Life is better with tough conversations

21 Jan 2019 · 5 min read
I love it when real life mimics art. Where else do you find yourself talking to world leaders, journalists, captains of industry, where so many disparate views can be found in the same place?
Marian Salzman, SVP Global Communications, Philip Morris International

Written by

Marian Salzman, Senior Vice President Global Communications, PMI*

Marian Salzman on the Communication Panel during Davos 2019

It is like that bar scene in the first ever Star Wars (Episode IV for any millennials or Gen Z-ers here). Remember when Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet the pilot Han Solo? The bar’s where the rulers and ruled both gather to drink under one roof. Likewise Davos is “where the regulated and their regulators, rivals and hangers-on [can] be found drinking together,” as the Times recently observed.

Davos is indeed a place where opposite sides of the argument find themselves together, on the same panels and in the same events, and can sit down and talk.

Maybe our society needs more of these opportunities, where the ‘regulated and their regulators’ can talk openly, without rancour, and share ideas.

We’re not part of the World Economic Forum annual gathering but we’re in Davos, having conversations at events, on the sidelines and at the after-parties. And those conversations are proving incredibly valuable.

It's time to rethink PMI


Marian Salzman video thumbnail

The environment here is very generous in spirit and dialogue. There are people with very different points of view but they’re open to discussion.

We came here to re-engage with civil society, openly, and that’s what we’re doing. Sure, there are some naysayers about who don’t want to talk to us – and that’s sad because it’s bad for them too. But for the most part people are like, ‘you’re not the good guys, but we’re willing to hear you out on what’s better’.

Life is better with tough conversations. That means dialogues not monologues. And it means creating more opportunities for all sides of the argument to come together, and yes, even eating and drinking together, to share solutions to the issues we face.


* On January 1, 2024, Marian Salzman was appointed Senior Vice President & Chief Corporate Citizenship Officer.

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