Antony Jenkins, chief executive officer of Barclays Plc, shared the stage of Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh last night with former President Bill Clinton, musician Joss Stone and model Natalia Vodianova.
They were part of the opening ceremony of the third annual One Young World Summit, a gathering of 1,200 delegates, age 18 to 25, from more than 180 countries, selected for their interest in leading social change.
Jenkins is one of the luminaries serving as a counselor during the summit, which runs through Sunday. He is scheduled to speak Saturday morning about ethical business on a panel with executives from Siemens AG and Shell Oil Co. Other sessions are being held on education, health, and transparency and integrity.
“I’m all about the impact of business and banking in addressing problems,” said Jenkins, Barclays’s CEO since Aug. 30, appointed in the wake of the Libor scandal, in an interview. “You need vibrant banks for vibrant economies.”
Jenkins wore a pink button-down and no tie last night, while food activist and chef Jamie Oliver wore a colorful plaid. They joined about 20 counselors on the stage to observe the proceedings.
Fresh from stumping for President Barack Obama in Ohio, Clinton discussed the Arab Spring. He noted that the U.S. is still working toward equality long after the abolishment of slavery. He recommended reading Max Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation.” He talked about Rwanda becoming less dependent on foreign aid and Costa Rica as a leader in sustainability.
Stone sang, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performed a song by Coldplay and delegates bearing their country’s flag marched down the aisles.
Afterward, the young people headed to the Sixth Street Bridge for a party offering meatballs from local restaurant Donato’s and fireworks.
The counselors headed to dinner in a private room at Heinz Hall, where Bob Geldof chatted with Fatima Bhutto and Jenkins and his wife mingled with the founders of One Young World, David Jones and Kate Robertson, top executives at the global marketing group Havas.
When Jones and Robertson told him about the summit, it very much aligned with his interests, Jenkins said.
“I was intrigued by the opportunities to learn from interesting young leaders,” Jenkins said. “I think there are a lot of challenges in the world, and it’s the responsibility of people in leadership positions to address these problems.”
He noted that Barclays has sponsored about 30 delegates -- a mix of employees and others -- at a cost of $5,200 each.
Some delegates got to the session on their own. At the bridge party, Mzwa Mbedu, 19, of South Africa said he wrote many letters to raise the fee and was lucky that his school, the University of Cape Town, and his province, Kwazulu Natal, had put up most of the money.
Mbedu has started a program at the university that has students using Skype to tutor children in remote, disadvantaged areas.
The power of technology to effect change is prominent on the summit agenda. Google Inc. is offering a workshop on creativity and Jack Dorsey, cofounder of Twitter Inc., and Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable are on the list of counselors.
“We have created an open-source platform for change,” said Jones. He proudly noted that One Young World, which is being registered as a nonprofit in the U.S., has made no investment in organizing participants after summits.
“With the social revolution upon us, we literally have not had to provide that platform,” Jones said. “Social media facilitate this.”
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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