Saturday 29 November 2014

Davos Diary: Badges of honour that no one really wants

Published 26/01/2013 | 05:00

BADGES play a large role at Davos. Everybody wears one. At first it is a little odd to see household names identifying themselves but it makes sense.

Very few people are known everywhere and with so many famous people around, the friendly security staff can't be expected to recognise everybody. This being Davos, the badges come in many colours depending on status and grant access to different areas and events.

The system seems to work although it takes everybody a while to accept the indignity of so many people checking your name tag out and then making the mental calculus that you are not worth talking to.

Quick thinking

WHILE leaders are happy to wear the name tags in the crowded corridors of the conference centre itself, the sensible ones slip them off when the television cameras are around.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was quick to push his tag under his tie when doing an interview with a group of reporters on Thursday which included RTE's Tony Connolly and a camera. Like his fellow heads of state, the Taoiseach knows only too well that it would not be very Taoiseach-like to appear on the nine o'clock news looking like a hotel reception clerk.

Star turn with Ts

SPEAKING of the Taoiseach, Mr Kenny was the star turn at an IDA-sponsored dinner the other evening for around 50 chief executives who have either invested in or plan to invest in Ireland.

A surprise guest was Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who popped in unexpectedly for the party. The Taoiseach, backed up by Michael Noonan, gave his stump speech touching on what officials call the four Ts; taxes, talent, technology and track record. They flew home yesterday afternoon.

What's another year

ONE of the biggest take-homes from Davos is that Europe's political and business elites consider the euro crisis to be over.

Last year's World Economic Forum was dominated by fears for the future of the eurozone following a disorderly exit by Greece. There were endless conclaves between European and US officials and a lot of angst.

In 2012, Angela Merkel's speech was a standing room only affair. This year, the room was only two thirds full when she spoke while Mr Cameron brought in the crowds – the focus of global angst has shifted westwards to Britain and the US. That shows how much things have changed in 12 months.

Women and work

AN interesting public event was a panel discussion on women and work, and one of the most impressive speakers was Sheryl Sandberg.

Facebook's chief operating officer is a crusader for more honest dialogue between firms and women about combining work and family.

Admitting that Facebook's lawyers had begged her not to talk about this issue for fear of litigation, Ms Sandberg began her campaign two years ago when she suddenly remembered that the "lawyers work for me and not the other way around".

Winding down

There were signs yesterday evening that the forum was beginning to wind down, although it continues today and only wraps up officially tomorrow afternoon.

Among those arriving yesterday were Digicel boss Denis O'Brien who set up camp in the Steinberger Hotel to hold talks with Hans Vestberg, who runs Swedish phone maker Ericsson, and South African president Jacob Zuma. Later yesterday evening, he attended a ball for Haiti.

Among those also hanging on last night were former president Mary Robinson and the Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

Mrs Robinson is due to take part in a panel discussion on climate change and other issues called 'The moral economy; from social contract to social covenant'.

The archbishop (who has attended more Davos meetings than any other Irishman since his days in the Vatican) will talk on 'X factors; preparing for the unknown'.

Irish Independent

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