Though we are excited to be heading to Paris soon for our Spring Seminar with Page and Page Up members from around the world, it wasn’t the original plan. We were meant to be there in 2020, and we all know why that didn’t happen. But the events of the four years since have only added to the value and significance of holding this conference in Europe. 

Not since the establishment of the post-World War II order has Europe's stability been under such threat. This year, half the world’s population will vote in democratic elections as populist, protectionist, and nationalist movements gain traction. A poll we conducted late last year showed that geopolitics and elections are the leading risks on the minds of CCOs going into 2024. 

With that daunting backdrop, we’ll begin a conference focused on international leadership with a conversation with former Polish head of state Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who last week called for Europe to increase its involvement with NATO. “I think that at this moment, the number one task of all NATO countries is to maintain the integrity of the alliance and sustain this structure as effective, operational, and truly ready to defend us,” he said to Polish News Agency PAP. Recognizing Europe’s reliance on the U.S. for defense, he added that Europe should “contribute more to security matters, strengthen its defense industry, starting thinking - first and foremost about joint rapid response forces, and perhaps a European army in the future.” If ever there were a statement that illustrates the new world we are about to enter, that’s it. 

Roger Bolton and I will also preview the findings of Page’s latest research, which examined how the CCO role has evolved since 2020. Growing remits and influence have spread CCOs thin as they transform their functions to meet new expectations. We’ll use our time together to hear about members’ experiences navigating this challenging time - an opportunity to learn from each other and shape the final report.

There’s no substitute for being together in person, and I look forward to the magic that creates. We each experience life through our own context, and it’s always interesting to see the world through another’s lens. As we wrap up, we’ll allow everyone to share their own takeaways and highlights—a unique chance to process everything we heard and benefit from the unique perspective of our fellow members.