The Change Challenge:

Fast 4.0-ward to a Secure Future


Mercer uncovered the financial disruption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the workforce of the future—where living and working longer collides with greater workplace flexibility and uncertainty - at our Change Challenge breakfast event at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on January 23.

Economists call it a mystery — a puzzle for our time. Why do wages in most developed countries remain stagnant while companies report record profits, unemployment levels drop and global growth continues? Does it contradict the expectation that by 2030, middle-class spending will increase by US$29 trillion to US$64 trillion annually? And can today’s workforce count on financial security for tomorrow?

In this session, leaders assessed the changes in how we live and work. From job-changing robotics and AI to a growing reliance on contract workers, all while we’re living and working longer, we face a new economic reality of innovation and business strategy — what the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In Davos we explored how this 4.0 revolution in how we work, save and spend is at odds with our traditional income, savings and retirement systems.



Live Content

Watch the session video and executive conversations to hear first-hand the insights and themes that emerged from our session.


2019 World Economic Forum—Daily Mercer Dispatch

Organizations are realizing that they must think expansively about Industry 4.0 and how we can build and lead a workforce that will work differently, longer and with complex needs.

Personal Reflections from Davos

It is my second time in Davos, this time seeing the event through the lens of my new role as CEO of the Asian regional business for Mercer. 

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

In early 2019 leaders of business and government will meet to address the challenges presented by technology and changing workforce dynamics and what this industry - Industry 4.0 - means for the future of work.

Davos 2019: A Workforce Transformed-Not Displaced

Business and government leaders gather next week in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, and each year the stakes get higher.


Julio Portalatin


Julio A. Portalatin is President and Chief Executive Officer of Mercer, a leading global consulting firm that delivers advice and technology-driven solutions to help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. He leads more than 23,000 employees who support clients in over 140 countries. Under his leadership, Mercer has demonstrated growth through expansion into emerging markets and transformative acquisitions and partnerships; has grown assets under delegated management to over $240 billion; and continues to lead in creating regionally powerful health services and driving unique people + digital solutions focused on preparing companies for the future of work.

As a thought leader and speaker on the changing workforce, Julio has contributed to the dialogue on the future of work, human capital, global economic trends, healthcare, financial wellness, pension systems and diversity. Before joining Mercer in 2012, Julio spent over 30 years at Allstate Insurance Company and AIG. Since 2017, Julio has been on the Board of DXC Technologies, a leading global technology company. He has been a steward of the World Economic Forum and actively supports several nonprofit organizations; he currently sits on the Board of Covenant House International, which works with homeless youth. Julio received a Bachelor of Science degree in business management and an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University, and is a member of its Board of Trustees.

Renée McGowan

CEO Asia

Based in Hong Kong, Renée is Chief Executive Officer, Asia of Mercer, a leading global consulting firm advising organizations on the Health, Wealth, and Career needs of a dynamic workforce. Mercer has over 23,000 colleagues supporting clients in over 130 countries, including the fast-growing and changing Asia region. Through 17 years at Mercer, Renée has held various senior positions most directly focused on the changing global landscape of retirement savings, pension systems, and investments. Renée is a passionate advocate for improving the financial inclusion and security of individuals, and for helping organizations and individuals navigate the changing nature of work, career, and retirement. Before joining Mercer, Renée worked with a small number of consulting firms, located in Singapore and London. With Mercer, Renée has led businesses in London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, and now Hong Kong. Renée also leads Mercer’s partnership with the World Economic Forum on the Retirement and Investment Systems Reform Project. She is a regular presenter at global symposiums and events and contributor to international media, inlcluding WEF, BRINK, NY Times, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, and Asset TV.

Daniel Shakhani

Salary Finance

Daniel Shakhani is an entrepreneur working at the intersection of social impact, financial technology (FinTech) and employee benefits. Daniel is the founder of Salary Finance, alongside Dan Cobley, former head of Google UK, and Asesh Sarkar, a former banking consultant. Salary Finance is a breakthrough platform focused on improving the financial health of employees in the UK and US.


Salary Finance helps employees move from debt to savings through innovative salary-linked products. These include savings products linked directly to payroll — to help employees automatically build up savings during each pay period — and low interest salary-linked loans — to replace the high-cost debts employees have, saving them money in interest and helping them pay off debt sooner.


