Venice, the city of bridges: we couldn’t have chosen a better place in which to stage The Performance Theatre 2010. For one, our theme was ‘Bridges to tomorrow’s growth’. From the Ponti di Rialto to the Ponti di Sospire, the bridges that populate Venice’s beautiful and bizarre landscape provided a fitting background for our discussions. We asked ourselves: what are the ‘bridges’ we need to cross to find new ways of growing? How can we create a new kind of economic growth, capable of delivering long-term value to both shareholders and society as a whole?

Who was there?

As always, the cast of participants defied easy description. Alongside an impressive line-up of influential senior executives from the telecommunications, marketing, power generation, steel, financial services, shipping and retail industries, our guests included a Buddhist scholar, a Facebook campaigner par excellence, a Shakespeare-savvy neuroscientist, a cybercrime expert-cum-budding artist, the former deputy mayor of the world’s 24th largest city and a string of academics on the leading edge of a raft of disciplines.

The Inspired Leadership Award

The 2010 winner of the Inspired Leadership Award was Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. He accepted the award at an Eni-hosted gala dinner at Ca’Rezzonico, a gorgeous palazzo on the Grand Canal. After being presented with the award, Mr Polman said: “Thank you for the enormous recognition you gave to all the employees of Unilever for their work to move us to a fully sustainable business model. We are well on our way and in doing so hopefully give many others the confidence to follow.”