Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), who seems fond of the popular book, believes that global resilience, crucial for both business and the public sector amid the pandemic-induced uncertainties, should not be impeded by political division and biases.
"Division and political biases are the biggest roadblock for global resilience, for global corporations. They need to be overcome through specific work of different countries on issues that bring us together", Dmitriev said at a World Economic Forum panel, held virtually.
The executive pointed to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the proliferation of the vaccine against the virus as one of the key areas where the global community should join efforts regardless of the differences some may have.
"When I read Nassim Taleb’s book 'The Black Swan' I really paid attention to it but I did not anticipate that we will have a flock of 'black swans' or you can use even the term 'swarm' of 'black swans' coming after us. They have been swarming around the world in the last 12 months and we expect more 'black swan' swarms to come", Dmitriev said.
Dmitriev linked these events to the singularity occurring due to divisive changes in politics, barriers for international cooperation, and mental changes driven by technology.
“We have lots of singularities happening at the same time and we believe that they accelerate those 'black swan' events. I think how we are prepared for them is a key topic”, Dmitriev said.
During a panel discussion titled "Reassessing corporate risks and reinforcing resilience in a post-COVID world", the RDIF CEO further outlined key lessons learned during the crisis and shared the fund’s experience in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as it backed the development of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus.
"First of all, we really focused on rule number one, which is understanding the problem, the resilience problem we faced early. And then in early January [of 2020] we understood that COVID is very significant and we really focused on this", Dmitriev said at the session.
This early focus allowed the RDIF to concentrate on areas where it could make the biggest difference and finance high-speed coronavirus tests, an anti-COVID drug, and a vaccine as “three core elements of our contribution to fighting COVID”, Dmitriev explained.
This was made possible by picking the right partnerships among top investors and pharmaceutical producers to identify the best products to finance, Dmitriev said.
Another important lesson was the ultimate focus on serving society, something that is crucial for private businesses and the public sector alike, he stressed.
The development of Sputnik V faced a lot of misunderstanding and media attacks from early on, making the development of a clear and direct communications strategy extremely important. Resilience to such attacks is another major takeaway from the pandemic era, Dmitriev said.
“Building direct communication strategy in the world that has attention span close to zero, with new and new cycles changing and people not being able to go at the core of things and really focus on the basics, that’s very important”, he added.
The pandemic experience has also highlighted the importance of seeing the next "black swans" and addressing them together.
The RDIF is leading efforts to promote the Russian Sputnik V vaccine abroad. The latter is the world's first coronavirus vaccine officially registered for emergency use in Russia on 11 August 2020. In December, Russia launched a large-scale coronavirus immunisation effort. The latest interim results from Phase 3 clinical trials established the vaccine's efficacy at 91.4 percent and at 100 percent against severe cases.
Aside from Russia, the vaccine has been approved for use in Argentina, Hungary, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates, and many other countries. Registration applications have been submitted to the European Union and the World Health Organisation.