New York City, comprises 65 country pavilions. The culture and social benefits of the communities present at the fair, including their ethnicity, are also important winning characteristics of the fair. “A very big part of our strategy is allowing for people from different backgrounds and ethnicities to get together and share our community; it allows buyers to see what is going in the rest of the world; food brings everybody together!” WEIE

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FOOD

WINTER FANCY FOOD 2018

Fancy Food Exhibitors Speak Out International Cutting-Edge Strategies at the Heart of the Specialty Food Industry Alessia Liparoti

Italfoods A Taste Of Italian Delicacies on the West Coast

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EIE met with Richard Armanino and Massimo Navarretta at the stand of Italfoods, an important west coast distributor of Italian specialty food in the United States. Mr. Armanino, Sales Director, explained that they been exhibiting Italian specialty retail and food service products at the WFF for the past 40 years and that they are proud to continue representing their Italian suppliers. Mr. Navarretta, owner of one of the supplier companies called Solo Qualità, is a wine importer. WEIE asked Mr. Armanino what are Italfoods’ goals for the years ahead: “to integrate new products, pioneer new ideas, and continue to help their represented company gain market share”, he replied. When asked about innovation and the requests from consumers with different expectations and tastes, Mr. Armanino revealed that there is a shift in market requests and that Italfoods needs to adapt to them. He insisted that the company “will continue to promote the Italian, mediterranean diet” which he boasts as “one of the healthiest diets in the world”. Mr. Navaretta added that the innovative spirit of the Italians “with an eye on the future” is a winning characteristic that has helped Italian companies continue to gain successful market share in the United States. He concluded that Italy’s important culinary skills derive from their ability to use new techniques integrating them with traditional ones, and to give the utmost importance to using the right ingredients when cooking; “the rest is imagination and the Italians have never lacked in imagination”

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FOOD

Demedici Imports and Roland Foods - Part 1 Choosing Exquisite Delicacies from Abroad

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EIE met with two important East coast buyers to understand better which foreign food products are of greatest interest to the US consumer. The first company, Roland Foods, is a New York based specialty foods company founded in 1934 that operates as a platform to connect food producers and consumers globally. According to their website, they define themselves as a “one-stop shop” for both common and hard-to-find ingredients, and foreign delicacies. They collaborate with over 300 suppliers from around the world to source a catalog of 1,600 packaged food products. Danielle Bereznay and Brandi Beaver were two Roland “chefs” at their stand at WWF. To begin, Ms. Bereznay highlighted the fact that they have Mediterranean products, coconut oils , mezes, and Middle Eastern products on display. Ms. Beaver added that the company is focusing on trends and “global flavors”. She added that Roland has an entire line of meze spreads with artichokes, chick peas, and olives and that they are also focusing on impulse purchases: “customers are looking for convenience stores to purchase high protein, low-fat and especially low-sugar meals”. When asked about Roland’s healthy food and gluten-free product offering, Ms. Beaver mentioned that many of Roland’s products have moved towards “clean label”, meaning they have no preservatives and are shelf-stable. Ms. Bereznay emphasized Roland’s international presence as an importer: “You can really travel the world with Roland”, she declared.

Demedici Imports and Roland Foods - Part 2 Choosing Exquisite Delicacies from Abroad

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he second company interviewed, De Medici Imports, was represented by the Atalanta Corporation, a New Jersey food importer specializing in cheese, charcuterie, deli meat, grocery and seafood products from around the world. Founded in 1945, Atalanta is the largest privately held food importer in the United States. Their product range “has the versatility to meet the requirements of every market, from commodity to specialty.” WEIE first spoke with Marissa DeMaio, who mentioned that they have food products coming from around the world and that they chose to display products from Europe, including the UK. Ms. DeMaio boasted that Atalanta Corporation has 3,500 skews of products offered from over 30 countries from all over the world. One of the companies they represent is DeMedici Imports, which imports those products. Their sales director, Thomas Gellert, mentioned that they consider themselves “ a souce for high-quality brands from around the world”. He added that “we take on the responsibility of representing the companies here at the show by describing the authenticity behind these artisan manufacturers”. When asked about the Demedici Imports’ strategic objectives, Mr. Gellert emphasized the role of their company in informing, training and educating consumers “providing consumers with unique ways to find solutions in a very competitive retail environment”, guaranteeing them quality sales service. In conclusion, Ms. DeMaio took the opportunity to proudly present one of Atalanta Corporation’s cheese brands, Snowdonia, a line of cheddar cheese which was used to make a cheese cake as a muchappreciated wedding gift to Prince Harry and his American fiancè, Meghan Markle.

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FOOD

Le Bread French Bread Fast, Hot, and Fresh

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EIE spoke with Benoit Herve, CEO and founder of Le Bread Xpress, an innovative bakery located in San Francisco. The bakery has been operating for 2 years and looks to expand in the near future. The innovation of Le Bread is the company’s creation of a machine which can bake fresh baguettes in 10 to 20 seconds, a feat which WEIE successfully tested directly at the stand with Mr. Herve. He told WEIE that the machine was developed in France. “I took this technology to the market”, declared Mr. Herve, “and adapted it to the US market”. He added that they have 2 machines in place in San Francisco, the first in the US. “Our strategy is to find the location, install the machine, and sublease the location”, continued Mr. Herve “with particular focus on the supermarket, retail store, universities, and hospitals”. The long-term strategic objective of the company is to continue providing hot and fresh bread by means of a “vending” machine which is operational 24/7 on the US market. This is important especially considering that many retail points are open 24/7. Finally, Mr. Herve indicated that the machine is cloud-based and can be remotely accessed especially for inventory purposes. “It’s more than a vending machine, it’s also a micro-bakery” boasted Mr. Herve, “we are combining the French gastronomic tradition to the innovative technology available in Silicon valley and bringing it to San Francisco and Europe”.

Jelly Belly Candy A Sweet Taste Never Goes Wrong

J

ELLY BELLY CANDY COMPANY (JBCC) was founded in 1898, and began making Jelly Belly® jelly beans in 1976. Today, Jelly Belly products are sold all over the world and the company remains family-owned and operated by the fourth, fifth and sixth generations of the candy-making family. WEIE visited the stand of JBCC and spoke with Jana Sanders Perry, Communications Director of the company who was at the stand. Ms Perry said that they were exhibiting a number of new products which were being launched for the US market. “We have a licensed item with the ‘Jurassic World’ brand” announced Ms. Perry, adding that they are also launching a new bulk item “Mint mint chocolate chocolate chip” and an organic smoothie mix as well. WEIE then asked her what were JBCC’s main strategies for the domestic and international markets. Ms. Perry recognized the company’s leadership in the US market but also announced that they would be exhibiting at the ISM trade show in Germany where they will be launching some new products for the international market including new confections and licensed products . “We have been known for high quality confectionaries for decades on the US market,” declared Ms. Perry, emphasizing that the company strategy of launching new products is the same for both the US and foreign markets: “the company will be gauging what both consumers and retailers are are interested in” for both markets. The company hopes that its success over the decades on the domestic market will allow the company to continue achieving success on the international markets as well.

18 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018


FOOD

Japanese Flavours and Scents A Breeze From the East

W

EIE met with Osamu Muramoto, sales director of Kiajin Trading, an important producer and distributor of authentic purebred wagyu which are small loins steak-cut, sliced for shabu-shabu, and saku for sushi or seared appetizers. They appear quite similar to Italian salami and are derived and processed in a similar way, but from Japanese cattle. Mr. Muramoto emphasized that the company is unique in that it is the only one to sell 100% authentic wagyu in the US market and that they have also prepared a cutting press in Los Angeles to produce the wagyu locally. “Wagyu is getting really popular now”, he beamed, “especially in Northern California amongst the young and very well-off ”. He also stated that wagyu is very rich and fatty so Kiajin is available to cut and slice according to customer requirements, particulary for appetizers. When asked about wagyu’s market potential in both Japan and abroad, Mr. Muramoto remarked that it is a quite expensive food product, but significantly different from other beefs in the world like angus or holdten because it can be only found in Japan: “Japanese cattle farmer raise cattle to make wagyu very differently from the way Americans breed cattle for their beef ”, he declared. “A wagyu farmer has only 20-30 cattle in his farm, compared to the hundreds of thousands in an Amierican farm”. Mr. Muramoto concluded that the Japanese farmer treats the cattle with great care and that’s how they are able to provide such an authentic Japanese delicacy.

See the rest of our interviews at www.lefonti.tv

Make sure to visit our website regularly to see our reports on the Specialty Food Industry!

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 19


FOOD

ESMACH

Baking Technology Made Easy and Environmentally Sustainable Worldwide Helping Bakers and Bread Shops Work Seamlessly is only the Beginning Laura Lamarra

20 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018


FOOD

V

ICENZA - Esmach

has been producing standard and personalized machinery for bakeries, pastry shops and pizza parlours for almost 50 years. Cuttingedge technology, environmental awareness, respect for tradition and enthusiasm for the ensuing boundaries of fragrance are the main characteristics of the company’s success. Today, Esmach is part of the ALI Group, leaders in designing, producing and supplying machinery and solutions for food delivery. Innovation and continuous improvement guide the Esmach processes, which re-interpret the Kaizen philosophy (Kai=change; Zen=better), from product quality

to client service. Esmach supplies turnkey solutions that work seamlessly together, even with codesign, service and training. With headquarters in Grisignano di Zocco, in the province of Vicenza in the Northeast of Italy, the company’s annual turnover of €20 million can be mainly attributed its internallyproduced professional bakery equipment, sold both in Italy and abroad. Thanks to Esmach’s technology, flour and water are used to produce bread, pizzas and focaccia of excellence, with a taste and aroma that recall the craftsmanship of the past. Its mixers aim to preserve the natural characteristics of raw materials, bread-making machines

and generators which produce natural yeast. Esmach’s General Manager, Paolo Zunino, with significant international sales experience, is leading the company to reach its ambitious international goals. WEIE took the opportunity to sit down and discuss with Mr. Zunino and find out what those goals are. Read on to see what they are:

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS WHICH MAKE ESMACH A LEADER IN THE FOOD MACHINERY INDUSTRY?

