Event Details

The pandemic has often been referred to as a "black swan" event – unexpected, unpredictable, and highly disruptive. Many scientists, however, had been warning of the probability of a "Disease X" pandemic for years, and some governments had developed contingency plans for pandemics, whether due to their experience with SARS or their concerns over bioterrorism.

Covid-19, then, was not so much a "black swan" as it was a "grey rhino" – a known potential problem that could be addressed, but that is often ignored. When such events come to pass, they can be just as disruptive as the unexpected ones, as the last year has shown. Looking ahead, what are the other "grey rhinos" out there, and how can we prepare for them?

In this session we will explore some of the social, political, environmental, technological, and economic events that can disrupt your business and for which you can do some preparation. Our speakers will not merely provide a "doom and gloom" list of bad things that can happen, but instead will also explore how some degree of preparation can be helpful. We encourage you to contribute your own concerns, and your ideas for addressing them, to the conversation, so the entire network can benefit.

Please note that this event is limited to senior-level executives and per invitation only. If you are not an existing member of The Economist Corporate Network, but would like to learn how you can attend our events, please send an email to ecn_sea@economist.com.


8:30 AM - 10 AM
Presentation and Discussion


  • William Thomas (Director, South-east Asia of The Economist Corporate Network)

    William Thomas

    Director, South-east Asia of The Economist Corporate Network

    William Thomas is the Director of the Economist Corporate Network in South-east Asia. An experienced advisor to senior business and government leaders, he helps organisations understand the strategic, operational, and talent implications of geopolitical changes.

    William holds a PhD in public policy from George Mason University in the US, as well as a degree in economics from the University of Virginia and an MBA. His academic research has centered on managing change in large, multinational organisations, with an emphasis on organisational culture.

    William is a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel, having spent much of his 21-year career as a strategic planner for complex operations such as humanitarian assistance and counterterrorism. He was Associate Professor of Political Science at the US Air Force Academy, and later taught at Georgetown University in Washington DC and as a Fulbright Scholar at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

    Having worked in Asia since 2012, William has focused on leadership development and organisational change as a consultant, leadership coach, and training facilitator.

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