Jumping the Sun: Creating Competitive Advantage in an Increasingly Flat World

RoseTo address what American business and higher education must do to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing global marketplace, Wake Forest University hosted a panel discussion moderated by Emmy Award-winning journalist Charlie Rose at 4 PM on April 10th and featured four top executives who represented a mix of global businesses:  satellite communications, computer technology, banking and branded apparel marketing.

The event was introduced by Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and included the following panelists:  Charlie Ergen, founder, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of EchoStar Communications/DISH Network; John Medica, former senior vice president of the consumer product group at Dell Inc.; Ken Thompson, president and CEO of Wachovia Corporation; and Eric Wiseman, president and chief operating officer of VF Corporation. 

During the 90-minute event, Rose presented the panelists, all graduates of Wake Forest’s Babcock Graduate School of Management, with questions related to how businesses can create value in the global economy through: identifying and capitalizing on trends and opportunities; infusing creativity and innovation into the economy; sustaining the entrepreneurial spirit; and training and developing future business leaders.

The discussion is part of the University’s “Voices of Our Time” speaker series.  Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch initiated the series to further expand what he considers the university’s broader “educational calling.”

"The University needs to be a crossroads of discussion, not just for those on its campus, but also for the community, the nation and the world,” Hatch said.  “Every day in the media, we hear about the challenges businesses face and it’s often discouraging news.  We all need opportunities to hear about what is working in our economy, and how higher education plays a critical role in equipping young leaders,” Hatch said. 

According to organizers, the panel discussion is titled Jumping the Sun to symbolize two important facts:  somewhere in the world the competition is awake and working, and American businesses must be prepared to jump into unknown territory.

"We need to see how a banking company, like Wachovia, uses their creativity and innovation to compete in the new world order,” Hatch said.  “We also need to hear how VF has transformed itself from a clothing manufacturer into a global branded apparel marketer.  This type of discussion is what helps generate hope, new ideas, better solutions and economic growth.”