Business Leaders for Michigan Hosts Annual CEO Summit


More than 500 business executives, policymakers, nonprofit, and community leaders attended the sixth annual Michigan CEO Summit at the Westin Book Cadillac on Thursday in Detroit.

“One of the themes running through (the) discussions has been the breakneck pace of change,” says Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan, which hosted the event. “Shifting technologies, globalization, and a host of other factors require today’s business leaders to be forward-thinking, highly adaptable, and capable of making lightning-quick decisions.”

Featured speakers included Rothwell; Brian Walker, president and CEO of Herman Miller Inc.; E.T. Mike Miller, director of Google Technical Services; Phil Hagerman, CEO of Diplomat and Skypoint Ventures; and Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. Keynote speakers included David N. Farr, chairman and CEO of Emerson and chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers, who spoke on making America stronger and what Michigan manufacturers must do to compete in a global economy.

During a discussion entitled Liberate the Human Journey (moderated by Rothwell), Hackett discussed the future of smart mobility and how technology will impact the human experience, and where Ford fits into it.

“The turnover of knowledge used to be 25 years, and now it’s less than a year, and soon it will be less than a day,” says Hackett. “You haven’t seen anything in terms of what’s coming … and it’s pure magic. We have to author a future where Ford’s role is to augment human performance and create something really great.”

As mobility solutions continue to evolve, Hackett also emphasized the importance of trust between consumers and companies.

“We have to build trust in these vehicles we haven’t seen yet, that we can serve the needs and understand human use,” he adds. “The evolution of mobility will be similar to how computers were: If I showed you a photo of the first computer that Bill Gates and Paul Allen programmed, there were no keyboards, there were binary switches.

“If I hold up my iPhone to that and say what happened in this generation, it’s not just the power of computing, it’s the humanist interpreting the computer science for the ways humans would love to use it.”

Though the future of mobility may seem murky to consumers now, Hackett also emphasized Ford’s commitment to improving user’s lives through evolving forms of transportation.

“Ford’s future is not about giving up the car. I’m here to tell you that and I’ve told the company that,” he said. “But there’s no dumb cars in the future, so we have to evolve things to be even smarter; in the past five years, there’s been innovations we never could have predicted.”

Attendees at the CEO Summit also received a preview of BLM’s economic benchmarking report, which shows Michigan’s progress regarding economic indicators including per capita personal income, GDP, population, and the unemployment rate.

Specifically, the report indicates that Michigan’s unemployment rate has dropped 9 percent since 2009 and per capita income has experienced positive growth every year since 2009, except for a small decline in 2013. Michigan’s per capita GDP growth has outpaced peer and “top 10” states five of the past seven years and was nearly 10 times the growth rate from 2015-2016.

“Jobs, income and productivity continue to make substantial gains — and that’s certainly no accident,” says Rothwell. “While we have a long way to go in absolute terms, our progress is unmistakable and gives us every reason to expect we’ll be able to overcome our remaining challenges. What’s needed now are collaboration, consistency, and competitive backbone.”

A full version of the report can be found here.

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