The Limassol Economic Forum (‘LEF’) has established itself as the premier business event in Cyprus regularly attracting leading political, economic, professional and business figures as both speakers and audience. Given recent social and economic turbulence it is no surprise that this year’s topic “What it takes to be a CEO in the 2020s?” also attracted a stellar cast of performers and a record number of attendees. Originally intended to be an ‘in person’ conference, plans had to be changed almost literally overnight when the Cyprus government imposed new Covid 19 restrictions on the Limassol District. If ever they need an example of how to deal with unexpected change and uncertainty the organizers and speakers at the 2020 LEF will have a textbook case to fall back on! It was a credit to all concerned that the LEF went ahead on schedule, and, for the first time, as a ‘virtual’ event with more than 1400 attendees.
The opening remarks by former Minister of Energy, George Lakkotrypis, followed by those of keynote speaker Martin Wolf Chief Economics Commentator and Associate Editor of the UK Financial Times set the tone for the day. Both touched on the vast array on uncertainties impacting modern life, with Martin Wolf also choosing to highlight significant trends which he believes already exist, or will emerge, to further destabilize the current status quo. These included the rise of the Asian economies, global warming, a growth in refugees and an increase in ‘virtual’ globalization.
Against that rather sombre backdrop ensuing speakers including Managing Partner, Elias Neocleous, focused on exploring the qualities necessary for a CEO to perform successfully. A consensus displayed was that the CEO should be a leader backed by a skilled team that is encouraged to perform to its full potential. Micro-management was regarded not only as sub-optimal for success but also generally impossible given the complexities of modern business. The twin concepts of innovation and adaptability also featured heavily with speakers all believing that it is a core responsibility of a CEO to foster both attributes within the management team and the workforce. Elias Neocleous also suggested that a focus on quality performance at all levels can help to ensure that a business is well equipped to foresee future problems and opportunities, whilst Andreas Neocleous, CEO Cyta, highlighted the importance of good communication both within and without an organization. Elias Neocleous also stressed that the strength of a ‘Free Market Economy’ lies in the ability of businesses within it to adapt to general changing conditions and, to sudden unpredictable events such as the current pandemic. He believes that Elias Neocleous & Co LLC can remain at the forefront of the legal market in Cyprus and the surrounding region if the firm continues to foster an environment that encourages staff to utilize technology appropriately and to be creative and innovative in addressing the needs of clients. In a lighter moment he also offered TV series “The new Pope” as recommended ‘lockdown’ viewing.
Certainly, the 11th LEF offered its participants and attendees plenty of food for thought. The success of this year’s event will also raise some questions and possibilities for the organisers of 2021 LEF. Covid 19 permitting perhaps next year will see LEF with both a ‘live’ and a ‘virtual’ audience.
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