Leading the government of one’s country — a G-7 country in Canada’s case — is an unparalleled privilege. There is simply no greater honour. Now, although my decade in high public office is behind me, I am more eager than ever to invest my energy in the mentorship and empowerment of a new generation of leaders — those tackling some of the most complex challenges of our time.
Our world is marked by rapidly changing geopolitical, economic and security conditions. Against this backdrop, it is critical that a new cohort of business leaders successfully navigate risk and deliver on core mandates of imagination, innovation and implementation. To tackle our most complex problems while improving the lives of our citizens, we need smart, disruptive technologies to continue coming to market. But we cannot afford to just hope that businesses will be successful simply due to their creativity, profitability or technical brilliance. Rather, in the digital era, we must actively work to support badly needed innovation, particularly process and system transformation.
Technological advance has always marked human society, but our lifetimes are witnessing a dramatic acceleration of this trend. We are seeing change at a pace that is weakening the very structures underpinning our economies and social institutions. Systems and processes designed following the Second World War, or even following the Cold War, simply cannot properly function in a world of globalized trade, digital commerce and big data. To reverse this erosion, to jump the innovation curve, and to enter the market with viable solutions to these problems requires a vision and technical capacity unlike any other.
Over the past year, I have witnessed not only the depth of 8VC’s engineering capability, but also the breadth of their strategic vision. This combination of agile talent and world-class ideas is both impressive and inspiring. In focusing on vital sectors such as healthcare, transportation and financial transactions, 8VC is positioned for long-term global relevance. More importantly, by taking this approach 8VC is empowering institutions and individuals with real solutions to real problems — solutions that have the potential to improve lives in meaningful ways.
Despite the political and economic upheavals in parts of the world, I believe we ought to recognize the profound progress made in our age and look to the future with optimism. In recent decades, nearly a billion people have been lifted out of poverty. Deadly diseases have been conquered. Peace has been hard won in many places. Personal freedoms are expanding for an ever greater number of individuals. All that is not to say, of course, that we should just accept the status quo or be complacent about further progress. Quite the contrary, we must intensify our own efforts to tackle challenges in pursuit of a better world.
As leaders and executives, you are inheriting a world of unquestionably complex problems. But at the same time you enjoy more tools, more resources and easier access to information than at any other time in history. The raw materials required to realise generational breakthroughs exist as never before. Now, more than ever, the path to continued prosperity and stability requires solutions from beyond the formalized structures of the public sector.
8VC is at the leading edge, tackling the deep and difficult problems that institutions and citizens are facing today. That is why I am so pleased to be joining the community you have built in San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto and indeed, around the world, in support of your important work.