“Technological innovation and continuous improvement are important drivers: Esmach has now positioned itself and is identified as a company that is perfectly capable of technologically manipulating raw materials while still maintaining their properties over time. We are renown as a leading company in the food processing machinery and equipment industry, specializing in natural yeast processes and, in particular, mother yeast. EsmachLab is the result of an in-depth study combining tradition and quality with a contemporary business model- a small, highly profitable, flexible and productive artisan bread laboratory. The concept itself is innovative and the first of its kind. It brings the world of artisan bread-making into a daytime job and makes it accessible to non-professional bakers. Existing Esmach appliances have been adapted to this new concept, making

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 21


it possible to produce high-quality of EsmachLab: to offer extremely stressing or degassing the dough. artisan breads throughout the day high-quality pizza, focaccia, pies The shaped dough may be baked and avoid the night shift that puts so and bread with the inimitable, directly or stored in a chiller, ready much strain on personnel and their evocative fragrance that only freshly to be baked off when needed. There families. EsmachLab consists of five baked goods have. Esmach wants is a wide range of ovens: rotary, rack, different appliances that can be sized to encourage bakers and maintain deck ovens and modular ovens for to meet the production needs of the the tradition and future of artisan all baking needs. Pizza, pastry and customer and guarantee the very best bread. A full range of pizzas, pies, bread will all be baked to perfection. quality an artisan baker can provide. breads and rolls can be made in an Esmach’s research and development The Mother Yeast Generator makes EsmachLab environment, the yeast department has perfected existing sure that clients have perfectly will work its magic and each bread products to reflect the changes in maintained mother yeast ready at or pastry will rise perfectly as it this business model for daytime any time. This means that bread is of develops its flavor. The baker is able baking. Each of these appliances the highest quality, has been fine-tuned easy to digest and EFFICIENCY and is high-quality, full of natural flavor. sturdy, reliable, easy WE WORK ACCORDING TO KAIZEN There is no need to maintain and MANUFACTURING PRINCIPLES AIMED AT THE energy efficient. By for artificial raising agents or improvers. CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT OF PRODUCTION studying consumer The Spiral Mixer is trends, EsmachLab PROCESSES AND THE ELIMINATION OF THE a workhorse ready to is designed to enable SUPERFLUOUS mix each dough to its small businesses desired consistency, and high-volume, easily and reliably. When the dough to add gourmet ingredients at this fast turnover customers to produce is ready it goes into the intermediate stage: olives, tomatoes and roasted quality pizza, focaccia and bread proofer for the necessary time. It vegetables to name a few. While it is on demand throughout the day. On is suitable for short proofs as well obviously possible to shape by hand, a practical level, this means that as for long, slow proofs of up to a specific moulder does the work for the appliances required to bake 72 hours. Esmach has also looked the client, quickly, professionally and the goods can be much smaller, closely at consumer habits and how with no flour in the environment, saving costs on valuable retail they have changed. Consumers have making the workplace safer and space and increasing profitability become more aware of what they more pleasant. Various forming per square meter. EsmachLab is eat and are willing to invest more dies allow the baker to express his accessible to professional and nontime and resources in their health. creativity to the fullest and create professional bakers. This means that This fits perfectly with the objectives many different shapes without other businesses, such as bistros,

22 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018


FOOD

restaurants and small hotels can expand their business and offer freshly baked pizza and bread to their customers. At the January edition of SIGEP, the specialized trade fair for food machinery, we presented its evolution, called EsmachLab 4. We are able to serve a room perfectly tailored to the business of any restaurant, not just for bread and pizza, but for the complete site/ store”.

DOES PARTICIPATION IN TRADE FAIRS FIT INTO A STRATEGIC PROJECT OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PROMOTION AND VISIBILITY?

“Pre and post SIGEP, we recorded an average 20% increase of orders this year. Our business model has changed completely: we now have gone from being a machine manufacturer to a full-service solution provider. We combined the characteristics of an engineering and commercial company, along with the adaptability of a commercial company, to the planning and technicality of a machine producer, like ours, that requires significant time and financial investments to manufacture its products. We want to export this new business model in a targeted way, building a

path of communication, visibility and involvement to support the business”.

WHICH FOREIGN MARKETS ARE YOU INTERESTED IN PURSUING?

“Besides Italy, where we will continue to invest, France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, and most of the US and Canada, are important export targets. China is a market with special rules that requires significant investments so it is a secondary target for now. Within our distribution model, we have an agreement with a leading company in the bakery sector that operates as a mega distributor in some foreign countries and with distributors and master distributors, for example in the USA and Canada, where consistent market coordination is required.”

ESMACH IS ONE OF THE 8 ITALIAN SUCCESS STORIES INCLUDED IN THE BOOK GEMBA KAIZEN. HOW IS THIS PHILOSOPHY ADOPTED WITHIN YOUR CORPORATE CULTURE?

“We work according to Kaizen manufacturing principles aimed at the continuous improvement of production processes and the elimination of the superfluous

– an important indicator of how we espouse the philosophy. In addition, we also focus on the quality of people and the business climate. We are building a modern company architecture, oriented towards the continuous development, characterized by efficient professionals, with a broad and concrete vision of the business and how it will evolve in the coming years. As a result, we are now able to offer a primary service to our customers, (like Autogrill etc.), and at the same time create modern bakeries whose productive processes are more conducive to individual onthe-job well-being. In our Group, the human factor is at the heart of the company and I believe that human resources make the difference. I have introduced an internal reorganization for work teams based on responsibility and according to objectives. In my experience, I have often seen that putting the right emphasis on teamworking, particularly for personnel to assume collective responsibility and not individual blame, has led to successful business results. Our support tools have helped develop the emotional and intellectual part of the job. These tools help create a rewarding system directly related

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 23


FOOD

to business objectives. As a result, personnel tend to collaborate more naturally and automatically.

TO WHAT DEGREE HAS DIGITALIZATION AFFECTED PRODUCTION PROCESSES AND WORKING METHODS? Digitalization is component for

an important planning and

fortunate not to have aggressive waste. We have created a supply chain, where waste is managed separately and automatically, and recycling is considered fundamental. We are coherent carriers of a message of naturalness and sustainability of products; we do our best so that our client can work only with water and grain, abandoning everything that in

TEAMWORK

“…PUTTING THE RIGHT EMPHASIS ON TEAMWORKING, PARTICULARLY FOR PERSONNEL TO ASSUME COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY AND NOT INDIVIDUAL BLAME, HAS LED TO SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS RESULTS.” company management, while IOT and automatic processes are not as important to the company since much of the labor is still realized by means of manual operations and specific technical interventions. Since the company’s approach is targeted towards tailor-made solutions as requested by the client, the automation inherent in the process of digitalization is more important for planning and internal management and less for production.

IS ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY A KEY FACTOR IN YOUR BUSINESS MODEL?

“Yes, of course. The company is 100% sustainable, both in terms of process and product. We are

a broad sense can lead to aggressive waste. Finally, we always look out for suppliers adhering to organic food and zero-km initiatives”.

ESMACH IS CELEBRATING ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR, WHAT DOES THIS REPRESENT FOR YOU? WHAT IS THE CELEBRATION FORMAT? “Our 50th anniversary is an important milestone both for the company and for respecting financial budget targets. We began our business with a descending profit curve and now have managed to reverse the trend. We now have many projects envisioned for the long-term, even for the next few years, which remain consistent with our philosophy of continuous

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improvement. The celebration format has been developed into 3 levels: first, an open day, towards the end of summer, where customers, suppliers and those who worked with us get together to discuss future plans and projects; second, a visibility company plan, aimed at increasing visibility and profiling in relation to possible future partners; third, an internal training plan, aimed at increasing human and professional training skills for those working in the company. We are proud of the fact that we have been able to increase turnover without resorting to internal restructuring or staff cuts. WEIE


LE FONTI

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ECONOMICS

FORECASTS

THE WORLD ECONOMY IN 2018 In the tenth year since the start of the global financial crisis, the US economy reached a new high-water mark, and the global economy exceeded expectations. But whether these positive trends continue in 2018 will depend on a variety of factors, from fiscal and monetary policy making to domestic politics and regional stability. Michael J. Boskin

26 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018


ECONOMICS

S

TANFORD - All major macroeconomic indicators – growth, unemployment, and inflation – suggest that 2017 will be the American economy’s best year in a decade. And the global economy is enjoying broad, synchronized growth beyond what anyone expected. The question now is whether this strong performance will continue in 2018. The answer, of course, will depend on monetary, fiscal, trade, and related policies in the United States and around the world. And yet it is hard to predict what policy proposals will emerge in 2018. There are relatively new heads of state in the US, France, and the United Kingdom; German leaders still have not formed a governing coalition since the general election in September; and the US Federal Reserve has a new chair awaiting confirmation. MOREOVER, MAJOR CHANGES IN IMPORTANT DEVELOPING ECONOMIES SUCH AS ARGENTINA, SAUDI ARABIA, AND BRAZIL HAVE MADE THE FUTURE OUTLOOK EVEN MURKIER.

Still, we should hope for the best. First and foremost, we should hope that synchronized global growth at a rate of just under 4% will continue in 2018, as the International Monetary Fund projected in October. Growth not only raises incomes, but also makes vexing problems such as bad bank loans and budget deficits more manageable. As former US President John F. Kennedy

famously said in an October 1963 speech in which he promoted his proposed corporate and personal tax reductions, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

FOR MY PART, I PREDICT THAT THE GLOBAL RECOVERY WILL CONTINUE, BUT AT A SLIGHTLY SLOWER GROWTH RATE OF AROUND 3.5%. The two most ob-

vious risks to keep an eye on will be Europe, where a cyclical upturn could stall, and the oil-rich Middle East, where tensions could flare up once again. Second, let us hope that the Fed, guided by the steady hand of its new chair, Jerome “Jay” Powell, will continue or even accelerate its monetary-policy normalization, both by raising its benchmark federal funds rate, and by shrinking its engorged balance sheet. And we should hope that economic conditions allow the other major central banks, especially the European Central Bank, to follow suit. On this front, I predict that the major central banks will continue to normalize monetary policies more gradually than is necessary. The biggest risk here is that markets may try to test the Fed under its new leadership, for example, if inflation rises faster than anticipated. Third, let us hope that the Republican tax package will, if enacted, deliver on its promise of increased investment, output, productivity, and wages over the coming decade. Here, I predict that the legislation will pass, and that

investment in the US over the next few years will be relatively higher than if no action had been taken. To be sure, whether investment will rise from its currently subdued level will depend on many other factors than the corporate-tax rate. But the tax package can still be expected to boost output, productivity, and wages.

THE QUESTION IS NOT IF, BUT WHEN.

If the full effects of the legislation are not felt before the 2018 or 2020 elections, that lag could prove politically consequential. The biggest danger is that its benefits will be delayed, and that its key provisions will be reversed whenever the Democrats are back in power. Fourth, let us hope that governments everywhere begin to address the looming crisis in public-pension and health-care costs, which have been rising for decades. As social programs become costlier, they crowd out government expenditures on necessities such as defense, while generating ever more pressure to impose higher growth-suppressing taxes.

EUROPE, IN PARTICULAR, MUST NOT LET ITS CYCLICAL REBOUND LULL IT INTO COMPLACENCY. Many European Union

member states still need to reduce their government debt, and the eurozone needs to resolve its “zombie bank” crisis. Beyond that, structural labor-mar-

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 27


technological advances could deliver immense economic gains.

IT IS EASY TO ENVISION A SCENARIO OF TOO MUCH REGULATION, OR OF TOO LITTLE. It is

ket reforms of the kind French President Emmanuel Macron is pursuing would be most welcome. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that progress on structural reforms will be sporadic, at best. The danger is that slow growth will not lead to sufficient wage gains and job creation to defuse the ticking time bomb of high youth unemployment in many countries. Another risk is that reform attempts could provoke a political backlash that would be harmful to long-term investment. Fifth, let us hope that the eurozone can avoid a currency crisis. This will depend largely on whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel can form a coalition government and restore political stability to Europe’s largest economy. Sixth, we should hope that the EU and the UK can agree on a reasonable Brexit deal that will preserve fairly strong trade relations. The main risk here is that localized declines in trade could spill over and cause broader harm. And, beyond Europe, let us hope that negotiations between the US, Canada, and Mexico over the North American

Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will result in an arrangement that still facilitates continental trade. For trade generally, the biggest risk is that the Trump administration could start a lose-lose trade dispute, owing to its understandable eagerness to help American manufacturing workers.

also easy to envision a large-scale public backlash against the major technology companies, particularly if poor self-policing or a refusal to cooperate with law enforcement leads to some horrible event. Here, I predict that achieving an appropriate policy balance will take years. If some future event strikes an emotional chord, the public’s mood could swing

INVESTMENT

WHETHER INVESTMENTS WILL RISE FROM THEIR CURRENTLY SUBDUED LEVEL WILL DEPEND ON MANY OTHER FACTORS THAN THE CORPORATE-TAX RATE Seventh, let us hope that new policies targeting information and communication technology (ICT) strike the right balance among all stakeholders’ competing and legitimate concerns. On one hand, there is reason to worry about certain Internet companies’ concentration of market power, particularly in online content and distribution, and about the effects of new technologies on personal privacy, law enforcement, and national security. On the other hand, new

28 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

dramatically. Ultimately, however, I suspect that competition and innovation will survive the forthcoming regulations. Finally, and most important, let us hope that terrorism is thwarted everywhere, conflicts subside, democracy and capitalism regain some momentum, and greater civility and honest dialogue return to the public domain. Should that happen in 2018, it will be a very good year indeed WEIE


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ECONOMICS

THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORM

THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF MR. TRUMP What has fundamentally changed with the Trump administration is not that it behaves more selfishly than its predecessors, but that it seems unconvinced that the global system serves US strategic interests. Jean Pisani-Ferry

P

ARIS - This year’s World

Economic Forum in Davos proved to be yet another opportunity for US President Donald Trump’s administration to display its customary verbal incontinence and send shockwaves through the global economy. This time, there were two sources. The first shock came from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who broke with more than two decades of strict discipline by suggesting that a weaker dollar would be in America’s interest. The second came from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who seemed to rejoice at the prospect of waging and winning a trade war. For once, it was Trump himself who restored calm by denying that the US was pursuing a beggar-thy-neighbor strategy.

