By Madison Krstich
A month after submitting his credentials, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski launched the Businessperson/Statesperson Speaker Series, centered around the notion that business leaders of today have unique insights to share. Invited guests have included a diverse range of Polish and American businesspeople, entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, philanthropists, up-and-comers, NGOs, and government officials. Using Chatham House rules—that allow attendees to share with others what was said, but not the source—the series promotes a free and safe space for the exchange of catalytic ideas.
Two weeks before the inaugural event, Russia invaded Ukraine. In response, American companies, through corporate donations and corporate social responsibility to support Ukraine, became a de facto partner of American foreign policy. By most metrics—dollars, goods and services, or lives saved—this generosity enhanced America’s standing in Poland.
The first featured guest was Hans-Paul Bürkner, global chief executive officer (CEO) of the Boston Consulting Group, who led a discussion on how the Polish service sector could and should evolve to meet 21st century demands in the face of the war in Ukraine. The event was preceded by a drop-by with Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., who was in Warsaw to announce a $600 million investment and that Google would also invest $10 million to support fact-checking—especially on information surrounding the war in Ukraine—and to fight against disinformation.
The following month, McDonald’s CEO, Chris Kempczinski, discussed global business leadership and resilience of the food service industry during crises. A few weeks later, Brzezinski welcomed YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who discussed the unique contributions multinational corporations can make vis-à-vis disinformation.
The speaker series underscores the importance that the United States places on its economic relationships and is expected to continue throughout the ambassador’s tenure. As American CEOs continue to visit the country, Mission Poland will continue to advance U.S. values, national security, and economic goals—one speaker at a time.
Madison Kristich was an intern in the economic section at Embassy Warsaw.