Sandra Navidi: «Super-Hubs Have a Big Ego and Strive for Power»

Sandra Navidi

Sandra Navidi

In her new book finance expert Sandra Navidi describes and outlines the world of super-hubs, the network of the most powerful people in the world of finance.

Mrs. Navidi, it's the week of the WEF in Davos. One of the most important meetings of the super-hubs, the global financial elite you describe in your new book. Do these meetings affect the economy and society?

In the medium term yes. WEF has no public mandate, can therefore not take or put into practice any decision that would be immediately binding. But, new contacts are being made, business opportunities evaluated and sometimes concluded. WEF is a huge think tank. Through the participation of countless masterminds and super-hubs it affects the zeitgeist and channels trends.

The concentration of business people in one place – no wonder that conspiracy theory mushrooms. With no reason at all?

There is no single place of decision-making, controlling what happens in the world. The WEF is utterly transparent and the people who talk with each other could do so in any other place as well. A cooperation with negative effects on the public normally takes place in public.

Still: You describe an extreme concentration of power – very few people in the same network can make decisions about everything. How dangerous is that?

The environment becomes homogeneous because decision-makers tend to have a similar type of persona around them. They think in similar ways, have access to similar information and make similar decisions. They perpetuate the system to their advantage.

«Decision-makers have a tendency to deactivate control and correction mechanisms»

The homogeneity also increases the danger of contagion. Decision-makers have a tendency to deactivate control and correction mechanisms, which normally ensure that a system can't get into trouble or corrects itself. The financial crisis and the increasing wealth disparity are good examples for destabilizing systems whose control mechanisms have stopped functioning properly.

Based on your research and personal experience, who would you say is currently the super-super-hub, most important and most powerful person in the financial community?

There is no single person. Each super-hub – be it a finance minister, central banker, fund manager – has an extremely strong influence on the system. Together, in a network, they are unbeatable.

Do you count Swiss bankers to this network of super-hubs?

Yes, the chief executives of UBS and Credit Suisse, Sergio Ermotti and Tidjane Thiam. But also Thomas Jordan, the president of the Swiss National Bank.

You personally know a large number of the people described in you book. How is it to be a woman in this testosterone-driven world?

There are advantages and there are disadvantages. You receive much more attention and probably it is easier to get a foot in the door. On the other side, you have to fight double and triple as hard to be taken seriously.

«Frequently, their personality deviates from the norm, for instance in their almost obsessive pursuit of their goals»

A lot of men still have a perception prejudiced by their understanding of the gender roles – mostly inadvertently and even if they rationally speaking accept the qualifications of their female opposites.

Who impressed you the most?

Christine Lagarde (the director of the International Monetary Fund, ed.) is a very strong person. Georg Soros (the hedge-fund manager) is enormously versatile. But here too, to me it is less the person that impressed me the most, but individual characteristics that they have.

For instance?

Christine Lagarde is always and under all circumstances nice and courteous, no matter how big the stress or jet lag. Jamie Dimon (chairman and chief executive J.P. Morgan) impressed through his authenticity. He's the opposite of slick. Steve Schwarzman (chairman and chief executive of Blackstone) is highly socially competent. He has an ability to engage with his counterpart and demonstrates an ability to build bridges with the help of humor, across cultural divides.In principal, most super-hubs impressed me with their discipline, eagerness to learn and how down to earth they are.

Wealth and contacts evidently seem to be outstanding characteristics of super-hubs. What else?

Super-hubs have a big ego and strive for power. Their emotional intelligence and ability to overcome defeat are strongly developed. Frequently, their personality deviates from the norm, for instance in their almost obsessive pursuit of their goals.

Big success comes at a price. How high is the price paid by super-hubs?

Normal people would judge the price as too high. Super-hubs clearly have a higher threshold for pain. They don't distinguish between private life and work.

«Super-hubs invest time of their live in social capital»

They have to be available at all times, live a life under the public scrutiny and have incessant pressure. You can never show signs of weakness and family life has to play the second fiddle and suffers as a consequence.

A lot of the people you described emerged from simple backgrounds and worked their way up. Can you tell us how to become a super-hub?

Intelligence, first-class education and diligence helps. You also need a holistic networking mentality, based on an interest in other people and a positive view about human beings. Super-hubs invest a great deal of their time in social capital, the network currency. If and when they need help, they can rely on the relations they have cultivated. Super-hubs tend to impress intellectually. Having a lot of money may guarantee a certain reputation, but the prestige of super-hubs relies on content and substance.

Super HubsSandra Navidi is founder and CEO of Beyond Global consultancy. The lawyer previously worked as research director for Nouriel Roubini. Her book «Super-hubs – Wie die Finanzelite and ihre Netzwerke die Welt regieren» is being published today. Sandra Navidi lives in New York.

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