But he did so only after his cabinet secretaries’ statements had attracted sharp responses from international partners. If Trump’s first year in power provides an indication of what is to come, there is little reason to look forward to more stable US economic leadership. A year after his inauguration, Davos provided a powerful reminder that he is far from being normalized.

TO BE FAIR, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS CERTAINLY NOT THE FIRST TO PUT “AMERICA FIRST.” Owing to its inward-look-

ing political system and the persistence of strong isolationist undercurrents, the US has been consistently more reluctant than European countries to enter into or to abide by international commitments.

30 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

The 1948 rejection of the Havana Charter (an early attempt to create a global trade organization), congressional hostility to the Bretton Woods institutions, or the refusal by President George W. Bush to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change are just a few examples. Likewise, taking ruthless measures to defend US interests did not start with Trump. President Richard Nixon’s unilateral decision in 1971 to abandon the gold standard was a major blow to the international monetary system. The US Federal Reserve’s monetarist experiment in the late 1970s precipitated the Latin American debt crisis. Arm-twisting with Japan in the 1980s circumvented established trade rules. And in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, the Fed implemented quantitative


ECONOMICS

easing despite protests that it was allowing the US to export deflation.

YET THERE IS SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS TIME. From the mo-

ment it inherited global leadership from the United Kingdom – symbolically with the signing of the Atlantic Charter in the summer of 1941 – until Trump was elected 75 years later, few could doubt that the US was the ultimate owner of the international economic regime. Depending on timing and political conditions, it could fudge the rules or help enforce them; it could behave more selfishly or more generously; and it could pursue narrow, short-term interests or broad, long-term goals. But whatever the US did, it remained the dominant shareholder of the global system. And the rest of the world knew that perfectly well. There were strong geopolitical reasons for this stance. Until the Cold War’s end, the system of rules and organizations that formed the institutional infrastructure of international trade, investment, and finance was considered by the US establishment to be vital to the prosperity of the “free world” and the containment of Soviet influence. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the system served as a strategic means for integrating former communist countries into the international capitalist economy. Eventually, in the early 2000s, the global economic system came to be regarded as providing the best platform to accommodate China’s rise. China was invited to join the club, with the implic-

it promise that after it had learned to play by the rules, it could contribute to amending them. It would have a chance to participate in steering the international system, and gradually gain in power and influence. China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 was an important milestone here. What has fundamentally changed with the Trump administration is not that it behaves more selfishly than its predecessors. It is that it seems unconvinced that buttressing the global system serves US strategic interests. Critically, it seems unconvinced that integrating China into this system and offering it a place at the top table is the best way to accommodate its rising economic might. For the rest of the world, the key question now is whether the global system is resilient enough to outlive its creator’s withdrawal.

SUPERFICIALLY, THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES OF TRUMP SEEM REMARKABLY BENIGN. Con-

cerns over currency wars have waned. The global economy has not descended into a protectionist spiral. Even the US withdrawal from the fragile Paris climate agreement has not resulted in its collapse. On the contrary, all other leaders – starting with China’s President Xi Jinping – have confirmed their commitment to it, and 174 countries have formally ratified it. Concerns in the security field look more serious, owing to disputes over the Iran nuclear agreement and uncertainty over the handling

of North Korean missile launches. But the view that the economy, at least, is on firm ground is dangerously misguided, as it assumes that global economic rules and institutions have created the equivalent of an economic and financial constitution. Indeed, the system remains too incomplete to self-regulate, and its functioning requires constant guidance and frequent discretionary initiatives. This is why informal groupings like the G7 and the G20 remain essential: they provide the necessary political impetus.

BUT THEY, TOO, DEPEND CRUCIALLY ON US BACKING AND LEADERSHIP.

For example, it was not the rules of the system that offered a response to the 2008 crisis; it was a series of ad hoc initiatives – a standstill on trade protectionism, coordinated bank rescues, a global stimulus, and the provision of dollar liquidity through swap lines, to name only the main ones – that owed much to the US. Absent its leadership and the initiatives of key players like the UK and France, the crisis would have been much worse. True, the other major players – Europe, China, India, and Japan – may eventually be able to exercise global leadership. But, for the time being, they lack the will, the capacity, and the cohesion this would require. So the world should be under no illusion. To keep the boat on course after the pilot has left the wheel is one thing; to steer it in a storm is another matter. Let’s hope the next storm does not gather too soon. WEIE

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 31


SPOTLIGHT

KAISER PARTNER

Streamlining Asset Protection in the Digital Era Asset Protection and Wealth Management in the Digital Age. Alessia Liparoti

32 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018


SPOTLIGHT

V

ADUZ - Mr.

Kaiser is Executive Chairman of Kaiser Partner, a wealth management company based in Liechtenstein. Helping to responsibly grow and preserve private wealth, Kaiser Partner is an award-winning wealth manager with roots dating back to 1931. Comprising a leading trust company, a private bank specializing in asset management, an SEC-registered investment advisor and a Family Office, the group advises clients mainly from Europe and from the United States of America. WEIE took the initiative of interviewing the executive chairman, Fritz Kaiser, on the eve of his acclamation as European Chairman of the Year in Wealth Management, and asked him some pivotal questions about his company and the future of asset protection and wealth management.

“out-of-the-box” solutions from our own experts or from specialists chosen from an exclusive network of contacts.

clients and to deliver the services which are state-of-the-art and respond to their needs.

WHAT KIND OF SERVICES DO WEALTH MANAGERS AND PRIVATE BANKS PROVIDE IN LIECHTENSTEIN?

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FINTECH AND THE DIGITALIZATION OF WEALTH PROTECTION SERVICES?

WHAT ARE KAISER PARTNER’S MAIN SERVICES AND GOALS?

Today, I guess we all agree that change is occurring everywhere and that it has influenced our own professional and private lives. Change has led to technological developments which are now helping us to communicate and manage our daily lives faster and more efficiently. In today’s world, we have become a society based on mobility: our investments have become transparent and are accessible at the touch of our mobile devices. We have begun to think, live and interact in a new way. Wealth managers and private banks have to adjust to the needs of today’s

We live in times of rapid and fundamental change and at Kaiser Partner we help families navigate their wealth through times like these. We are general advisors of international families and we offer family office, banking, legal, tax and administration services. Our ambition is to help our clients preserve and grow their wealth. To support this ambition we have created the “Kaiser Partner wealth table”. When meeting with clients, we take the time to listen and understand their problems and provide them with

Today, the Principality of Liechtenstein is a politically safe haven with a triple A economy in the middle of an attractive but also insecure European continent. Wealthy families in Europe and from overseas choose Liechtenstein often as a secure international investment hub for their financial assets so they expect cutting-edge professional services at the highest international standards. Wealth in a world of change means that we need to adopt new ways of managing wealth.

COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN FURTHER?

There are more or less useful fintech initiatives and products emerging and digitalization is on the move throughout all industries and not only with banks and wealth advisors. At the end of the day, it all comes down to collecting data, analysing it and making good and hopefully fair use of it - in the best interest of the client and of the company. In the past decade, the internet has changed our lives substantially, and big data and blockchains are emerging drivers of change. In this context, we all need to realize that our private data is being stored in many computers, not just in those of banks and tax authorities. Our data is being stored in big data spaces thanks to our daily personal interaction with others through the internet. Knowing what is out there is the first step in understanding what kind of privacy and wealth protection is possible in today‘s digital world.

YOU SAID: “IS IT STILL POSSIBLE IN A DIGITAL WORLD TO MANAGE AND GROW ASSETS ON THE BASIS OF PRIVACY AND TRUST WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY SATISFYING THE LEGITIMATE CLAIMS OF THE TAX

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 33


AUTHORITIES? WE BELIEVE SO. CHANGE ALWAYS INVOLVES OPPORTUNITIES AND RISKS”. WHAT ARE THE MAIN OPPORTUNITIES AND WHAT ARE THE RISKS? The advantages of the digital world are obviously enormous for our business and our investments. Today, we can exchange information 24/7 very quickly from anywhere to anybody with software available to support private communication. When it comes to privacy, however, the new global automatic exchange of information rules are a really big game changer which ultimately has superseded traditional bank secrecy laws. Today, banks and trust companies have to deliver their clients’ financial data to their tax authorities. The risk here is that personal financial data travels the world in an uncontrolled way. Using legal entities such as foundations, trusts and holding companies may offer better privacy and better data control.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE TODAY’S MAIN CHALLENGES

FOR ASSET PROTECTION?

Different families have different challenges. Some look for protection against business threats or family disputes, while others are more concerned about political and country risks. Avoiding to put all your eggs in one basket is still a valid suggestion. Hence, balancing risks with legal crossborder structure and investment diversification can be an excellent solution. In any event, choosing a suitable partner for asset protection, wealth and succession planning is a good first step.

YOUR PHILOSOPHY IS BASED ON RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENTS. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Some time ago, I conducted a session with wealthy families at the World Econimc Forum in Davos. At its conclusion, we convened that the world is changing at a pace never seen before in the history of mankind and that we need to take on the responsibility of this change for ourselves, for our families, for our society and for our planet. I

34 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

think this is still a good formula. Today, we have clients who, on the one hand, look for a decent financial performance from their investment and, at the same time, want us to screen investments to comply with certain social, environmential and ethical criteria. Our experience today demonstrates that this approach has been proven to bring long-term, well-performing investments to our clients.

YOU AND KAISER PARTNER HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED FOR SEVERAL YEARS IN A ROW FOR YOUR CORPORATE EXCELLENCE. IN 2017, YOU WERE AWARDED EUROPEAN CHAIRMAN OF THE YEAR IN WEALTH MANAGEMENT AT THE LE FONTI AWARDS IN MILANO. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO COMMENT? I feel flattered and thankful for this kind of recognition and accept it on behalf of the wonderful team of employees who I have had the pleasure to work with in our company. WEIE


SPOTLIGHT

STUDIO PADOVANI

Perseverance and Reliability in International Legal Assistance A Long-Lasting and Consistent Relationship with Private and Company Clients both in Italy and Abroad. Alessia Rosa

M

ILAN - Chiara Padovani’s

international law firm has gained the reputation of being a reliable legal partner providing judicial assistance and highly qualified legal services for both Italian and foreign clients, including private customers and companies. Expertise, accuracy, independence and confidentiality are the reference values that address the mission and permeate the philosophy of the law firm, characterized by a prompt and direct intervention and, at the same

time, by a complete and well-structured organization. In 2017, Ms. Padovani received the acclaimed distinction as Lawyer of the Year for Criminal Law during the annual awards ceremony organized by Le Fonti in London. The award was presented at the international event in London, Excellence in Global Economy, located at London’s premiere venue, the London Stock Exchange. The event is part of the global roadshow held at the world’s leading financial centers, organized by Le Fonti Awards, which

36 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

have received the patronage of the European Commission. We took the opportunity to sit down and ask Ms. Padovani to describe to WEIE in greater detail just what makes her law firm so special, the law services she provides, and some of the goals she has reached and those she wants to achieve in the future.

