past event

Socrates New Zealand, Queenstown 2024

Held in partnership with the Aspen Institute New Zealand, the Socrates Seminar will take place in Queenstown from May 5-7, 2024. Socrates international seminars include three seminar sessions, program meals, and local excursions/tours. Seminar tuition is $1,800, which includes lodging, materials, meals, and an excursion in Queenstown. Tuition does not include travel. Please contact if you are interested in participating.

The Future of Business:
How to Create Real Value in a Changing World

In a world where corporate responsibility and sustainability have taken centre stage, business leaders face a critical juncture. The commitment to operate sustainably and ethically is under the microscope but the path to implementation is fraught with challenges, including the ever-changing economic landscape, the urgency of climate change and natural resources at risk, global tensions, and cynicism about business and its ends.

Questions about business and value creation for the public good are growing: In this time of social and industrial transformation, whom does the corporation serve? What is the role of the government in directing business priorities? How does the executive define—and measure— ‘real’ value, i.e. value beyond profits and financial return? What is required of business leaders, advisors to business, and those with the power to regulate, in this moment?

Amid these tensions—and both public critique of business and heightened expectations of employees—the private sector is still trusted to get things done. We cannot make progress on solutions to our most important problems without the remarkable resources, talent and problem-solving skills, global reach and distribution systems that are the hallmark of the modern corporation.

Join us for this exclusive Aspen Socrates Seminar, which will examine the evolving business landscape and the impact, resilience, governance, and decision-making have on business value. With years of branding statements and pledges in place, companies are now confronted with the practical realities of delivering on these commitments while navigating financial constraints and competing priorities. Through readings and discussion, we will address how organisations can bridge the gap between vision and action to create long-term business value.

Participants will explore five key questions:

  • Profits vs. Purpose: Profits are necessary to sustain the corporation, and the financial performance pressures can be unrelenting. How do executives and directors define value, and work to resolve these tensions and trade-offs? What needs to be true to assure the long-term performance of the enterprise—but also secure the public good?
  • Fiduciary duty: In a world with multiple interests and ‘stakeholders’, to whom is the executive responsible?
  • Seizing this moment: Forward-thinking executives and boards see the opportunity for competitive advantage and ROI rooted in products and services designed with sustainability as a first order condition. Can these businesses secure a ‘green premium’?
  • Allies in the long game: Employees are changing the conversation from the inside and NGOs are deploying sophisticated techniques to raise the bar in a company or drive collaboration within or across industries. What is changing in the eco system of business and how do executives clarify who matters most?
  • Personal commitments: What relationships, habits and practices will help next generation leaders stay at the work that lies ahead?

The aim is for participants to emerge from this seminar equipped with strategies to overcome challenges and be inspired to drive positive change within their organization and the broader society, enabling them to create long term value for their business or organization. Upon completion of the seminar participants are presented with a certificate and welcomed into the dynamic group of Aspen NZ alumni and Socrates alumni worldwide.

Moderator: Judy Samuelson is founder and executive director of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program and author of Six New Rules of Business: Creating Real Value in a Changing World (Berrett-Koehler, 2021).

Event information
Sun May 5, 2024 - Tue May 7, 2024
5:00pm - 4:00pm EDT
Millbrook Resort
Queenstown, New Zealand