Nick van Dam: "To be successful and happy, you need a goal"

"Massive occupational burnout of leaders in the VUCA era: is it possible to be successful, live long and be happy at the same time?" This topic was discussed at one of the sessions of the 11th Gaidar Forum by experts, who could share their experience, and those, who wanted to hear answers to the above questions.

VUCA is an acronym for the English words volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. The era of VUCA is the time when it is difficult to predict anything, but at the same time you need to constantly adapt to rapidly changing conditions. How to survive in such a world?

According to modern research, seven out of eight company employees believe that the employer does not care about them, 87 % do not feel happy at work, and 94 % feel constant stress, said Nick van Dam, a member of the IE University Board of Directors. He recommended overcoming these negative factors by creating a comfortable psychological climate in the team and setting goals more clearly. According to van Dam, the survey data indicate that many people feel healthy, prosperous and happy if they have such simple things as healthy food, good sleep, physical activity for at least half an hour a day.

The Chairman of the Board at Soyuzmultfilm animation studio Yuliana Slashcheva noted that not only correctly set goals can prevent occupational burnout, but also an understanding of the meaning of their work and constant interest in it. Therefore, it’s necessary to start educating children even at preschool age, the speaker added, "Later, at school age, this knowledge and skills give a child the opportunity to accomplish, develop and improve. These are the so-called soft skills, which include emotional intelligence, interpersonal communications, control of own attention, and creativity." Slashcheva added that Soyuzmultfilm aims to produce content that will help children develop the skills they need in the modern world.

The First Deputy Director General of Rosatom Kirill Komarov believes that the VUCA era is not related to occupational burnout, "The requirements that we must meet are changing. Earlier, knowledge and experience were important for the leader, but today – adaptability and learning ability, the understanding of a methodology how to get new information or acquire new skills in a short time and with minimal resources. Continuous development will help to prevent a burnout."

The modern service economy requires primarily the development of communication skills, but this does not eliminate the need for fundamental education, emphasized Ekaterina Shulman, associate professor at the Department of Public Administration of the Institute of Social Sciences at the RANEPA. "Educational approaches must be transformed following the greater processes that we are observing. First of all, it is related to the increase in life expectancy. We not only live longer, but work longer. Obviously, the training period is increasing. And these are not three-day workshops or intensive trainings. To become an expert, you need to devote time to the subject, observe the proverbial 10,000-Hour Rule," the expert noted.

According to Shulman, multitasking saves from burnout, a person should not do only one thing. A modern individual should function in various fields and in different roles – leader, subordinate, parent, student. This provides a contact with a diverse reality, which allows everyone to stay in shape.


The 11th Gaidar Forum “Russia and the World: Challenges of the New Decade” is being held at the Presidential Academy on January 15 and 16, 2020. The forum is focused on the goals of national and global development and the search for practical answers to the most pressing challenges of our time. The forum is attended by ministers of the Government of the Russian Federation, members of the Federal Assembly, governors of the Russian regions, prominent international experts, and representatives of foreign states.

The organizers of the 11th Gaidar Forum are the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy, and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia.

The title partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom PJSC and Gazprombank JSC. The strategic partners are Coca-Cola, Mastercard, Russian Railways, Pharmstandard group of companies, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Novartis group of companies, MSD, AKIG group of companies, EF Education First. Partners are Prosveshchenie group of companies, EY, Huawei, RVC JSC, Russian Agricultural Bank JSC.

The title information partners of the Gaidar Forum are the Russia-24 TV channel, TASS, RBC, Business FM. The strategic information partners are Kommersant Publishing House, Interfax, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Invest Foresight magazine, Federal Press Agency. The main information partners are Anews.com, Gazeta.Ru, Lenta.Ru, News.ru, Profile. International partners are RT, ThomsonReuters, Sputnik, EFE, Cision, Pan Pacific Agency. Information partners are Snob media project, AEI PRIME, RNS, Expert magazine, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, Polit.ru, Ekho Moskvy radio station, PRO Business TV channel, FINAM.RU information and analytical agency, Davydov.Index, Strategiya magazine, Ekonomika i Zhizn newspaper, Econs portal, Gosudarstvennaya Sluzhba magazine, TV BRICS.