WHAT ARE THE SPECIALIZATIONS OF YOUR LAW FIRM? TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY


BIOGRAPHY

AND YOUR BACKGROUND.

My Law Firm mainly focuses on whitecollar crimes, tax crimes, business and financial crimes, fraud, international bribery and insolvency. Special attention is also given to the administrative liability of corporations for crimes committed by their members. With regards to my background, I graduated at the University of Milan and then began working as trainee in a very important and prestigious Law Firm of Milan, where I became lawyer in 2003. I collaborated with this law firm until 2007, when I decided to “take off ” and create my own practice. It was actually quite a challenge, given that I was still considerably young, but after ten years I can still say I made the right choice. In the meantime, I started collaborating with different Italian Universities offering courses focused on the most controversial aspects of criminal procedure, and I focused on some key issue research whose results were published in scientific and legal journals.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE KEY FACTORS OF YOUR SUCCESS?

I believe that our strength lies in our desire to improve ourselves and to do better. We always look to reach perfection, and never stop studying and learning. I also think that the attention we dedicate to our clients, whom we counsel on a daily basis, is certainly a key representation of our professionality, which is further enhanced by our teamwork skills. Finally, I believe

the law firm’s value addition certainly improved thanks to our exposure to court cases abroad. I attended trials held in foreign courts based in Europe (France, UK, Switzerland, Malta) as well as in the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean.

YOUR LAW FIRM GUARANTEES ASSISTANCE IN VARIOUS LANGUAGES: ENGLISH, FRENCH AND SPANISH. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FIRM’S INTERNATIONAL APPROACH?

The international relationships that our law firm has developed over the years have certainly become a worthy asset for us. On the one hand, our law firm assists foreign clients that are involved in Italian judiciary cases, assisting them in understanding better our national legal system. On the other hand, we work with international law firms and professionals with whom we collaborate professionally. Finally, we assist international companies that, for one reason or another, need to be updated about the Italian legal system. I believe that the continuous flow of information relevant to different international legal systems is certainly an important characteristic that the law firm has to offer.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME PART OF YOUR TEAM?

My staff is mainly composed of young, motivated lawyers whose passion is

Chiara Padovani

Since November 2007, Ms. Padovani is the owner of the Chiara Padovani Law Firm in Milan, which offers legal assistance to its clients in the fields of administrative liability of corporations and legal entities, for crimes committed by their members, pursuant to the Italian Legislative Decree n. 231/2001, including personal injury, clinical negligence and safety at work, tax crimes, crimes against the Public Administration, computer and cyber crimes, environmental crimes and international criminal law.

law and the legal field. They are fluent in different foreign languages, and many of them also collaborate with universities. They share and uphold our law firm’s mission, and have successfully achieved a good balance between work and their personal interests.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIGITAL COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES YOU INTEND TO GO THROUGH IN 2018?

The biggest challenge that every criminal lawyer is confronted with is his ability to keep up with technology and technical

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 37


SPOTLIGHT

modernization and, at the same time, protect his clients’ privacy. Moreover, the Italian deontological rules are quite strict concerning the possibility for a lawyer to use digital communication and tools. For this reason, it is my purpose to keep looking carefully at these issues in the upcoming years.

WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TOWARDS THE FOREIGN JUDICIAL AUTHORITIES AND HOW DOES ITALY DIFFER FROM OTHER COUNTRIES?

Since Italy is part to the European Union, we must abide to its regulations, particularly those agreed in 1999 from the Treaty of Lisbon, and especially those involving criminal law. For this reason, and in consideration of the growing trend towards globalization, we have frequent contacts with foreign judicial authorities, sometimes even on a daily basis. This aspect of my work is actually quite fascinating, because it is always very interesting and challenging to see how the different legal systems work within Europe. Being in a position to understand the current differences and similarities between two or more juridical systems is not easy but, in my opinion, it is what distinguishes a successful criminal lawyer from an ordinary one.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR LEGAL ISSUES WHICH ENTREPRENEURS MUST FACE IN ITALY?

It is not a secret that the Italian

criminal regulation is one of the most complicated in Europe. Even with a full understanding of all the existing risks regarding criminal law, a foreign company can still find some obstacles while seeking to invest in Italy. Moreover, in recent years the national criminal policy has focused a lot on business crimes, frauds, international

everyone, whether private individual or company.

WHAT ARE THE FUTURE GOALS OF YOUR LAW FIRM?

We have many foreign clients, both private individuals and companies. The main purpose of our law firm is to continue offering legal services to all

SKILL AND DISCRETION

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT EVERY CRIMINAL LAWYER IS CONFRONTED WITH IS HIS ABILITY TO KEEP UP WITH TECHNOLOGY AND TECHNICAL MODERNIZATION AND, AT THE SAME TIME, PROTECT HIS CLIENTS’ PRIVACY briberies and crimes that are typically committed by entrepreneurs. For this reason, it is important to be fully aware of how our national legal system works and what risks a businessman faces today when investing in Italy. We also have to consider Italian Legislative Decree no 231/2001, which introduced into the Italian system the administrative liability of companies for certain offences perpetrated, in their own interest or for their own benefit, by their directors, employees and/or representatives in general, together with the related monetary and prohibitive sanctions to be imposed upon the companies themselves. This is a delicate topic, and our main purpose here is to succeed in guaranteeing the same fundamental rights (such as a fair trial)

38 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

clients, regardless of nationality, and to focus on the potential impact of a national issue from an international perspective and not just on the issue itself. In addition, we want to continue improving our knowledge and services relevant to to corporate crimes, a very controversial and well-documented area of law in Italy, also at an academic level. In order to continue guaranteeing our clients a high level of professionality, we must continue learning through extensive training sessions, specifically focused on the existing case-law and practices. Finally, we must stay up-todate on the upcoming regulations at a supranational level, always keeping into mind the complexity and delicacy of the cases that criminal lawyers deal with everyday. WEIE


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www.lefonti.com


SPOTLIGHT

AMICUCCI FORMAZIONE

Learning through Innovation Digital Learning Solutions for the Fast-Paced World of Tomorrow.

Alessia Rosa

C

IVITANOVA

MARCHE

-

Amicucci Formazione is a family-owned business leader in the provision of training material to companies interested in acquiring new techniques and methodologies for learning a wide range of on-the-job and off-the-job concepts. Amicucci’s distinctive training model is based on micro-learning, gamification, and a multimedia format that ensures a high level of engagement through its visual appeal. What distinguishes Amicucci from its competitors is its absolute commitment to providing clients with a digital approach in training. Amicucci Formazione works for high profile Italian multinationals in 14

languages via the Skilla.com brand. The company has now announced itself on the international market with the unique multimedia Skilla Library, offering micro-learning training in management skills and soft skills in English, German and Italian, soon available also in French and Spanish. WEIE took the opportunity to sit down and ask Federico and Marco Amicucci, sons of the company’s CEO, Franco Amicucci, some key questions about the company and their accomplishments. We think their answers live up to Amicucci’s reputation. Read on and see why.

YOU HAVE BEEN PROMOTING THE DIGITAL CULTURE FOR

40 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

SEVERAL YEARS NOW. IN LIGHT OF THIS, HOW HAS EDUCATION CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS BOTH IN ITALY AND ABROAD?

Training has been evolving rapidly; its mission today is to guide organizations towards the continuous innovation and development of skills needed to keep pace with today’s digital revolution. Traditional training models, based on lessons and conferences, are no longer efficient, and traditional eLearning itself is in a crisis. Training today has become more agile, continuous, pervasive, multichannel and multi-focus than ever before. The methodologies, delivery channels and materials provided are all continuously changing. Virtual


BIOGRAPHIES Federico Amicucci

learning environments, together with personalized training and coaching, experiential training, learning communities and on-the-job training are all growing considerably. Company roles are changing too; for example, it’s not uncommon to see younger staff, even without the appropriate seniority, tutoring their managers to help them bridge their own digital skills gap!

HOW DID THE SKILLA IDEA COME ABOUT? WHAT COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES DID YOU ADOPT TO PROMOTE THIS INNOVATIVE LEARNING METHOD?

Skilla was created to innovate the way company training is implemented; this is because company training is no longer fulfilling the continuous and rapidly growing needs of learners. To fill this gap, Skilla has been developed and highlights two groups of learning models: 1. A new eLearning model based on micro-learning and an engaging, appealing multimedia delivery of content, sustained by advanced design, television-quality animation, gaming and continuous interactivity. Skilla is the first in Italy to respond to students’ needs for continuous, rapid, bite-size learning. 2. Blended learning models, often delivered by internal trainers, integrating smaller and shorter classrooms, efficiently combining micro-learning, coaching, gamification, flipped classrooms, and storytelling, to create highly engaging “learning paths” for staff. Our model has been rapidly established

An expert in digital skills, digital literacy and soft skills evaluation. Federico has trained more than 2000 people over the years in the use of the internet and new technologies, via classroom teaching and reverse mentoring courses. In Amicucci Formazione, he looks after the products and services focussed on the propagation of digital skills, including courses designed for managers and frameworks on the use of new technologies for continuous professional development.

Marco Amicucci

A specialist in distance learning, new media and digital communication. Since 2008, Marco has worked for multinationals and major Italian organizations, for whom he has designed and coordinated internal communication campaigns, innovative training projects and eLearning initiatives. In Amicucci Formazione, Marco is responsible for strategy and management control.

in the most high-profile Italian organizations and multinational companies, because it has been recognized as breaking with traditional training formats and responding to the new digital cultures adopted by many modernly structured companies. Some of Amicucci’s innovations have been quite radical. For instance, we created an eLearning model for soft skills and digital skills comprising 15-minute bitesize courses, while in the marketplace such courses covering the same topics are typically two or four hours long. Amicucci demonstrated that 15 minutes of high-quality learning can be even more effective than a four-hour course! Prestigious, world-renowned luxury and automotive brands were the first to grasp the value of our innovative methods by adopting the “Skilla training method”, which has

now become the company’s flagship brand. In the early years, word-ofmouth and technical magazine surveys were the primary means by which our innovative learning methodology was publicized. More recently, the television, radio, and the internet have become key media channels. Finally, Skilla was the main elearning platform adopted at EXPO2015 in Milan, an accomplishment which allowed us to gain praise not only in Italy but also around the world.

WHAT ARE THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS WHICH DISTINGUISH THE SKILLA LIBRARY PLATFORM FROM THE COMPETITION?

In terms of method and content, the Skilla Library has features which are internationally distinctive. The contents cover a multitude of organisational training needs from training of new staff to management.

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 41


SPOTLIGHT

The Library contents support a wide range of HR processes, from talent management to performance management, from project management to organizational soft skills, and from business “core values” campaigns to corporate social responsibility. In the next few years, “digital skills” will be the Library component undergoing the most extensive development, with hundreds of micro-learning activities. Thanks to digital skills, students will be able to ride the digital “waves” without drowning in them. The micro-learning method and the multiple delivery styles we use to create a course on a single skill are the results of intensive research activity, with 8 PhD programmes dedicated to our method, and books and scientific publications which have in turn validated its efficiency. By using the Skilla Library, our clients will reduce the time spent in the classroom for learning by 50 percent. For example, one of our clients, a bank with over 4,000 employees, recently placed 200 students in a negotiation course. In previous years, the course would have been exclusively classroombased and would have lasted three days. Using Skilla Library, the classroom component was reduced by one day thanks to 25 “Skilla Library learning pills” which were integrated into the course. In this way, the classroom was transformed into a sort of gym, with exercises and simulations, and with no theoretical slides or presentations. Everyone benefited, including those who didn’t physically attend class, thanks

to the online “Learning Pills”.