Daniel was inspired to create the platform after seeing how a lack of access to affordable financial services was causing Asesh’s nanny to struggle with debt repayment. He initially helped her by giving her a loan that she repaid monthly from her salary, before scaling the model globally. Salary Finance was recognized as the 2018 socially responsible business of the year by BITC (Business in the Community — The Prince’s Responsible Business Network). It has received 37 awards globally and was featured on the Forbes list of socially responsible British startups.


A keen supporter of social entrepreneurship, Daniel co-founded the FT Philanthropy; Global Impact Summit.

Leena Nair


Leena Nair is the first female, first Asian and youngest ever CHRO of Unilever and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive (ULE), which is responsible for delivering Unilever’s business and financial performance.


She bears overall responsibility for the human capital of Unilever, which operates across multiple regulatory and labor environments spread over 190 countries. Leena ensures the company has the right people in the right roles, with the right capabilities and mindset to deliver high performance that enables Unilever to meet its ambitious business growth objectives with positive environmental and social impact. She also heads the Diversity and Inclusion agenda for the organization, ensuring that its workforce is truly diverse and inclusive.


In 2007, Leena became the first woman on Hindustan Unilever’s Management Committee. A year later, she was the first woman appointed to the Unilever South Asia Leadership Team, responsible for Unilever's growth in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Leena was Senior Vice President – Leadership & Organization Development and Global Head of Diversity in 2013, before being appointed as CHRO in March 2016. Leena has been recognized as one of the 25 most powerful women in business by Business Today for seven consecutive years.

Phillip Ullmann

Chief Energiser
Cordant Group

Phillip Ullmann is the Chief Energiser of Cordant Group, the UK’s second-largest recruitment and services firm, with revenues of £870 million and 125,000 employees.


Phillip has been responsible for driving the business forward since joining in 1996. This has been achieved through a series of acquisitions and organic growth, but also by hiring highly talented people in key roles. As the original architect of the Social Enterprise at Cordant, Phillip has helped create and develop a vision that is now owned just as much by the board and the senior management.


Phillip holds an engineering degree from Cambridge University, an MBA from Brunel and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He is married to Deborah and has four children and two grandchildren. He began his career at KPMG and Sainsbury’s, and is a keen Arsenal Football Club supporter.

James Landale

Diplomatic Correspondent
BBC News

James Landale is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and author. For more than two decades James has reported on British politics and world affairs, covering five general elections and interviewing every prime minister since John Major. James is currently Diplomatic Correspondent for BBC News where he is in the thick of the corporation’s coverage of Brexit, the Trump presidency and other global issues.


James has a wealth of experience in British politics having spent 10 years working as a reporter for The Times newspaper, including working as Assistant Foreign Editor in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After joining the BBC in 2003, he became the Chief Political Correspondent for the BBC News channel, leading its 24-hour political news coverage from Westminster. James has also presented a variety of programs on television and radio including the “Andrew Marr Show” on BBC1, “The Daily Politics” on BBC2, and the “World at One” and “Westminster Hour” on BBC Radio 4.


In 2017, James was nominated for a Royal Television Society “Scoop of the Year” award. In December 2015, James was also named Broadcaster of the Year by the Political Studies Association. James has written two books: Landale's Cautionary Tales: Comic Verse for the 21st Century and Duel ─ A True Story of Death and Honour.


James was born in Worcestershire and educated at Eton. At Bristol University, in addition to securing a first class bachelor’s degree in politics and a master’s degree in international relations, he began exploring journalism by becoming the founding editor of the University's student newspaper Epigram. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bristol University.

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About Mercer


At Mercer, we make a difference in the lives of more than 115 million people every day by advancing their health, wealth and careers. We’re in the business of creating more secure and rewarding futures for our clients and their employees — whether we’re designing affordable health plans, assuring income for retirement or aligning workers with workforce needs. Using analysis and insights as catalysts for change, we anticipate and understand the individual impact of business decisions, now and in the future. We see people’s current and future needs through a lens of innovation, and our holistic view, specialized expertise, and deep analytical rigor underpin each and every idea and solution we offer. For more than 80 years, we’ve turned our insights into actions, enabling people around the globe to live, work and retire well. At Mercer, we say we Make Tomorrow, Today.