An award-winning forum on the country’s business scene

By Adrian Paul B. Conoza, Assistant Special Features Editor

Over the past 35 years, BusinessWorld has grown from just a newspaper covering business developments to an events platform where its target audience can hear discussions about the latest information and insights. Among these events that the media outfit regularly organizes, the BusinessWorld Economic Forum has established itself as one of the most anticipated annual meetings of the Philippine business community.

The forum began in 2016, when BusinessWorld saw the potential of hosting an annual large-scale on-the-ground event as an additional revenue stream and content platform. Around this time, the newspaper industry began to see a continued decline in printing revenue.

The first Economic Forum was themed “Charting Progress to 2020,” with MVP Group of Companies President Manuel V. Pangilinan, former Secretary of Finance Carlos G. Dominguez III and former Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo as keynote speakers, alongside several panelists. public and private sectors. The forum brought together 850 senior executives, business owners and decision makers from different sectors across the country.

Successive editions have made the Economic Forum an event the business community cannot afford to miss as it shines a light on the latest key issues, developments, challenges and opportunities shaping the economy.

Highlighting these things has been the hallmark of the forum, noted BusinessWorld executive vice president Lucien C. Dy Tioco.

“The Economic Forum really speaks to the influence of BusinessWorld on the business community, and it served as a premium brand that people took to be the go-to for knowing the state of our economy,” he said. shared in an interview.

The annual BusinessWorld Economic Forum is also notable for bringing together government officials, executives, thought leaders, and industry experts from home and even abroad in one place.

“It (the forum) helps to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors, and it gives them the opportunity to dialogue and eventually work together for the benefit and growth of the country as a whole,” said the BusinessWorld’s director of sales and marketing, Jay R. Sarmiento shared.

“Even when we were doing a physical event (of the forum), you could really see the people who are the ‘Who’s Who’ of the company in one place. It’s remarkable, what you don’t see in other business conferences,” added Mr. Dy Tioco.

2020 brought a long lockdown across the country due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but that didn’t stop BusinessWorld from hosting the forum. Instead, it moved from on-premises to online in November of that year as the BusinessWorld Virtual Economic Forum (BWVEF), with the theme “Forecast 2021: Restart. Rethink. Remodel. »

This edition featured 43 local and international personalities, including Børge Brende from the World Economic Forum (WEF), Bernardo Mariano, Jr. from the World Health Organization, Ndiamé Diop from the World Bank and Kelly Bird from the Asian Development Bank ( AfDB). Discussions focused on how businesses and the economy can move forward amid the pandemic, with topics including “The Great Reset”, COVID-19 vaccination, digital transformation and trends in the ” new normal”, among others.

As digitalization has accelerated during the pandemic – from businesses digitally modernizing their operations to consumers turning to digital tools for work and transactions – BusinessWorld has focused on the digital economy with a special edition of the BWVEF, on the theme “The digital economy PH: towards a faster economy”. Economic recovery”, in May 2021.

Keynote speeches were delivered by Fernando Zobel De Ayala, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ayala Corp. ; Bernadette Nacario, Country Director of Google Philippines; and Kais Marzouki, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Philippines. Discussions focused on bridging the “digital divide,” hybrid working, and omnichannel strategies, to name a few.

The following November, the virtual forum brought together nearly 50 international and local experts to draw and shape the “PH recovery roadmap: 2022 and beyond”. This edition was marked by keynote presentations by Changyong Rhee from the International Monetary Fund and Francisco Betti from the WEF. Discussions focused on pandemic-induced changes, business resilience and sustainability, emerging industries and connectivity, smart cities, climate change and circular economy, among others.

“It really shows the resilience of the Philippines…because we have provided several cases where there have been success stories and several innovations from the Philippine business community,” Mr. Dy Tioco said of the 2021 edition. .

Conversations about advancing the new normal continued last May when the forum looked at the various accelerating and emerging changes that are expected to impact businesses in the near future.

With the theme “Revolutions 2022: Navigating a Changed World”, the recent BWVEF featured presentations on four tracks characterizing the “revolutions” that will define the global landscape, namely sustainability, industry, internet and revolutions human.

An Economic Perspective and Agenda for Asia’s Development, presented by the AfDB’s Chief Economist, Albert Park, set the tone for the forum’s presentations and related discussions, which covered topics such as transformations of corporate leadership, setting net zero goals, changing corporate game plans, the metaverse, and the “Great Quit” trend, among others.

BWVEF was hosted on an interactive platform featuring 360-degree animated videos mimicking a physical location; an open room for networking opportunities; exhibition room; live polls; photo booth; and a comments and questions tab to interact with speakers.

Through insightful discussions with top local and global minds, the BusinessWorld Virtual Economic Forum has become a valuable asset to Business world, which makes the brand stand out more from other media companies. Along with other digital-focused initiatives, the forum has helped the company weather the disruptive waves of the pandemic.

The BWVEF in 2020 is notable for bringing together 1,200 attendees, with 40% of attendees comprising C-level executives and department heads. Exceeding its target number of attendees by 108%, the BWVEF 2021 had a total of 538 attendees, of which 66% are presidents, vice presidents, C-level executives, directors and regional leaders. BWVEF 2022, on the other hand, garnered 651 registrants.

Complementing these numbers, feedback from attendees, speakers and sponsors further demonstrates the established relevance of the forum.

“The expressions of gratitude given to us by attendees from the comment box, the positive feedback from speakers as well as their willingness to always accept our invitation, the influx of new sponsors and the continued patronage of other sponsors of our forum from physical to digital are clear proof of the success of the forum,” said Ms. Sarmiento.

The recent recognitions BusinessWorld has received from reputable award-winning bodies also testify to the strong relevance of the Economic Forum.

The first BWVEF is among the winning entries of the 19e Philippine Quill Awards, which recognizes the best programs, tools and research projects in communication. This edition is also a top contender in the Communication Skills division of the awards program. The best winners of the 19e The Philippine Quill Awards will be announced on August 18.

BWVEF 2021, meanwhile, won a special award from 21st Asian Media Awards (AMA) from the World Association of Newspaper Editors, the global organization for the world’s press.

The said edition received a special silver award for the best revenue diversification project/product/service for small and medium-sized news media companies with annual sales of less than US$10 million. The category recognizes “new, innovative news-related projects/products/services that engage audiences and increase media brand awareness while creating a new sustainable revenue stream.”

For BusinessWorld Editor-in-Chief Wilfredo G. Reyes, this latest award proves how BusinessWorld can effectively and productively move from paper to a very different platform.

“This achievement recognized our ability to quickly seize opportunities to produce and deliver content, and at the same time earn money doing it. Meaningful revenue diversification has been the elusive pursuit of newspapers for decades,” Mr. Reyes said.

With the special AMA award, BusinessWorld joins the list of reputable Asian publications this year, which includes Japanese Nikkei Asiafrom Hong Kong South China Morning Postfrom Singapore HPS Mediaand Indonesia Media Indonesia.

“I just think our victory on the Asian stage is just one step towards global recognition,” Mr. Dy Tioco said.

The next BusinessWorld Economic Forum should be held in November in hybrid mode. Delegates can choose to attend online or onsite.

“We are really excited because this is a chance to see each other face to face again. Fingers crossed I hope there will be nothing untoward at this time,” Mr Dy Tioco said. .

Melvin B. Baillie