Jan 24, 2012 • By

A global gathering like no other

More than 2,600 of the world’s top business leaders and CEOs descended on the Swiss Alps town of Davos today for the World Economic Forum. Among the attendees are General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell, and our Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of our International business, Chris O’Leary.

After a lackluster snowfall in our hometown of Minneapolis this winter, reports from Davos suggest they are in for a true winter experience — the snow there currently measures several yards deep, with more to come.

“In the last 42 years, I have never seen so much snow in Davos,” the World Economic Forum’s founder, Klaus Schwab, tweeted on Sunday.

The theme of this year’s snowy gathering is “The Great Transformation,” and will focus on how leaders exercise their responsibilities to improve the state of the world for future generations.

Several key issues elevated by the World Economic Forum, including environmental sustainability, world hunger, and social development, are key areas of focus for General Mills as well as in more than 100 countries around the world where we operate.

We sat down with Chris before he left for his fifth consecutive trip to Davos, to hear about his plans for the week, and what to expect in Davos this year.

“A key issue we will be discussing in Davos is world hunger. How do we feed a world that is expected to grow from 7 billion people to 9 billion people over the next few decades? And how do we do that in a sustainable way? It is critical that we work together to feed an increasingly hungry world safely, while responsibly stewarding the world’s land, water and resources for future generations.”

According to Chris, the spirit of collaboration in Davos is critical to the effectiveness of the forum.

“You can very quickly strike up a conversation with someone at Davos, and realize that you are marching toward the same goals. It’s really quite helpful.”

Hear more from our conversation with Chris about Davos in this video clip, as he talks about his first trip to the World Economic Forum, when he was surprised to hear one of the speakers talk about our Hamburger Helper brand.

In this clip, Chris talks about why leaders from General Mills make it a priority to attend the forum.

Finally, in this clip from our interview, Chris says the forum at Davos offers him a chance to have conversations with people from around the world that he wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to meet.

Editor’s note: The photo above shows the congress center of Davos/Switzerland where the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012 is taking place. Copyright World Economic Forum (weforum.org and swiss-image.ch – Photo by Andy Mettler)