October 10–11, 2016  •  San Francisco, CA
James Manyika

James Manyika
Director, McKinsey Global Institute and Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company


James Manyika is one of the smartest and most knowledgeable people about the shape of the world economy. Lots of us can think big thoughts about where things are going. James has his finger on the pulse of the economy around the world and brings a unique perspective about the forces that will shape the future. I come away smarter from every conversation I have with him.

— Tim O’Reilly

Quotes from James

Britain took 154 years to double economic output per person, and it did so with a population (at the start) of nine million people. The United States achieved the same feat in 53 years, with a population (at the start) of ten million people. China and India have done it in only 12 and 16 years, respectively, each with about 100 times as many people. In other words, this economic acceleration is roughly 10 times faster than the one triggered by Britain’s Industrial Revolution and is 300 times the scale.

If much of the intuition you have built up over your life is wrong—or, at least, seriously questionable—how should you go about managing your investments, your career, and your business?

A key to survival is to embed curiosity and learning in an organization.

The twenty-first century corporation does not function like a nineteenth-century military unit. Rather, people tend to respond to the actions and inspiration of peers, competitors, and colleagues. We rethink what is possible and desirable based more on what we see and less on what we are told.

All leaders will have to resist the temptation to focus on the hazards of the period ahead instead of the opportunities it presents. Looking around the world today, there is ample reason for pessimism, especially when it comes to geopolitics. Living through a searing experience like the financial crisis of 2008 or high youth unemployment can leave significant scar tissue. But while pessimists have surely had their share of days in recent years, it’s important to note that the long-term trend of so many indicators points up and to the right. In 1930, as the Great Depression spread around the world, the great British economist John Maynard Keynes boldly predicted that, one hundred years on, progressive countries’ standard of living would be between four and eight times higher than it was at the time. Despite the Great Depression, an enormously destructive world war, and the Cold War, the higher end of his optimistic expectation has turned out to be our reality today.


James Manyika is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute, McKinsey & Company’s business and economics research arm, and one of its three global coleaders. James has led research on business and global economic trends, including the digital economy, globalization, growth and productivity, innovation and competitiveness, and labor markets. James is also a director at McKinsey, where he is one of the leaders of McKinsey’s Global High Tech, Media, and Telecom practice. Based in Silicon Valley for 20 years, he has worked with many of the world’s leading technology companies on a variety of issues. He has published a book on distributed networks and robotics another on globalization, as well as numerous academic and business papers and reports. In 2012, James was appointed by President Obama to serve on of the US President’s Global Development Council and in 2013 to serve as the vice chairman of the council. In 2011, James was appointed by the US secretary of commerce to serve on the Innovation Advisory Board as part of the COMPETES Act.

James serves on the boards of the Aspen Institute, the Oxford Internet Institute, UC Berkeley’s School of Information, Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, including the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, and the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo. James is a nonresident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Bretton Woods Committee. James was on the engineering faculty at Oxford University and a fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University, a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and a faculty exchange fellow at MIT. A Rhodes Scholar, James holds DPhil, MSc, and MA degrees from Oxford in engineering, mathematics, and computer science respectively and a BSc in electrical engineering from the University of Zimbabwe.