The Bullog – May 2021

Greetings Bullogers!

Vexed about the Vax

There are relatively few times when old age is actually an advantage.  One such example is that it nudges you ahead in the queue for the COVID-19 vaccine, especially if you live in a richer country. But we’ll come to that. Now that I’m approaching 50 (from the wrong direction), I was given my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine last week in Geneva and have the second one lined up in late May. As you might expect with the Swiss, the process was quick and efficient and I was out within a matter of minutes.

Lucky me.  However, I admit to having rather mixed emotions about the whole situation. On the one hand, I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity and it gives me hope that I will soon be able to visit friends and family and in time, have back a bit more of the freedom we all cherish . Yet, there is also a sense of guilt that I am one of the lucky elite when so many others in the poorest countries around the world have no vaccine in sight.  It’s the same pangs of guilt I feel on the rare occasions I go for a Michelin star meal, knowing that when so many are starving, my bill for two would feed a small village.

It would be hard not to be moved by the horrifying scenes in India, often ironically referred to as the world’s pharmacy, based on its generic manufacturing capacity. The inequity is scandalous given that more than half of all vaccines administered so far I’ve been in Europe and North America, with less than 1% going to the world’s poorest countries.  It’s become a cliché, but the harsh reality is that none of us are safe until we are all safe.  There has to be a far more equitable rollout of the vaccine globally if we are to develop this much heralded herd immunity.

Of course, the big question is, how can this be done?  There is currently a fevered debate about whether intellectual property(IP) rights should be relaxed to grant licences to countries with the manufacturing capacity to produce at scale for the rest of the world. This is, of course, met with great resistance from Big Pharma seeking to recover R&D investments.   There are arguments on both sides but I tend to believe that a lot of the reluctance from corporates does come down to protecting profits although I’m prepared to admit it’s a complex issue.

Yet we do have a president from the 1990s, when generic licenses were granted for HIV drugs allowing prices to plummet around the world and millions got affordable access to ARVs. Indeed, one of the projects I was most proud of when I led Accenture’s not-for-profit unit, ADP, was the role we played in helping create the Medicines Patent Pool some 10 years ago. With funding from Unitaid, we helped the then CEO, Ellen ‘t Hoen (watch her inspiring TED Talk), develop their strategy and provided many of the operational staff for the first few years.  A decade on, the MPP’s track record is incredibly impressive having provided almost 2 billion treatments in almost 148 countries.  I was encouraged to read that they are offering their deep expertise in IP Rights to the WHO and others.

This pandemic is of an unprecedented scale and is devastating lives and livelihoods around the world.  We therefore need an unprecedented response and I sincerely hope that the leaders of these pharmaceutical giants will put purpose over profit and show their detractors that business can indeed be a force for good.

Ready for a Reset?

Many of you attended and enjoyed the RESET 2021 event we did on the 9th of January.  Well, there’s only two weeks to go before we have our next exciting event – Spring RESET on 16th May from 2-5:30pm (UK), 9-12:30pm (EST).  

We have a fabulous line-up of talented performers from the Craigberoch Cast and the event will comprise music, meditation, art, improv and much more.  The best news is that you can get access to all of this absolutely FREE so take just 20 short seconds to REGISTER HERE now. Our team would also be very grateful for your help in spreading the word to friends, colleagues and anyone else you feel might need a little bit of a reset after so many months of confinement.  Yes, I know we’re all a little “zoomed out” at the moment, but we promise you a very different and invigorating online experience from your average conference call.

Writing and Speaking

I was delighted to be invited to record yet another podcast this time for Philippa White of The International Exchange or TIE as it’s known. This was a particularly interesting opportunity for me as Philippa and I originally connected way back in about 2003 when she was just starting out on her journey to create an international business volunteering platform.  It’s so impressive to see what she’s achieved, offering opportunities to hundreds of business professionals to develop their leadership skills to the benefit of organisations from around the world.  We talked about some of the parallels between their work and Accenture Development Partnerships and she probed into the journey I shared in my book, battling the “corporate immune system”.

TIE have a new opportunity to help the country of Malawi and their government leaders be the voice for the 2.8 billion people around the world who still don’t have access to cleaner cooking opportunities, at the next UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy in September. This project will take place in June and if you’re interested, sign up here for a briefing call taking place on 6th May. 

I was also delighted to do an interactive session for the Fordham Gabelli School of Business in New York, supporting my friend Katherine Milligan (former Exec Director of Schwab Foundation) who is a Visiting Fellow there.  It was a relatively small and intimate gathering of students from across North America, but I really enjoy these kinds of settings where I feel there is an opportunity to really go deeper on the issues of responsible business with people who will be shaping the business landscape in the coming decades.

Best of the rest……

What else happened during the month of April? Well, one highlight was certainly the 7th Money and Business Partnerships Congress hosted by the great Peter Koenig, the person who I credit as the catalyst for my journey to create the Business Decelerator. This event was scheduled to take place in Alpbach, Austria, however for obvious reasons it went online and I’d say was a model for how online events will work in the future. The sense of community, energy and empathy was phenomenal and the sessions fascinating.  Peter plans to hold a physical event from the 28th November – 1st December 2021, which I’d encourage you to consider.

The event overlapped with the Skoll Virtual World Forum which normally takes place in Oxford each April. They also had some great speakers and so I had to juggle attending both events at the same time – not ideal for someone who preaches the merits of deceleration!

Lastly I just want to congratulate my friend Ravinol Chambers of Be Inspired Films on the launch of his great video The Road to Vrindaven. It’s a fabulous and powerful story of his journey across India in a tuk-tuk, interviewing young girls about their aspirations for a quality education.  I’d highly recommend you take a look and it will change your perspectives on the importance of education for girls not just in India, but around the world.

On the personal front…….

Believe it or not, as I write this Bullog at the beginning of May, I’m looking out on mountains which have just had another snowfall overnight.  I’ll once again be donning my “randonée” skis and walking up the peaks along with Penny the Dog and enjoying some fresh powder.  Despite the lack of ski lifts across most of Europe, I’ve paradoxically found this season the most enjoyable ever, and probably the healthiest for that matter.

On the personal front…….

Believe it or not, as I write this Bullog at the beginning of May, I’m looking out on mountains which have just had another snowfall overnight.  I’ll once again be donning my “randonée” skis and walking up the peaks along with Penny the Dog and enjoying some fresh powder.  Despite the lack of ski lifts across most of Europe, I’ve paradoxically found this season the most enjoyable ever, and probably the healthiest for that matter.

I also took a bit of time out for a 2-day hike with a friend from Rapperswil on Lake Zurich, through Schwyz (where “Schwyxerland” gets its name) and on to Lucern.  It was time to completely unplug and absorb some absolutely stunning views of the mountains and lakes.  The pandemic has certainly taught me that we don’t need to get on a plane to experience beautiful scenery as its often right on our doorstep.

Lastly, the month of April marked the 3-year anniversary of my book, The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a corporate insurgent which came out on 10th April 2018.  Hard to believe how time has flown.  If I’d aspired to be on the NY Times Best-Seller list then I’m afraid I’d be very disappointed.  However, I’ve just hit 80 reviews on Amazon UK alone and another 50 ish on, most of which to my delight are 5 star.  I can assure you I don’t have that many family or even friends, and so people who read it must genuinely enjoy it which is very encouraging.  

OK, that’s more than enough for now folks, until next month,


* The Bullog  = Bulloch + BlogMake sense?  Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.