One of the plenary sessions of the World Economic Forum Special Meeting in Riyadh, April 2024
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One of the plenary sessions of the World Economic Forum Special Meeting in Riyadh, April 2024

Protocol training for a brighter future

In early January while the war in Ukraine was still raging on, we at Protocol International had the privilege of providing training to the Central Tibetan Administration in northern India. While their stories of struggle and strife to keep their language and culture alive was still fresh in my heart, the conflict in Gaza was still raging on as well, and I started to wonder where would it all end. It seems like it is each person for themselves. I think it should all start in the small gestures of common courtesy toward each other, which then builds on a sense of community and people looking out for each other. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my colleagues say, “Oh, they need a protocol lesson”.  

Fortunately for me, I was given the privilege of serving the World Economic Forum’s Open Forum protocol requirements in Riyadh a couple of weeks ago, and was witness to leaders’ active engagement and strategic plans for bringing people together and looking for human centric solutions in this digital age. I now have a new perspective on the future! With such topics as: “Digital Currencies in the Middle East”, “Meet the 21st Century Entrepreneurs”, “How is Culture Reshaping Diplomacy”, “Cracking the Code to Smart Cities”, “Saudi’s Sustainability Agenda”, and “Action for Mental Health”, I discovered a place where leaders and communities are working on solutions to bring people together in a brighter and cleaner future, where technology is serving us, instead of us serving technology. With the right approach, the acceleration of this 4th Industrial Revolution may be the door opening after the window closed on Covid.

I understand lots of innovation is coming from smaller players. In the lessons we provide on “Entrepreneurship” at Protocol International, we often compare the business world being as dangerous as a war zone. I was therefore not surprised to hear the same terminology one may use in addressing coalition military forces being used when describing business. Words like “interoperability” are clear signs we are stronger when we unite and join forces. Collaboration, human skills and team work for success. There was encouragement toward soft skills to manage the transformation to a digital economy and to strengthen connectivity. The awareness of businesses’ needs to focus on human skills to grow was encouraging. Protocol is about setting parameters of respect for business and diplomacy to succeed – it is the foundation of life, not just business. The best way to grow companies is to build our skills on how we connect with one another.  

Up until now, our education system has been knowledge-based. However, since AI can now do things faster and more accurately than we can, this has to change. The key to surviving this new industrial revolution, is leading it. That requires two key elements of agile businesses:

(1)  awareness of disruptive technology, and

(2)  a plan to develop talent that can make the most of it: be so adept at human skills that technology cannot compete, then embrace technology, and apply your human skills to ensure technology is working for you.  

This is where protocol and soft skills come in, and it appears big corporations are aware of this. Discussions on the panels highlighted how nobody succeeds alone, how important it was to listen to customers, backers, employees and look for as much collaboration as you can. Multinationals are looking for people who are curious, who ask “why” and have compassion for humanity. I witnessed a need for people to be seen for who they are, a need to allow people in, to experience the real person. The Saudi Ambassador to the United States of America spoke eloquently about how the holistic view of culture is more than arts and crafts, but a process of dialogue, partnerships and collaboration, understanding common ground while respecting differences. There is usually more that unites us, than separates us.

Protocol International recently provided training to 5th year International Relations students at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, as well. The university is aware that education needs to go beyond text book academic information and to focus on the practical skills of life that protocol training offers in order to be truly successful. Protocol is not just training for diplomats; it is certainly training for the corporate world, the military and training for life!

Looking for advice or training support for your next important event? Contact us for a professional consultation session.

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