World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2015 1) My First Day in Davos

Yoshito Hori, president of GLOBIS University, managing partner of GLOBIS Capital Partners, shares his views from an entrepreneur's perspective.

After leaving Zurich Airport, the chartered bus ran though the valleys of the Swiss Alps for about two and a half hours. Then, crossing over a hill, I saw a familiar sight: as the bus entered the town of Davos, I felt a great sense of nostalgia.

It has been 12 years since I first participated in the annual meeting and this year it is my eighth time. In an article published by Reuters yesterday, a 10-time participant in the Davos meeting was quoted as saying, “it gives me a picture of how 2015 may play out and it’s impossible to get the same quantity or quality of interaction in such a condensed period of time in any other place on the planet.” I totally agree with this opinion.

The annual meeting in Davos is attractive in that global movers and shakers with diverse backgrounds gather from throughout the world. The number of participants in the meeting is limited to only 2,500 people, all of whom are experts in their respective field and are able to demonstrate great insights in the sessions. The event therefore provides an incomparable opportunity that you cannot find anywhere else on the planet.

It has been 12 years since I first participated in the meeting and this is the eighth one for me. Among the Japanese delegates from the business world, I am the most frequent as well as the longest participant. As a representative of Japan, I would like to make the greatest possible contribution. This year, Prime Minister Abe is unable to attend the meeting to give his message as the top leader of Japan, and instead each one of participants from Japan, including myself, must stand out as representing the country.

On the bus heading to Davos, I watched the following video on the GLOBIS website and was quite inspired about the importance of Japan communicating effectively to the world.
Japan in the Media: What Should Japan’s Story be, How Should Japan Communicate it?

For Japan to get its messages across to the world, a greater number of people in the country must become effective international communicators in their own right, without relying on the abilities of top leaders. It is the number, the volume, and the tone of ordinary citizens’ voices that determines whether Japan can make itself better understood by the world.

In this annual meeting in Davos, I intend to voice out my views in my various capacities as a session speaker, a GGC co-chairman, and as the host of the Japan Night & GLOBIS Night, while seeking to expand and strengthen my network. With this mind frame, I passed through the reception desk to enter the venue for the dinner party.

At about 8 p.m., the dinner session on “Global Growth Companies (GGC),” for which I serve as co-chairman, began. After Professor Rita McGrath at Columbia Business School made a speech, we discussed the importance of responding to changes and fiercely making innovations based on the cases of Kodak and Fujifilm. There were diverse participants in the discussion, including representatives from Nigeria, the United States, South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Sweden. The quality of the discussion was quite high. All the participants were managing their own businesses and had a very strong sense of crisis regarding change.

After the session ended just after 10 p.m., I walked to the hotel with a managing director of the World Economic Forum. It was nice to walk along the snowy street. Thanks to the shoe attachments given to me at the reception desk, it was not at all slippery. I could see my breath and felt comfortable despite the freezing air temperature.

Now back in my hotel room, I am writing this column. At this annual meeting in Davos, I would like to write and dispatch a column every day based on what I have tweeted that day. I used to write a column on the meeting on the flight back to Japan. But this year, I am taking on the challenge of writing a column in parallel with tweeting.

To keep my focus on writing, I will refrain from drinking a lot. Now it is past midnight, and I must get up early also tomorrow. I will soon take a shower and ready myself for bed.

Yoshito Hori
In Davos
January 20, 2015


Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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