IN ADDITION TO ONLINE LEARNING SOLUTIONS, DO YOU ALSO OFFER CLASSROOM TRAINING OR BLENDED MODE PACKAGES? WHAT ARE ITS ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES?

Our online solutions are created using the method of micro-learning. This allows learners and organisations to use parts of our courses, whether to make classroom-based, teacher-led learning more innovative and engaging, or for on-the-job learning to support work

performance. The blended learning model is rapidly becoming more widespread, with time divided amongst classroom, eLearning, webinars, project work and experimental laboratories. These new training models provide more engaging learning paths than the traditional training format of the teacher lecturing passive students. Besides e-learning solutions, we offer consultancy and train-the-trainer courses as an incentive to create a new training culture in organizations. We

42 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

also train groups of trainers/coaches within organizations to give them the tools to plan and manage blended learning sessions. Finally, we provide intensive classroom-based education as a means to transfer core digital skills to employees within an organization. This activity is fundamental because it compensates for the lack of progressive digital skills, allowing us to provide innovative training methodologies to our clients through elearning.

HOW IMPORTANT IS SELF-EDUCATION TODAY? HOW DO COMPANY HRS APPROACH NEW DIGITAL LEARNING TOOLS?

Learning continuously is a fundamental characteristic of today’s learning process and will remain so in the future. Our society is evolving rapidly, and the technological revolution demands continuous up-skilling and re-skilling of people whether for work or pleasure; our training is deeply involved in this transformation. Keeping up-to-date professionally via traditional classroombased methods remains difficult; in our opinion, a major educational process of self-directed learning and a new approach to learning and development will be required for companies to succeed and excel in the years ahead. Organizations will need to create onlinelearning environments for their staff to be used for self-directed learning whenever needed and, especially, wherever needed. Human Resources are involved in this innovative process as well, since all HR activities will


SPOTLIGHT

be involved in digitalization, from recruitment to onboarding to skills development.

IN AN INCREASINGLY DIGITAL WORLD, DO YOU OFFER EDUCATIONAL SOLUTIONS ACCESSIBLE FROM DIGITAL DEVICES?

Our entire offer is accessible on a wide range of devices (smartphone, tablet and desktop). Smartphones have profoundly changed our lives. Educational content must adapt to a modern lifestyle and workplace, and not just adapt to the technological device on which it has been accessed. In marketing, the number of touchpoints and interactions with clients has multiplied; the approach has now become omni-channel. Therefore, learning opportunities for people are also multiplying, which has, in turn, led to omni-channel learning. The real

PC before the start of the work day, or perhaps at a meeting room by exploring relevant content on a tablet. To be able to offer the best learning experience, you need to put yourself in the user’s shoes and pay close attention to how often they use the material and why. As a result, you need to create learning material which is coherent with its usage, and we have come to realize that it needs to be short and sharp as well as accessible on any electronic device. The real challenge for the future is to create flexible learning paths accessible on technological devices such as smart watches or virtual reality headsets.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2018?

Today we are leaders in the training industry in Italy; Italian companies and organizations have the same challenges as their counterparts in the rest of

LEARNING TOMORROW

A MAJOR EDUCATIONAL PROCESS OF SELFDIRECTED LEARNING AND A NEW APPROACH TO LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT WILL BE REQUIRED FOR COMPANIES TO SUCCEED AND EXCEL IN THE YEARS AHEAD. innovation here is not technological. The learning material has been streamlined to be adapted to modern lifestyles. The micro-learning method provides the learner with the opportunity to continue learning, during a taxi ride with the smartphone, or at his desk on his

Europe. There is an accelerated rate of social and technological change in our society and, hence, there is a need for more rapid and efficient learning solutions; employee engagement is an integral part of this process. Our approach to e-Learning responds to

these demands, which are common to all European businesses. Our entire catalogue of courses is already available in Italian, English and German, and will soon be available in French, Spanish, Russian and other languages. Our dream goal is to find commercial partners in every European country who share the same passion for beautiful, efficient, engaging and pleasant learning that we share.

IN ADDITION, WE WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP TECHNOLOGIES AND APPS FOR LEARNING, from solutions designed

for fast-paced mobile learning, to developing technologies that improve the learning experience in the classroom. In 2018, we will be organizing the third edition of “Exploring eLearning”, an event dedicated to eLearning for business. An event for hundreds of trainers and HR managers representing an opportunity for debate, for the exchange of ideas and for communitybuilding. It’s not only a training event designed to enable the acquisition of the skills needed to manage the rapid evolution of organisations’ learning and development systems and processes, but also a space in which we can build the future of eLearning through workshops and laboratories alongside businesses. The real, strategic objective of 2018 remains the same every year: to further develop our passion for innovative approaches to learning and to managing change in organisations. WEIE

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 43


LE FONTI AWARDS

SUBMIT YOUR CANDIDACY www.lefontiawards.com


MILAN

Palazzo Mezzano�e

25th May 2018 31st May 2018

MILAN NEW YORK

Palazzo The Yale Club Mezzano� e 1st July 2018

May -June 2018

DUBAI MILAN LONDON

Palazzo Mezzano�e

The Palace London Downtown Dubai Stock Exchange th 26December October2018 2018

May -June 2018

DUBAI

The Palace Downtown Dubai December 2018


SPOTLIGHT

KWAK TELECOM

Premium Rate Numbers for a Wealth of Services and a Unique Offer A Market in Continuous Expansion Contributes to Growing Telecommunication Opportunities. Simona Vantaggiato

N

ICOSIA - Have you ever thought about who manages all of your personal data when you make a call to a contact center or contact a TV or radio program because you want to voice your opinion in real time during the broadcast? Today, this is all possible thanks to the use of Premium rate numbers (PRNs). These are usually phone numbers which are charged at a higher rate than normal

phone lines. These types of phone numbers are usually used in business to provide people with a service, be it specialist or otherwise. A good service usually comes at a premium, and a premium rate number based service enables people to make money in exchange for their services. Common kinds of premium-rate number services include, but are not limited to: TV Shows, Visa and immigration help,

46 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

votes, joke lines, tarot lines, as well as live person based technical support lines. Other types of premium-rate number services include: directional enquiries, competition lines, voting on TV shows and so forth. Kwak Telecom is an award-winning, Cyprus-based, international telecommunications company which has been at the forefront of the business of managing premium


number numbers for clients, both at an international and domestic level since 2004. They define themselves as the missing link between telecom, media and the financial industries. WEIE took the time to sit down with Josef Bruckschloggl, CEO, and Gottfreid Schrempf, Co-founder of Kwak Telecom and member of the board, to ask them to give us a broader perspective of what makes Kwak Telecom a global excellence. Read on to find out more about their offer.

WHAT DISTINGUISHES YOU AS A COMPANY FROM THE COMPETITION?

GS: We are a team of 20 people coming from 14 different nations around the world and are produ-cing an equivalent of 1,4 percent of all Cypriot exports. I guess that’s rather unique. JB: Out of this we are able to serve clients all over the globe in their mother tongue and to understand their needs within different cultures and regions very well. Since we are serving clients in more than 100 countries this is an invaluable asset. GS: We take great effort to identify the very best people for each job. We continuously train our people. Many of us have visited executive education programs in St. Gallen and Oxford. We know as a service provider that without the best people we cannot be the best firm. JB: Another aspect which makes us outstanding might be that KWAK

is solely cashflow financed. We do not have a single dime of bank debt and that makes our balance sheet a fortress. We are extremely risk averse and our partners and clients repost and appreciate us being a stable partner. There’s nothing more important in the payment business than your customer’s trust and that you have the liquidity to pay them on time.

WHAT IS IT THAT COMPETITORS RESPECT ABOUT YOU AND WHAT DO YOU RESPECT MOST ABOUT THE COMPETITION?

GS: KWAK sets the benchmark of reliability and accuracy within the global premium rate business. Our customers rely on punctual payments and a high level of process security. KWAK works with the precision of a well engineered Swiss clock. JB: What we respect most about our competition? That they motivate us day by day to strive for the better solution for our client’s needs. Today, we are at the forefront of our industry and we work very hard every day to keep it that way. GS: Today’s telecommunication

industry is extremely dynamic and we know that our competitors are constantly searching for a better solution to serve our clients’ needs. Our motivation is to stay on top and to shape the way the future of our industry will look like in the months and years ahead. Until now, this has worked out quite well.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PREMIUM RATE NUMBERS MARKET IN 2018?

JB: The need for our international payment solution is growing steadily. There are more and more paid content services on the market and most of them are offered internationally. The international premium rate number is still one of the most convenient and secure ways to bill content and therefore we are optimistic to see further market growth in the upcoming years. GS: We have seen a lot of new, big players coming into the PRN market. The larger telecom companies are pouring into the market in an almost “desperate” attempt to identify market niches to keep their margins stable. This is an important catalyst for the

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 47


SPOTLIGHT

BIOGRAPHIES Josef Bruckschloegl CEO, Kwak Telecom Ltd.

Mr. Bruckschloegl studied Telecommunications and Media Economics at the University of Applied Science in St. Poelten, Austria and graduated summa cum laude in the year 2000. At the age of 21, he was appointed Director of E-Commerce at Telekom Austria Group and established the online sales of telecom services as Europe’s pioneer in this field. In the following years, Mr. Bruckschloegl held several management positions at Telekom Austria and Deutsche Post. In 2009 Mr. Bruckschloegl joined Kwak Telecom as Vice President Carrier Relations and was promoted Chief Operating Officer of the Kwak Group and Managing Director of Kwak Telecom Germany GmbH one year later. Since January 1st 2013, Mr. Bruckschloegl has been working as Chief Executive Officer of Kwak Telecom Ltd. Josef Bruckschloegl is alumnus of the prestigious Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme at Said Business School, University of Oxford. In fall 2016 he was recognized as Outstanding Alumnus by the business school. Josef Bruckschloegl can be reached at josefb@kwak-telecom.com

Gottfried Schrempf Co-Founder and Member of the Board, Kwak Telecom Ltd.

Gottfried Schrempf studied mechanical engineering and operating technology. He spent several years in training and education in computer science followed by many years employment in specialist computer businesses. In 1996, he came in contact with telecommunications and since then this segment has become his passion. After working in the telecommunication business for many years he co-founded Kwak Telecom in 2004. Gottfried Schrempf is also the owner and director of Schrego Communications Ltd in UK and Schrego Communications GmbH in Austria. Schrego Communications GmbH is 50% shareholder of Kwak Telecom Ltd. and also 50% shareholder of Kwak Ventures Ltd. Gottfried Schrempf can be reached at gschrempf@kwak-telecom.com

48 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

market and will increase reliability and professional quality of the services. Due to its long term competence in this field, KWAK is premium partner for these companies.

WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIC GOALS FOR YOUR COMPANY IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS AND WHAT IS THE ROLE OF PARTNERSHIPS IN REACHING THESE GOALS?

GS: Telecommunication, especially on international level, is an interconnected business where a lot of companies create one value chain. Therefore partnerships are at the very core of our success. Without the best partners you hardly can be the best firm. Therefore we take great care to identify and develop partnerships all over the world that help us reach our goals. JB: KWAK is the interface of telecommunication, media and finance. We help media companies to bill their content based on existing telecom infrastructure. All three of these industries are highly innovative and are developing rapidly. Our strategic goal is to achieve superior performance in this market by driving innovation and to become a benchmark in the industry, bringing customer convenience to new heights. Moreover, we feel obliged to work continuously on the reputation of our service so that it remains a well established and secure international payment tool.


