Aston Alumni hear from The Economist Editor

Daniel Franklin

25 June 2012

Alumni from three decades at Aston Business School in Birmingham enjoyed a prestigious reunion at a landmark building in London.

The annual event, this year held at the Institute of Directors, saw around seventy Aston Business School graduates from the classes of 1976 to 2012, gathered under one roof.

The guest of honour was Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist.   Dr Franklin has worked at The Economist for nearly thirty years, joining after gaining his PhD from Aston University for research on East European foreign trade.  Since 2003 he has been Editor of The Economist's annual publication, "The World in...", which focuses on the year ahead. Dr Franklin has been Executive Editor of The Economist since 2006 and its Business Affairs Editor since 2010.

In his after-dinner speech Dr Franklin talked about "Megachange" as he reflected on his experiences since leaving Aston, and on what may lie ahead in the decades to come. His comments were based on the book "Megachange: The World in 2050", which he edited.

Dr Franklin highlighted three developments that he believes will shape the world in 2050: demography, the power of emerging economies and technological change. 

Changes in demography, particularly the rate of ageing of populations of some countries compared to others, will have a significant impact on the economic landscape.  Furthermore, he pointed to the growing importance of developing economies, including the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) but also other big countries such as Nigeria and Indonesia.  Inevitably, technological change will be a significant influence on the world in 2050.  Dr Franklin suggested that advances in biology, ways to make use of the explosive growth of "big data" and revolutionary new techniques in manufacturing will become increasingly significant.

Dr Franklin concluded by giving alumni three pieces of advice: make sure that you have reliable colleagues in the right places, don’t be afraid to embrace change and think the unthinkable, and finally, be lucky.

Also in attendance at the alumni dinner were Aston University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King and Professor John Edwards, the Executive Dean of Aston Business School.

In her welcome address Professor King acknowledged the appropriateness of holding the dinner at the Institute of Directors as, like Aston, it is in organisation that believes in realising high standards of excellence in business and, like Aston, is a champion for the entrepreneur. 

She went on to pay tribute to the alumni in attendance who, through their continued association with Aston, help the University to deliver a life-transforming experience for its students and advance critical research which benefits business worldwide. 

Vincenzo Garzya, an MBA graduate and Project Manager at GlaxoSmithKline said:
“The night was delightful, with the opportunity to meet members of the great Aston community and the chance to network with new members to strengthen our bonds. Inspirational speeches from Daniel Franklin’s speech was inspirational, focusing on the role of science, environment and demographics in the context ”change" with regard to the future and its sustainable features.”

Jinyan Ji, an MSc Finance and Investments graduate and Market Risk Manager at Barclays also commented:
“It was great to hear exciting news of Aston University and meet wonderful alumni during the event, which reminded me of the passion and aspiration I had as a university student. I also enjoyed the thought provoking speech from Daniel Franklin, which was such an interesting overview of some evolutionary and revolutionary events and a vivid sketch of some parts of an amazing career.”