In November, it was 10 years ago exactly that I joined fDi Magazine as editor – a decade that flew by in a blur, as I flew in a blur of jetlag, all over the world, and around again, to find out about who is investing where and why. It amounts to about 60 issues of fDi Magazine, tours of more plants and laboratories than I would wish on anyone, and quite possibly thousands of people interviewed.
In light of the anniversary, there are three questions that people have asked me repeatedly recently: what have been the most interesting stories written, favourite places visited and the most entertaining people interviewed. The first two are relatively easy. By a long shot, covering the so-called economic counter-terrorism efforts in Al Anbar province of Iraq some years ago – the race to see if economic development and job creation could outpace terrorist recruitment efforts – was the most compelling and exciting. Tragically, those efforts have failed, although not for lack of trying by some courageous officials there.
Listing favourite places can become quite a lengthy parlour game. The list is long as so many places in the world are interesting for so many different reasons; it is not difficult to rattle them off, in no particular order.
But what has struck me when faced with the question is how tongue-tied I have become when asked to name the fascinating politicians that were interviewed. After stuttering and stammering, I have not been able to point to anyone in particular who told me anything truly revolutionary. That is not to say that they have not revealed important, interesting or even entertaining things. But I can only conclude from it that a) politicians have to be so cautious that it is difficult to speak or even think outside the box and b) it is even more difficult for them to say novel things about FDI because international competition is such that so many cities and countries have the same ambitions, and because there is general agreement on what needs to be done, and said, to attract investment.
But politicians, don’t despair: I would take the latter part as a positive, in that it means the majority of political leaders grasp both the importance of FDI and know how to talk the talk. Getting the message, and preaching the message, is half the battle.
Interestingly, I don’t struggle at all to name my favourite interview of a business leader: it was the Italian CEO of a company in Tuscany that produces machines for making paper tissues. His enthusiasm for what is on the face of it an unglamorous business, his revelations about consumer trends that affect toilet paper demand (don’t ask), and his belief in his company were very engaging, and the company, upon inspection, had a good FDI story. But this does leave me wondering whether I should change jobs and focus more on the sanitary sector, or whether that guy should run for office.
Courtney Fingar is the editor-in-chief of fDi Magazine. Email: email@example.com