SPOTLIGHT

YOU HAVE SAID THAT THERE IS NO OTHER MICROPAYMENT TOOL, NO CREDIT CARD NOR ANY OTHER PAY-MENT INSTRUMENT AVAILABLE THAT CAN REACH AND BILL AS MANY PEOPLE IN AS MANY COUNTRIES AS PREMIUM RATE NUMBERS CAN (SOURCE: YOUR WEBSITE). WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT THE RISK OF HACKING OR SABOTAGE OF SENSITIVE DATA WITH THIS SERVICE AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME IT? JB: Yes, there is no other payment tool that has that tremendous reach like PRN. The only thing people need is a working telephone! Nothing else! And especially in widely unbanked areas like the sub-saharan area our service bears a huge potential to effect the daily live of people in significant positive manner. GS: When it comes to security the first thing we have to be aware of is

prevention and data security since the company’s creation in 2004 . We have built sophisticated IT-based systems to avoid fraud, hacking or sabotage and equally important we have dedicated people who monitor traffic patterns and unusual behavior in real time. The combination of human and technical control helps us to identify potential threats at a very early stage.

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE INDUSTRY 4.0 REVOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE EU AND WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR COMPANY AND THE PRN MARKET OVERALL?

JB: We appreciate and value the European Union’s ambition to drive digital development in Europe. If we compare Europe with the USA or Asia, there’s no doubt that there exists a disproportionate number of digital success stories for the latter. In Europe, as a means to compete, we need to create digital excellences like Alibaba,

RELIABILITY AND SECURITY

OUR CUSTOMERS RELY ON PUNCTUAL PAYMENTS AND A HIGH LEVEL OF PROCESS SECURITY. KWAK WORKS WITH THE PRECISION OF A WELL ENGINEERED SWISS CLOCK that wherever payment services are processed hackers are not far away. That’s unfortunate but it’s a fact. Given this imminent threat, KWAK has been successfully managing fraud

Facebook or Uber. Even our core industries (the automobile industry, to name one) are facing extreme pressure to innovate from startups. Therefore it’s necessary to support any initiative

to help change this for the better and improve Europes position in global competition. GS: Unfortunately there won’t be too many implications of Europe’s 4.0 digital revolution on KWAK. On the one hand, we sell 80 percent of our business outside the European Union and so we are not very much effected by local governance. On the other hand this initiative as its title says is mainly focussed on industry players. Since we are a service company and rather small we assume that the direct impact on us is minimal. But due to the fact more and more companies drive their offer digitally and face a need to bill those offers, KWAK is in a great position to fulfill this demand promptly and efficiently.

WHAT GOALS DO YOU WANT TO REACH IN 2018 AND BEYOND?

GS: Last year we started serving our clients with mobile applications to increase their convenience dealing with us. They can use their client portal on their mobile or tablet with a dedicated KWAK app or test access through our Access Tracker App. In 2018, we are going to strengthen this strategy and will be launching a new applications that make our client’s business even easier and more efficient. JB: And of course our main ambition is to help media companies, telcos and content providers to gain additional revenue streams through value-added services by offering a payment tool with global outreach. WEIE

January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 49


SPOTLIGHT

THE CEO SUMMIT IN DUBAI

TAKING DUBAI BY STORM Leadership and Innovation: Skills and Vision for Growth Eric Davide

D

UBAI - WEIE provided full coverage of the CEO Summit recently held in Dubai in December 2017. The summit was an excellent opportunity to gather insight on Middle Eastern companies’ approach related to digital innovation and growth. Indeed, the title of the Summit was “Leadership and Innovation: Skills and Visions for Growth”, where four illustrious companies answered questions about how they manage the challenges of their companies in the 21st century Middle Eastern Region. Esteemed companies like Alawwal Bank, Pyramedia, Emaar Properties,

and ZAS, all winners of the prestigious Le Fonti awards for company and individual performance, all had their say and while their industry sectors were quite diverse, the challenges remained equally imposing for all.

WEIE WAS THERE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SUMMIT.

The first panelist was Alawwal Bank’s CEO of the year for Banking in the Middle East, Soren Nikolajsen, who answered some crucial questions about how he manages his staff, Alawaal’s business model, the role innovation is playing in the banking

50 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

industry and how they are facing the challenges. Even though Mr. Nikolajsen had been appointed CEO only recently (January 2017), he was still quite capable of providing important advice and expert opinions about the banking industry in the Middle East and, in particular, Saudi Arabia where the bank is located. It should also be pointed out that Alawwal’s new brand name which substituted Saudi Hollandi, was adopted right when Mr. Nikolajsen took over. He stressed that adaptability, motivation and good listening skills are all critical in the banking industry.


SPOTLIGHT

regarding innovation in banking pinpointed the fact that a new business model is being adopted by Alawwal to make banking more attractive and user-friendly for the consumer. He mentioned that until now the retail customer in KSA would go to the bank only because it was a so-called “obligation” and not because they wanted to.

“FACING THE CHALLENGES OF INNOVATION MEANS BEING ABLE TO ADAPT ITS BENEFITS TO THE NEEDS OF ITS CUSTOMERS TO MAKE BANKING MORE ATTRACTIVE,”

Moreover, stamina and learning by practice should not be overlooked as the banking industry is really hard work and sometimes you need to learn how to accomplish tasks by practice and not exclusively because you learn it at university. Mr. Nikolajsen could not deny that it is an ever-changing job, and that the skills required to be an efficient banker are those applicable not only today but also in the past, and will be applicable even more so in the future. He then added that being a 91 year old bank and the first ever financial institution in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Alawwal means “The First” in

Arabic), the bank has a very traditional business model based on corporate interests. He mentioned that the banks retail business is expanding rapidly and that the bank’s digitalization process has been underway for the past 3-4 years. Indeeed, he commented that the change in KSA is very rapid and even “daunting”. Mr. Nikolajsen’s final remarks

he declared. “Adapting to these changes is a must, otherwise the bank will go out of business”. The next panelist, Dr. Shereen Gobriel represented Pyramedia, a repeat participant at the CEO Summit of Dubai and winner of the company and CEO of the year in media & entertainment in the Middle East. Mr. Gobriel is General Manager of the media company based in Abu Dhabi, whose CEO (Nashwa Al Ruwaini) has won Le Fonti’s coveted CEO award of the year in the Middle East for the fourth year in a row. Mr. Gobriel was asked how he copes with the changes and evolution of social media and took the opportunity to herald the younger generation as they represent the future, have a lot to offer and that we can learn a lot from them. He insisted that, for the media industry, it is important to hire

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SPOTLIGHT

the right candidates and that we must be capable of adapting to the constant evolution of the industry.

“THE MAIN STRENGTH OF THE COMPANY IS ITS STAFF”, said

Mr. Gobriel, and this is an important premise when creating Pyramedia’s business model which is centered around its personnel. He added that the best staff qualities that have contributed to Pyramedia’s business model have been “managing” and “leadership”. “Managing is totally different from leadership”, he warned, stating that leadership is to take a company or human resource to the next level of achievement. “Managing, on the other hand, is the resource’s ability to make personnel accomplish their duties and reach their goals”, he declared, highlighting the fact that this can be quite challenging too because the company’s staff can

be involved in various tasks which are not always related to media but also transportation, another important industry sector in which Pyramedia is involved especially with regards to their facilities and production solutions. Finally, he was asked how innovation is changing the media sector and how the company is facing the challenges: “An important innovation these days is our ability to manage messages autonomously from our headquarters” said Mr. Gobriel, “Now everybody can access information independently, shifting to models of delivering messages and communicating with social media, like Instagram”. The third panelist was Dr.Hani Gharbawi General Counsel of Emaar – The Economic City, awarded development project of the year for the Middle East. The organization, based in Emaar KSA and with

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offices in Dubai is renowned for property development, particularly for hospitality, shopping malls and entertainment infrastructures. Emaar properties is renown around the Middle East for the development of the King Abdullah Economic City in KSA and Dr. Gharbawi si a two-time winner with Le Fonti Awards as he won the coveted General Counselor of the Year Middle East in 2016 for his role in this real estate project as well. He was first asked about the skills required for a leader in the real estate industry nowadays and agreed with Mr. Nikolajsen of Alawwal that stamina is also required in the real estate industry, but that you also need patience, given that the projects are long-term and require the coordination of a number of companies. He also added that boldness and long-term vision to build something that has a long-term


SPOTLIGHT

purpose for the future are required to be successful in the industry.

MOREOVER, KNOWLEDGE OF REAL ESTATE ISSUES IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE FACETS OF THE PROJECT including topics related

to land ownership, urban design, and master planning. Before answering about Emaar Properties’ business model, Dr. Gharbawi provided a brief background explanation about the company which he said began as a single entity and which has now grown to include 7 different companies, all adaptable to what is required by the market. He specified that there is no single, specific business model, adding that “each of the 7 companies has evolved with its own model and the organization has a broad range of interests”. Next, Dr. Gharbawi pointed at that the business of building houses is at the heart of innovation and that everyday you face a new challenge.

THE NEEDS ARE VARIOUS AND GO FROM MONITORING THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF MODERN HOMES through

remotely-operated video surveillance cameras and parking gates, to remotely accessing appliances and mechanisms within “smart” homes. “We even manage the lighting, roads and city installments on the roads”, he added. “Moreover we monitor energy

deployment and maintain strong contacts with local and national government bodies” to assure that the innovative changes in place work properly, he concluded. When asked about the skills required for a leader in the real estate industry, words of wisdom were expressed by Dr. Gharbawi as he replied: “it’s not about working hard, but working smart”. “Learning to adapt and innovate…that’s what makes you stand out”. He also agreed with Mr. Gobriel of Pyramedia about the distinction between leadership and management skills and added, “noone has the same resources a leader has when it comes to managing”. “What distinguishes a leader from a non-leader is his ability to optimize resources which he must manage 24/7”, he concluded. Another important skill he mentioned is the real estate developer’s ability to keep abreast of the changes in the market through a solid understanding of Architecture. Dr. Gharbawi’s final remarks set a perfect introduction for the 4th and final panelist, Mr. Preetam Panwar, Executive Director of ZAS, a leading architectural firm with international offices based in Abu Dhabi and headquarters in Toronto, Canada. ZAS is renown for being behind the real estate development of the Rosemont 5 Star Hotel and Residences property complex and DAMAC Maison Tower, both in Dubai, UAE.

THEY ARE ALSO TWO-TIME WINNERS, AS THEY WON THE SAME AWARD AT LAST YEAR’S EDITION OF LE FONTI AWARDS IN DUBAI.

Mr. Panwar explained that ZAS started as an education practice, 35 years ago, and has now expanded even to include IT and trading and has applied the concept of adaptability. He also provided important suggestions about his business: “It’s not so much about products but about time-satisfaction”, he declared. “To reach your goals, you need a high level of communication, dedication in what you do, and trust is crucial.”

WITH REGARDS TO INNOVATION, MR. PANWAR AGREED WITH THE OTHER PANELISTS THAT it is a daily “learning experience”,

adding that “architecture is not just about buildings but about adapting lifestyles and incorporating lifestyles”, like those which allow us to reserve hotel room remotely with an app or to decide the room temperature for hotel guest room directly from a smartphone. In conclusion, the 2017 edition of the Le Fonti’s CEO Summit in Dubai provided interesting insights on how to do business in the Middle East but also how to adapt to the ever-changing needs of technology. All panelists agreed that the agility of a company in adequately using technology will be the most rewarding characteristic of leading companies in the Middle East. And probably the rest of the world. WEIE

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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

THE 2018 CES ELECTRONICS SHOW

CES 2018 -

THE 18 HOTTEST NEW PRODUCTS

The Most Innovative Technological Products at the Most Innovative Trade Show Alessia Rosa

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LAS VEGAS

Each year, the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is the place to be for examples of the latest developments in technology. The show this year is no different and WEIE was there to see the latest and most interesting new products from CES 2018.


