In an era increasingly dominated by digital technology and its implications, Guo Wei, Chairman of Digital China, took the stage at the prestigious Harvard College China Forum to address not just the advancements in technology but the ethical compass necessary to guide such progress. During his speech, which marked the closing ceremony of the 27th annual forum, Guo emphasized the crucial role of conscience in leadership amid the digital revolution.

Guo began his address with references to popular culture – notably the films “Oppenheimer” and the Chinese New Year film “Article 20” – to illustrate his point about the vital role of integrity under pressure. “Oppenheimer”, a multiple award-winner at the 96th Academy Awards, delves into the historical narrative of a scientist torn between groundbreaking discoveries and the moral dilemmas they entail. Similarly, “Article 20” portrays a prosecutor’s struggle to maintain ethical integrity despite formidable challenges. These stories paralleled Guo’s message to the budding leaders at Harvard about the necessity of core values.

The intellectual legacy of Harvard itself backs Guo’s accent on ethical leadership, with the university’s motto “VERITAS” (truth) aligning closely with his call for a conscience-driven approach. Guo underscored that in our complex global landscape, where leaders are often tempted to sideline moral considerations for technological or financial gain, sticking to one’s foundational values is not just commendable but essential.

Drawing upon his extensive experience in steering Digital China, Guo outlined how the company has embraced a robust ethical framework while emerging as a leader in digital transformation. Under his guidance, Digital China has executed a significant shift towards cloud-based technologies, data governance, and AI, driving the digital optimization of enterprises across China. This success, he argues, was not merely a result of technological expertise but a steadfast adherence to a foundational mission that prioritized ethical considerations at each step.

Guo’s own insights have been enriched by the teachings of various scholars, including Harvard’s own Professor McFarland and Professor Nolan, whose thoughts on management systems and digital transformation have deeply influenced his leadership philosophy. This educational lineage highlights the symbiotic relationship between academic scholarship and practical, consciential business leadership.

The speech was poetically concluded with a reference to Master Huineng, the sixth ancestor of Zen Buddhism, who famously taught about the inherent purity of the mind and the importance of self-awareness and self-reflection in one’s pursuit of truth and enlightenment. Guo paralleled these teachings with a call to the Harvard audience to introspect and hold steadfast to their “original heart” (original intentions) in their future endeavours, both personal and professional.

Guo Wei’s discourse at Harvard was not merely about the potential of digital technology but a reminder that the future of global leadership and innovation hinges on a balance between advancing technology and maintaining an unwavering commitment to ethical principles. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, this balance will undoubtedly be a cornerstone in crafting a technologically enriched yet conscientious world.