Pearls of Wisdom

Q1 | March 2018

stack of old newspapers, pile of old newspapers

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Devin Crago, CFA

March 21, 2018

Image used with permission: iStock/hanohiki


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Pearls of Wisdom

Q1 | March 2018

Reading is one of the principal occupations in our profession. As we digest a wide range of material, interesting ideas and surprising facts – some serious and some light-hearted – rise to the surface. We attempt to share a few of those with you in each of our issues of Nexus Notes.

Water scarcity

In the past few years, several incidents of severe water shortages have made the headlines. Most recently, Cape Town’s water resources have come under stress. Since February 1st, residents of that city have been limited to 50 litres per day.  More restrictions for Cape Town are on the way sometime in late spring on what’s known as “Day Zero” when the water supply is expected to be cut off to most homes. At that point, the city’s 430,000 residents will be required to collect rationed water from 200 public distribution points. Another example is found in the densely populated state of Gujarat, India which is home to 60 million people. There, the state recently announced a clampdown on water use for irrigation and industries. What’s more, expectations are that the Gujarat government will follow in Cape Town’s footsteps and consider rationing drinking water supplies to local cities. According to investment firm Raymond James, the challenge of global water scarcity is increasing in part due to growing populations, emerging markets urbanization, and climate change. Sadly, high-profile examples like those of Cape Town and Gujarat are likely to remain in the headlines. According to the World Health Organization, about half of the world’s population will be living in areas defined as “water-stressed” by 2025. While the challenges are all too apparent, there may be investment opportunities as well for companies that are able to deliver solutions like desalination plants and improved water management infrastructure. (Raymond James, February 20, 2018)

Disruptive Innovations

At the same time the Nexus team was delivering our November presentation on the “Age of Disruption”, a research team at Citigroup published an interesting report on what they see as the top ten disruptions of our time. Given our focus on changes in the transportation industry, we were intrigued by what Citi had to say on the subject. Here’s the summary: “In transportation, robotic piloting in commercial jets could mean that your flight is unmanned and that the days of your plane being delayed because the pilot is stuck in traffic on the way to the airport are long gone. Or maybe you don’t want to take that short-haul flight at all, and instead could jump into a Hyperloop pod that shoots you 700mph in a vacuum tube to your destination. Artificial intelligence-piloted planes and Hyperloop systems could be the driver of new transportation modes.” For those curious readers looking for more, we recommend their full report which you can find here(Citigroup, November 2, 2017)

How to be a CEO

Adam Bryant, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote his final Corner Office column in the fall of 2017. After a decade of interviewing CEOs about life in the corner office, he had amassed a treasure-trove of five million words from which to draw out some lessons learned. While the final column is worth a full read (and, arguably, so too are all of his columns) we will simply point out the three recurring themes he noted about what makes a successful CEO First, he notes that they display “applied curiosity”, which means they tend to question everything and be ceaselessly curious about how people work, how things work, and how to make things work better. Second, “CEOs seem to love a challenge” and embrace operating outside of their comfort zone. Third, they managed their own careers by focusing on “doing their current job well”, a strategy which earned them promotions over time. For those readers who have young family members with ambitions for the corner office, the full article can be found here(The New York Times, October 27, 2017)

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