#1

DRIVERLESS PEOPLE MOVER

Toyota Motor Corporation showed off its e-Palette self-driving test vehicle at CES. The self-driving vehicle is designed to move both people and things. Toyota says it plans to provide the block-shaped electric cars to other companies, including Amazon, Pizza Hut and Uber.

Roll-up TV

#2

Of all the televisions demonstrated at CES 2018, one of the most unusual is a huge model that can roll up like a newspaper. LG Display made a 162centimeter-long (64-inch) model. It is powered by the same OLED technology used in TVs. The company explains the technology can let users hide the display, or lower it to different heights to change picture size.

Self-driving travel bag

#3

China’s ForwardX Robotics demonstrated a four-wheeled travel bag that automatically follows its user around the airport. The smart bag uses cameras and AI to avoid crashes. The device can message the owner if it gets too far away or when the battery power gets low.

#5

Hip saver

#4

Also at CES 2018, French airbag maker HELITE demonstrated wearable hip protectors for older people. The battery-powered system is worn as a belt just above the hips. When an individual is about to fall, sensors cause the side airbags to fill with air to help prevent broken bones.

Camera for the blind

The OrCam MyEye 2.0 device is made for blind people or those with limited eyesight. It is a smart camera about the size of a finger. The device can read out writing or print from any source. It is also equipped with AI tools to recognize faces, products and money in real time.

#6

Deep sea robot

The FiFish P3 by Qysea is an underwater robot that can take photographs or send “live” video from depths of up to 100 meters. The camera – controlled by a device – captures 4K HD and uses powerful LED lighting.

#7

3D face scanner

Bellus3D introduced a high-quality face-scanning camera for mobile devices. The camera uses AI to create a 3D model of your face. The images can be shared or used to help a person find the right makeup products. Users can even create a realistic 3D face mask.

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#8

AIBO PUPPY ROBOT

SMART #12 UNDERCLOTHING

At least two companies showed off smart underwear meant to improve the health of the person wearing it. Skiin launched underclothing for men and women. These products can measure a person’s heart rate, temperature, breathing, body fat, water intake, number of steps walked and sleep history. Another company, Spartan, makes underwear for men that it says blocks up to 99 percent of radiation from wireless computer networking devices. CES has products covering people from head to feet, including special socks for people with diabetes. Siren smart socks measure foot temperature and warn the wearer when signs of injury develop.

Some people might remember Sony Corporation’s first Aibo robot. The mechanical dog was launched in 1999. It was considered revolutionary at the time, but the company eventually stopped producing it. But the Aibo robot was brought back for CES 2018. Aibo means companion in Japanese, and the newest robot dog is designed to be just that. Sony says Aibo can form emotional connections with individual family members and teach nurturing skills. It uses artificial intelligence (AI), to react to touch and voice commands. Aibo communicates through body language, such as eye, ear, and tail movements, and voice sounds.

#13 UV MONITOR

Beauty products manufacturer L’Oreal released two new products at the show. Each is designed to help inform individuals of ultraviolet, or UV, sun exposure. UV Sense is a small, wearable sensor that can be worn for up to two weeks on the end of a finger. The sensor links up with mobile devices to provide warnings about too much sun.

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#9

Pollution mask

R-Pur is a French company still raising money to increase production of its anti-pollution mask. The mask is designed for drivers of bicycles and motorcycles. The product is designed to keep out harmful pollutants in the air, as well as viruses and bacteria.

#10

Instant bike electricity

The makers of the Electron Wheel say anyone can turn a traditional bicycle into an electric-assisted cycle in just 30 seconds. The company says the wheel – which replaces the front tire – has a powerful motor and can travel up to 80 kilometers.

#11

Smart shower

Several manufacturers have been demonstrating smart shower technology at CES. Users can control water flow and temperature from mobile devices – and in most cases also by voice – and can also play (and sing along with) music.


INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

8K ARRIVES

#14

Some major manufacturers also showed off TV models with new 8K technology, which nearly doubles the picture resolution of 4K. One of the companies is Samsung Group, which said its Q9S model uses AI to automatically bring lower quality video up to 8K. Samsung also launched a 371-centimeter (146-inch) MicroLED receiver called “The Wall.”

SMART TOOTHBRUSH

#15

Finally, several smart toothbrushes were shown, including the Magik model from Kolibree. The company says the product is the first in the world to use augmented reality to educate children on the best methods for cleaning teeth. It records user movements and shows the child – in a fun, interactive way the best ways to brush.

Intelligent toilet

#17

CONNECTED FRIDGE

#16

Smart appliances seem to be the future of home kitchens. Several companies are launching fully programmable refrigerators that do a lot more than keep food cold. Samsung says its “Family Hub” creates shopping lists, orders food and can see inside the refrigerator for you. It can connect with mobile devices to share information, play music or even stream video from a Samsung TV elsewhere in the home.

Kohler presented its Numi toilet, which it describes as “the finest in personal comfort and cleansing.” The device-connected machine includes programmable lights, plays music and has a heated seat and foot warmer.

Chinese automaker BYTON presented a new electric sport utility vehicle, or SUV, that can also drive itself. The company says the smart vehicle uses facial recognition technology to open the doors. The car is controlled from a large computer screen. Sensors continuously measure the driver’s heart rate and blood pressure.

#18

FACE UNLOCKING CAR


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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

EUROPEAN RESEARCH

Europe’s Chance to Lead on ROBOTICS and AI Artificial intelligence could be either the best or the worst thing that ever happened to mankind. To prepare for the profound changes to lives and livelihoods that lie ahead, the European Union should start establishing rules to protect all Europeans – and give the rest of the world a model to follow. Guy Verhofstadt

B

RUSSELS - At least since Mary Shelley created Victor Frankenstein and his iconic monster in 1818, humans have had a morbid fascination with man-made beings that could threaten our existence. From the American television adaptation of “Westworld,” which depicts an amusement park populated by androids, to the “Terminator” films, in which super-intelligent machines aim to destroy mankind, we often indulge the paranoid fantasy that our own technological creations might turn on us. In Homo Deus, Hebrew University’s Yuval Noah Harari argues that

existing technological advances have already put mankind on a path toward its own demise. Developments in artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms that make better decisions than humans, and genetic engineering all imply that most human beings will be superfluous in the not-too-distant future.

AT THE WEB SUMMIT CONFERENCE IN LISBON LAST DECEMBER, the late physicist Stephen Hawk-

ing addressed the threats as well as the opportunities that lie ahead. “Success in creating effective AI,” Hawking said, “could be the biggest event in

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the history of our civilization. Or the worst.” The problem, he added, is that, “We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it.” Despite their stark warnings about the possible implications of existing technologies, Hawking believed, along with Harari, that we still have time to shape the future for ourselves. The changes ahead will raise a number of pertinent questions for policymakers. What will the spread of robotics and AI mean for defense and security or the future of employment? And what


INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

front. In February of 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of new rules governing AI and robotics.

WE ARE ASKING THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO PROPOSE MEASURES THAT WILL MAXIMIZE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF THESE TECHNOLOGIES, while also guaranteeing

rules can ensure that these innovations are collectively beneficial? So far, mainstream political debate about these questions has been limited. That is not surprising: as we saw with animal cloning, politics tends to lag behind science. In the European Union, single-market regulations are often adopted years after the scientific breakthroughs that made them necessary. But when it comes to robotics and AI, we cannot afford to hesitate. Fortunately, as Hawking pointed out, some European policymakers have already begun legislative work on this

a standard level of safety and security. Although I disagree with some of the proposals currently on offer, the fact that we are at least having a debate on the matter is a positive development. While other countries are also considering new rules for robots and AI, the EU has a unique opportunity to take the lead. By acting now, we can ensure that the EU will not be forced to follow regulatory frameworks set by other countries. Ultimately, global rules will be required; and Europe has a chance to set the standard for what they should look like. For starters, we will soon need a specific legal status for robots, so that we can determine who is liable for any damage they may cause. Moreover, as the Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has warned, robotics and advanced algorithms will likely eliminate many jobs. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that five million jobs across 15 developed countries will be lost to automation by 2020. Given that ongoing changes in the means of production have already kick-started this trend, Gates and some in the European Parliament

have suggested that robots be taxed to pay for human services. Whether that is the best solution is now the topic of much debate; but, clearly, some kind of compromise will need to be made. Robotics and AI will also raise profound ethical issues for liberal politicians, particularly with respect to privacy and safety. Fortunately, there is a broader political consensus on this issue than on taxation. The European Parliament has proposed a voluntary code of conduct for engineers and others working in the field of robotics. Ethical as well as legal standards are needed to ensure that robots and related technologies are designed with respect for human dignity in mind.

LASTLY, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT HAS CALLED ON THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO CONSIDER CREATING A NEW EU-LEVEL AGENCY FOR ROBOTICS AND AI, to provide public

officials with technical, ethical, and regulatory expertise. To my mind, this would be a sensible step forward, given that an estimated 30% of the world’s leading companies will employ a chief robotics officer by 2019. We can be almost certain that today’s technological advances will have a profound effect on our lives and livelihoods, akin to a new Industrial Revolution. By establishing regulations and standards now, the EU can ensure that all Europeans will benefit from the coming changes, rather than be engulfed by chaos. WEIE

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INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

MACHINES CAN’T DREAM The scale of AI’s impact is hotly debated, and often boils down to a single question: Could machines replace us? But, rather than obsess over a dystopian future, government, business, and education leaders should work together to minimize the adverse consequences for humans of the robots we do deploy. Bill McDermott

W

ALLDORF - For more

than 20 years, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have been viewed through the lens of competition between humans and machines. Ever since May 1997, when IBM’s “Deep Blue” computer defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov, there has been growing anxiety about the consequences of this cognitive arms race. More recent computer victories – like “Watson’s” 2011 win on the Jeopardy game show, and Google’s 2015 computerized takedown of a professional Go player – have only heightened popular concern. Leaders, technologists, futurists, and

employees in every industry rightly wonder how AI will affect our workplaces, societies, and lives. The scale of AI’s impact is hotly debated, and often boils down to a single question: Could machines replace us? Smart people disagree about the answer. Some, like the late physicist Stephen Hawking, believe that AI’s rise represents an existential threat. In 2014, Hawking told a BBC radio audience that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” But others consider such fears overblown, and predict that intelligent automation will lead to a utopia populated by intuitive machines.

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ONE THING IS CERTAIN: THERE IS NOTHING TO BE GAINED FROM FEARING A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE THAT WE HAVE THE POWER TO PREVENT.

Even in divisive times like the present, human ingenuity, kindness, innovation, and creativity are powering us forward. If we harness this energy, we can create a world in which AI benefits humanity, and where automation frees people from the dangerous and repetitive tasks often associated with manual labor. Instead of machine versus man, then, the world would be better served by embracing an “augmented humanity” – what former Google


INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

CEO Eric Schmidt defined as getting “computers to help us at the things we’re not very good at,” and vice versa. Mehdi Miremadi, an AI consultant at McKinsey & Company, similarly believes that partnership, not rivalry, will define the future of computerassisted work. And that future is fast approaching. “I think the humanrobot interaction is the name of the game,” he said recently. “It will be the most important trend in the near- to mid-term – the next five to 15 years.” Already, leading industrial manufacturers like Airbus and Nissan are introducing collaborative robots – “co-bots” – to the factory floor.

Robots are consistent, reliable, never tire, and don’t improvise. Changes to assembly lines require painstaking human adjustments, making it hard to alter what a factory produces quickly; robots do it faster. But machines can’t do everything, so the solution, according to researchers, is factories in which robots and humans work in tandem. Leaders in every sector – including government, industry, and education – will need to plan thoughtfully to minimize the adverse effects of AI. Among the most important tasks is ensuring that young people have the skills to excel in an AI-dominated marketplace, and that those already in the workforce can adapt to new requirements. Robots will not become people’s officemates overnight; only a small percentage of current jobs are susceptible to full automation. Then again, almost every occupation can and will be partly automated at some point in the future. The jobs most prone to automation include routine activities like data collection and processing. But AI’s role in the workplace will deepen with time.

