Leeor Groen is a Principal at BV Ventures, a Swiss venture capital firm investing into and supporting blockchain-enabled businesses, and a Founding Board Member of the World Innovations Forum Foundation, an independent NGO dedicated to enabling prosperity for all nations through innovation and entrepreneurship. A BCom graduate, he actively contributes to the public discussion on technology, society, finance and the environment and is a member of the World Economic Forums Global Shapers community. Now based between Zurich and Singapore, Leeor has lived and worked professionally in the UK, Norway, Switzerland and Singapore since graduating from the University of Melbourne in 2013.
Tell us a little bit about your studies at the University of Melbourne? What did you major in, were there any student societies you were a member of?
I admittedly had a rather non-conventional student experience where I was balancing full-time work at KPMG with classes from day one. Moving down from Brisbane I nevertheless had the privilege of the collegiate environment as a Newman College resident. The Melbourne Model let me pursue my interests in public policy alongside the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) and I participated in Model UN’s around Australia with the Melbourne International Relations Society. My main engagement ultimately was with the International Case Competitions group representing the University overseas, and eventually organising the first FBE and FMAA Case Competition which I’m glad to see is still running annually!
You’ve previously written about the role of innovation on Australia’s climate policy, do you think there needs to be a change in the relationship between government and industry in this field?
Leaders in Australia focus too much on tweaking policies, and not enough on changing mindsets. Only through collaboration with the private sector and civic organisations can the level of required progress actually be achieved. The government’s role is to facilitate this process and ensure everyone’s interests are aligned. If we continue to treat climate change as a cost that must be borne, we will never be able to realize the opportunities that come from change. This comes down to mindset and recognition of the fact that all stakeholders have to work together.
Do you think the business sector has an important role to play in tackling issues such as climate change?
The reality is, there is no one better positioned to take advantage of the emerging opportunities in transitioning to a more sustainable society than the capital rich incumbents in Australia’s resource industry. Any structural response to the climate challenge therefore needs to be proactive, opportunistic and within the perspective of macro developments around the world. Norway is both one of the world’s largest oil exporters and most sustainable countries generating over 95% of its electricity from renewable sources. There is no reason why Australia shouldn’t be able to replicate this model over time, and it is our business leaders who are best positioned to drive this.
We hear terms like ‘disruptor’ and ‘innovation’ a lot when speaking about business at present, do you have any advice for recent grads who are entering the workforce and might be thinking about being future innovators or disruptors?
With the technology available to us today, there has never been a more exciting time to experiment and shape the way things are done. The only advice I can offer is to always trust your instincts and let your curiosity drive you; that means getting comfortable with not having all the answers and figuring things out along the way. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.
You consider yourself to be an ‘impact driven global citizen’, how do you think working overseas and travelling extensively has changed your mindset?
After nearly seven years of living in Europe and now spending most of my time in South-East Asia, I have certainly come to appreciate the interconnected nature of the world and the significance this has on business and society. Even if we happen to live on our own island with just 25 million people, we have to be mindful of what is happening around us and consider the big picture. The need to think global and act local is one of the main reasons I chose to get involved with the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community.
You’ve returned to post-graduate study internationally, earning two master’s degrees. Do you think continual institutional study is important for people in the workforce?
Education is one of the greatest privileges and I’ve certainly been able to appreciate the value of exposing myself to new environments, particularly internationally, and learning new things. When looking to work with new people at BV Ventures, we always search for people who have had diverse experiences and navigated their way through unfamiliar circumstances; Institutional study is certainly a great way to do that.
What kind of challenges do you think workers and businesses will face over the next 10-20 years? Any advice?
The rate and pace of change in the world today is unprecedented. The key to responding to that is being able to manage ambiguity and navigate uncertainty as things evolve in unpredictable ways. I encourage people to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things; At the very least you will end up with an experience where something didn’t work out, which can often be an equally valuable life experience as having succeeded in the first place.