Klaus Schwab Stepping Down from Executive Role at World Economic Forum

Klaus Schwab Stepping Down from Executive Role at World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum founder and Chairman Klaus Schwab is reportedly stepping down from his executive role at the multi-national organization he founded more than 50 years ago. Schwab, 86, will now transition into a non-executive position within the WEF.

First reported by Semafor.com on Tuesday, Schwab announced his impending departure to WEF staff via an internal email. The German engineer added that his role change is still pending approval from the Swiss government, but it should be finalized before next year’s summit in the alpine city of Davos.

Schwab has not named a successor to take his place at the helm of the organization he founded in 1971, but he has previously made statements praising the leadership of Board President Børge Brende, a former conservative politician from Norway. Schwab’s wife and children also hold high-ranking positions within the WEF.

In the early mid-1960s, Schwab, who had already earned doctorates in engineering and economics by the age of 32, attended Harvard’s schools of business and government, where he was inspired by American management methods. During that time, he was also introduced to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, with whom he formed a longtime friendship.

Through Kissinger, Schwab gained access to a “round table” of influential figures in government, defense, and business. These connections allowed him to eventually conceive of a multi-national organization intended to guide world policies. The first “European Management Symposium,” which would later become the WEF, was held in February 1971. More than 440 influential business leaders attended the event, each paying a substantial fee to participate.

Through the WEF, Schwab has advanced the ideas of “stakeholder capitalism” and “global corporate citizenship,” and the group’s members now include heads of state, business and tech entrepreneurs, scientists, activists, and government officials from dozens of nations. In 2023, the WEF brought in nearly $500 million in revenue and has 200 million Swiss francs in cash on-hand.

It is not clear what degree of influence Schwab will continue to wield over the day-to-day operations of the WEF in his new non-executive role.