During her secondment with the World Economic Forum, Xanthi was the project manager for the Self-Driving Vehicles in an Urban Context project. The project is the latest step in a multiyear collaboration with BCG on connected mobility. The project engages leaders from cities, national governments, and the private sector to accelerate the development of new models of urban mobility that are based on autonomous transport.
Xanthi contributed to the development of an in-depth overview of consumer attitudes toward autonomous driving. She helped conduct focus groups in three countries and an extensive survey across ten countries. In addition, she analyzed the role of autonomous mobility from the perspective of cities, by conducting a series of interviews with city policymakers worldwide.
Xanthi also investigated how the city of the future—including self-driving vehicles—might look under different scenarios and the impact on society of such changes in terms of number of vehicles, emissions, space gained, and other factors. The insights from these analyses are the basis for discussions with cities and other stakeholders on making self-driving vehicles in urban environments a reality.
The secondment was a unique platform for me to engage deeply with cities, governments, and private companies from a broad range of industries—all of which are rethinking urban mobility based on technological advances such as autonomous driving.
Our discussions with private and public leaders in Davos, Dalian, San Francisco, and San Diego centered around the potential contribution of self-driving vehicles to solve cities' challenges. Our work highlighted the need for multiple stakeholders to collaborate to remove the current obstacles holding back widespread adoption.
As a secondee on the Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, BCG Principal Christoph Rothballer, who holds a PhD in infrastructure finance, developed recommendations on how to successfully prepare and accelerate public-private partnerships (PPPs) in infrastructure. He collaborated with a wide range of partners, including engineering and construction companies, investors, academia, government representatives, and multilateral development banks.
To synthesize the lessons learned, Christoph reviewed past PPP projects from around the world (from both developing and developed countries) and interviewed a large number of stakeholders. He also prepared and conducted a number of sessions at the various World Economic Forum events around the world.
I used to picture the World Economic Forum as being only about Davos. I now know it to be an institution with the convening power to bring high-level stakeholders—presidents, ministers, and CEOs—to the table throughout the year and also on a regional level. As such, it can facilitate projects that require input from the private sector, public sector, and civil society—such as the work I’ve been doing around infrastructure.
In emerging countries, where there is rapid economic growth and urbanization, many governments lack the financial resources and skills to provide the required infrastructure assets quickly and efficiently. Our report with the World Economic Forum offers comprehensive and actionable best-practices for those governments looking to close the asset gap with the private sector through public-private partnerships.
During her secondment with Save the Children International, Cortina McCurry worked on the development of an operating model to support the core ambition of the organization's International Programs: delivering high-quality programs for children. These children are often the most marginalized and live in some of the world’s most fragile and conflict-ridden zones.
With more than 17,000 employees, Save the Children International must coordinate its operations across a large team spanning more than 50 country offices and 7 regions.
On some occasions during my secondment, I have served as a leadership coach, supporting the senior management of the organization's International Programs in defining the organization's strategy and operating more effectively as a team. I have also traveled to Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Senegal to help senior management teams improve their ways of working and to deliver on their strategy.
In the fall of 2014, I was privileged to have the opportunity to support Save the Children International's Ebola response. The rapid response tested the limits of the project management tools available to coordinate such a large effort, which spanned the three affected countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea) and hundreds of deployed individuals. Being able to contribute by customizing for-profit tools to meet the needs of the dynamic nature of the response was very rewarding, and I learned so much.
Adrien Portafaix joined WWF as a secondee, in the organization’s Cape Town office, to help define and roll out the Corporate Water Stewardship strategy across WWF’s global network. Water stewardship is about enrolling the private sector to help sustainably manage water resources—not for philanthropic motives, but because freshwater is an operational risk to water-using sectors.
My position working with WWF on its Corporate Water Stewardship strategy was a great balance between strategic work and fieldwork. Integrated Water Stewardship strategies at basin (river) level were being developed for the first time. I had to develop a framework and an approach from scratch.
Using this approach, we performed research, analyses, and field trips to formulate tailored strategies, notably defining goals for each river basin, and which stakeholders to engage with to deliver on these goals. Finally, I supported local teams in their engagement with local corporate partners, notably in South Africa.