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, TECTONIC SHIFTS IN TECHNOLOGY HAVE UPENDED OCCUPATIONAL STRUCTURES AND EMPLOYMENT. But these periodic

upheavals have also created new, more modern jobs – and often in greater numbers than those that were lost.

The coming AI disruption, in other words, will likely have a net positive impact on employment.

INDUSTRY ANALYSTS PREDICT THAT AI WILL DRIVE GROWTH IN THE COMING YEARS AND DECADES. Gartner, a research and

advisory firm, estimates that AI-enabled tools will generate $2.9 trillion in business value by 2021, while PwC forecasts that by 2030, AI could contribute as much as $15.7 trillion to the global economy. Some estimates show that companies could save as much as $4 trillion annually with AI automation. And the benefits for businesses will go far beyond savings, as automation will spur innovation, improve forecasting, optimize operations, and lead to better customer service. In any technological transition, those leading the change cannot lose sight of the human element; there are some things even the smartest machines will never do. Machines don’t dream, set goals, or plan for college. Creativity, curiosity, and emotional intelligence will always be the province of people. Even when fed high diets of data, machines can learn only from the past, and cannot imagine the future. Fortunately, life and business are not purely mathematical chess matches. When I look to the future, I see a need for thoughtful debate about the social impact of AI. But I also see evidence that humanity’s greatest challenges have always been our greatest opportunities. WEIE

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BUSINESS & FINANCE

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

Good Times at Last Despite today’s unprecedented political risks and large-scale geopolitical realignments, key economic indicators from around the world are looking better than they have in years. But whether global economic growth exceeds 4% this year will depend on central bankers’ ability to strike the right monetary-policy balance. Jim O’Neill

L

ONDON - In February 2017, I wrote an optimistic commentary called “The Global Economy’s Surprising Resilience.” The piece came as a surprise to those who saw only bleak prospects for Western countries, not least the United States, where US President Donald Trump had just been inaugurated. Now, nearly a year later, my three decades of experience in global

financial markets leads me to believe that the economic situation is not quite as straightforward. On the positive side, the half-dozen cyclical indicators I listed last year remain strong, and some have even strengthened further. One key indicator is South Korea’s monthly trade data. The country’s exports grew by 15.8% in 2017, the largest increase since 1956, when it began reporting

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these data. Moreover, export growth occurred even as Trump threatened to withdraw from the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement and stoked tensions with North Korea – a powerful rebuke to those who have predicted retrenchment of global trade. As I suspected a year ago, the slowdown in global trade in past years probably stemmed from the euro crisis and falling commodity prices, and would thus prove temporary. Now that those two events are behind us, global trade appears to have picked up.

OF COURSE, MUCH WILL DEPEND ON WHETHER TRADE MOMENTUM CAN BE MAINTAINED. Although South Korea’s

export performance in December was impressive, it fell slightly short of forecasters’ expectations. We will have to wait and see if it remains strong in 2018. Another key cyclical indicator is reflected in monthly Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) surveys for manufacturing and services, which include underlying sub-indices for inventories and sales. Here, the news is remarkable: PMI survey results in many countries around the world are


BUSINESS & FINANCE

the strongest they have been in years. That includes the US, where I have found the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index to be consistently accurate and indicative of underlying realities. It also includes the eurozone, where PMI-survey data have reached their highest levels since before 2000. Even the United Kingdom’s monthly PMI surveys are showing momentum, though not as much as in other Western countries, most likely owing to the Brexit effect. If the global economic environment continues to improve, the UK might luck out in its timing for withdrawing from the European Union, notwithstanding the growth-weakening effects that Brexit will surely have. Crucially, key indicators for China are looking good, too, particularly in terms of long-term growth in services and domestic consumption. I continue to believe that these two factors will prove immensely consequential not just for China, but for the rest of the world as well. Many countries want to export more than just commodities and manufacturing inputs to China, and companies around the world are jockeying for access to China’s massive domestic market.

ALL TOLD, FORECASTS PROJECTING GLOBAL GDP GROWTH OF 4% OR MORE FOR 2018 SEEM CREDIBLE. I

would not be surprised to see sell-side forecasters lifting their numbers even further in the next two months. The International Monetary Fund almost certainly will at its annual spring meeting, if not sooner. So, what’s not to like in the global economic picture for 2018? For starters, as a veteran of financial markets, I am usually wary of a strong consensus. While many oftcited concerns in 2017 turned out to be unwarranted, that doesn’t mean economic risks have disappeared. In contrast to a year ago, people are increasingly acknowledging that the global economy is stronger than they had thought. But if growth continues to accelerate, the US Federal Reserve might end up hiking interest rates more than markets anticipated. And the other major central banks, particularly the People’s Bank of China, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan, might reverse their exceptionally loose monetary policies. To be sure, if the global economy is truly returning to relatively high and stable growth, monetary-policy tightening need not be harmful – and may even be less harmful than waiting for stronger evidence of inflation to emerge. Nevertheless, the world’s major economies have enjoyed remarkably generous monetary

policies for a decade – and for far longer in Japan’s case. At the end of the day, no one really knows what the consequences of higher interest rates will be. For my part, I suspect that productivity growth will accelerate in a number of places, which would justify monetarypolicy adjustments and make rising interest rates more tolerable. But that is just a hunch, based on my reading of tentative wage and productivity data in the UK and the US, among other places. One final concern is that, while not having gone full circle, the global mood has shifted from fear about political risks to obliviousness, even though many such risks still loom large.

THE POTENTIAL FALLOUT FROM POOR US LEADERSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA CANNOT BE IGNORED; nor can the

long-term challenges still confronting Europe. I have long believed that, at least for financial investors, it is better for everyone to be worried about everything than for a small minority to be worried on everyone else’s behalf. Still, and more important, as long as financial conditions don’t tighten excessively as a result of today’s cyclical strengthening, global economic performance for the rest of this decade could end up being more robust than anyone would have imagined just a few years ago. WEIE

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DUBAI Le Fonti Awards 2017 On December 13th, 2017, the world’s leading corporate stars reunited for a special occasion, the 38th Le Fonti Awards in Dubai. The Le Fonti Awards ceremony is held each year recognizing industry leaders in the fi elds of banking, business, economics, finance, sustainability, law, healthcare, insurance and e- commerce. This year, the Dubai Gala & CEO Summit was held at the Palace Downtown, a luxurious venue located in the heart of Dubai, hosted by the influential and prominent TV presenter and MC, Rania Ali. The event was capped by the CEO Summit entitled “Leadership & Innovation: Skills and Visions for Growth”. Each event commands diversity in decision making, inviting participants to participate in an open discussion on a variety of mainstream topics. Congratulations to all of the award winners.


LE FONTI AWARDS

CEO & TOP EXECUTIVES OF THE YEAR

Nashwa Al Ruwaini

Soren Nikolajsen

Pyramedia

Alawwal Bank

1 Vito Rotondi MEP Group

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2


CEO OF THE YEAR MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT MIDDLE EAST

CEO OF THE YEAR BANKING MIDDLE EAST

Nashwa Al Ruwaini

Soren Nikolajsen

Ms. Al Ruwaini is well-known for her continuous success and leading role in the industry, making her one of the most influential woman and entrepreneurs in the Middle East and globally. She is respected for her attention to quality, innovative contents and her commitment to promoting diversity and talent.

Mr. Nikolajsen is renowned for his long career in the bank as Director, and now as CEO, and for his ability to gain trust and ability to obtain successful business results. He has been helping the bank to reach new strategic goals in terms of growth and brand reputation, corporate social responsibility, employee management, and his active PA customers, shareholders and the wider community.

Pyramedia

Alawwal Bank

1

2

CEO OF THE YEAR INDUSTRIAL MACHINERY ITALY Soren Nikolajsen Alawwal Bank

Mr. Rotondi is a pioneer CEO in his ability to combine the needs of digitalization and automation in the wake of industry 4.0, while at the same time enhancing the human dimension. He has invested more than 10% of R & D revenue from his company MEP Group, a leading company in rebar equipment manufacturing, and has created the MEP Business School, giving birth to a new era in the social economy. Finally, he has consolidated the company’s leadership in industrial engineering and business information.

3

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LE FONTI AWARDS

LE FONTI BANKING

AWARDS

1

BANK OF THE YEAR RETAIL MIDDLE EAST Alawwal Bank

Alawwal Bank is renowned for its leading business model and constant growth, which makes it a point of reference, not only in Saudi Arabia but in the whole region. The bank has been consistently providing trusted banking services and innovative financial solutions to customers and businesses alike.

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70 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

Alawwal Bank


LE FONTI

CORPORATE

AWARDS

Pyramedia

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COMPANY OF THE YEAR FOR LEADERSHIP MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT MIDDLE EAST

EXCELLENCE OF THE YEAR FOR LEADERSHIP EDUCATION KUWAIT

Pyramedia

American International School

Pyramedia has developed a consolidated leadership in the Middle East media industry, providing renowned media services with a wide range of unique solutions. The company is recognized for producing world class shows, movies and documentaries, to regional and international audiences throughout the world.

The American International School in Kuwait is renowned for being a dynamic private, independent, co-educational day school serving students from pre-kindergarten through grade twelve. The school is recognized for its efficient scheduling and a strong sense of community.

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American International School

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January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 71


LE FONTI AWARDS

LE FONTI

REAL ESTATE AWARDS

Emaar The Economic City

SAK Real Estate Company

3 72 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

1

ZAS

2


DEVELOPMENT PROJECT OF THE YEAR MIDDLE EAST

EXCELLENCE OF THE YEAR FOR LEADERSHIP ARCHITECTURE MIDDLE EAST

EXCELLENCE OF THE YEAR FOR LEADERSHIP REAL ESTATE SAUDI ARABIA

Emaar The Economic City

ZAS

SAK Real Estate Company

Emaar Properties is renowned for creating a new world city for the benefit of businesses, citizens, and the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Its guiding leadership in the Middle East real estate industry and innovative approach makes the company a landmark in the region for “building the future�.

ZAS has been consistently providing a fully integrated and comprehensive service to its clients, regardless of the scale or complexity. The company is renowned for creatively collaborating with its clients, while respecting budget and time constraints.

SAK Real Estate Company has been consistently providing a complete spectrum of services essential in the field of architectural and engineering design consultancy, construction site supervision and project management. The company is renowned for pioneering Innovative architectural and sustainable engineering solutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region and for the SAK Jeddah head office building project.

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2

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January / March 2018 - World Excellence International Edition 73


LE FONTI AWARDS

LE FONTI LEGAL

AWARDS

Stefano Loconte

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy

Loconte & Partners

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LAWYER OF THE YEAR PRIVATE & WEALTH MANAGEMENT ITALY

LAW FIRM OF THE YEAR FAMILY LAW MIDDLE EAST

Stefano Loconte

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultancy

Mr. Loconte has become recognized throughout Italy for his successful management of international tax issues thanks to his dynamism, competence, and his multidisciplinary and personalized approach in the areas of legal, tax and wealth management. With his detailed knowledge of national and international regulatory instruments, Stefano Loconte is undoubtedly a trusted business partner.

Over the years, Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants has been delivering sound judgment to its clients, even regarding the most challenging and sensitive issues. The Law firm is renowned for its strong expertise in the Family Law sector and for always seeking to make the legal process as seamless as possible for its clients.

Loconte & Partners

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74 World Excellence International Edition - January / March 2018

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World Excellence - International Edition N° 27 | January / March  
World Excellence - International Edition N° 27 | January / March  
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