David De Cremer

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Renowned Behavioral Scientist, Digital Transformation Strategist and Leadership Advisor Helping Organizations Balance the Human + AI Equation; Provost Chair and Professor, National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School; Director and Founder, Centre on AI Technology for Humankind; Fellow, Cambridge Judge Business School and St. Edmunds College, Cambridge University; Research Member, The Justice Collaboratory, Yale Law School

Biography

How will AI impact the future of work and business operations around the world, and to what extent will Asian leaders play a role in dictating that future? Moreover, how do we keep jobs human-centered and AI ethical as robots and machines increasingly become co-workers?

These are some of the critical questions renowned leadership advisor, digital transformation strategist and technology futurist David De Cremer (deh-CRAY-mer) addresses when guiding organizations through change in what he calls the “New Tech Era.”

Provost Chair and Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, director and founder of its Centre on AI Technology for Humankind, and a widely respected behavioral scientist, De Cremer helps leaders in every industry make tactical, sustainable, and ethical decisions around integrating new technologies, particularly those that will impact their organization, its employees and the development of products they sell.

In his latest book, “Leadership by Algorithm: Who Leads and Who Follows in the AI Era” (Harriman House, May 2020), De Cremer reveals his futurist side, identifying key areas where algorithms will likely collide with human skills as AI becomes a bigger part of the workforce. The kindle version of the book quickly topped Amazon’s charts, was named among the 15 best leadership books by Wharton School Press, and was recognized by The World Economic Forum. De Cremer is also the bestselling co-author of “Huawei: Leadership, Culture and Connectivity,” which was awarded Best Business Book by PwC in 2018.

“The question of whether AI will replace human workers assumes that AI and humans have the same qualities and abilities — but, in reality, they don’t,” De Cremer explained in a July 2021 Venturebeat article. “AI-based machines are fast, more accurate and consistently rational, but they aren’t intuitive, emotional or culturally sensitive. It is in combining the strengths of AI and humans that we can be even more effective.”

As an advisor, speaker and executive educator to leaders in Asia, Europe and North America, De Cremer brings a human-centered approach to the study and application of AI, teaching leaders how to be more proactive, the importance of building trust, and why compliance requires less rule-based approaches and more purpose-driven leadership. Among his other noted accomplishments, he has contributed to significant executive development and corporate culture initiatives in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and advised such clients as Novartis, AB Inbev, KPMG, Solvay, IBM, Barclays, Rabobank, Nestle, Bank of Singapore, Bosch, ING, Cisco, Mizuho, Bayer, Exmar, and DSM, among others.

Keeping Digital Systems Human-Centered

To ensure a successful transition and avoid significant financial losses, De Cremer stresses the importance of getting input from people across the organization before starting the digital transformation process.

“You can have a lot of technology but if people can’t use it or don’t understand it, it is of no use and companies waste a lot of money,” explains De Cremer, who is a master at connecting the dots and bridging conversations between tech experts and non-tech experts. “You must first define ‘optimizing AI’ then ask key questions that specifically relate to your business and your employees to be sure your investment will be worth what you get on the other end. The point is, don’t be digitally obsessed and forget about the people.”

Named to Thinkers50’s radar class of 2021, and nominated for the distinguished Digital Thinking Award,  De Cremer is a strong supporter of gender diversity and inclusive practices, and he is particularly valued by organizational leaders looking for a unique perspective on navigating Asian economies.

“Getting to know China is like getting to know the world,” says De Cremer, who has lived and worked in China and now resides in Singapore. “Many Western leaders try to jump into a relationship with Chinese executives quickly. But that tactic often fails because in China you have to prove your value first.”

A futurist at heart, De Cremer is passionate about helping organizations prepare for a new era where success will be defined by how well they balance the Human+AI equation.

# # #

Before he was appointed Provost Chair and Professor in Management and Organisation at NUS Business School, David De Cremer was the KPMG endowed Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) and a fellow at St. Edmunds College, Cambridge University (UK). In addition to serving as a scientific advisor to several multinational companies, he was also a faculty member and (visiting) professor at London Business School (LBS), China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Harvard University, Stanford University, New York University (NYU) and Rotterdam School of Management (RSM). He has taken up several senior leadership roles including director and founder of two research centers. In 2005, he became a fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science. In 2009-2010, he was named the most influential behavioral economist in the Netherlands (Top 40 of economists); in 2016 he was voted one of the Top Thought Leaders in Trust by Trust Across America; and in 2020 he was named one of 30 top management speakers by GlobalGurus.

De Cremer has published more than 300 academic papers and articles in the fields of economics, management and psychology, and his work has been featured in international media including Scientific American, Bloomberg News, The Economist, Forbes, The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, China Daily, South China Morning Post, The Straits Times and The Business Times.

He has a PhD in behavioral economics and psychology from the University of Southampton, England, an M.A. from the University of Cambridge, and an MSc in psychology and B.A. in philosophy from the University of Leuven, Belgium.

David De Cremer is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Media

Both Moral And Digital Upskilling Equally Vital

August 3, 2021

Can Robots Transform Offshore Energy Standardization? Regulations and Workforce Are The Keys.

April 15, 2021

AI Should Augment Human Intelligence, Not Replace It

March 18, 2021

Viewpoint: AI Can Enhance Human Intelligence Instead of Replacing It

March 18, 2021

A Special Report on AI and Humans

January 15, 2021

Artificial Intelligence: Just Who Is In Charge Around Here?

January 15, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Is Great For Day-To-Day Stuff, But It Can’t Build A Business

December 28, 2020

Leadership By Algorithm: An Interview With David De Cremer

December 22, 2020

Artificial Intelligence Will Change How We Think About Leadership

November 2, 2020

What Does Building a Fair AI Really Entail?

September 3, 2020

What COVID-19 Teaches Us About the Importance of Trust at Work

June 9, 2020

FT Business Books: April to June Edition

June 5, 2020

Commentary: Brexit Is Just Not Worth It Anymore

April 11, 2019

Lessons From Huawei: When Chinese Companies Go Global

April 16, 2018

Why You Should Never Copy Your Boss In On Work Emails (And How CC-ing Can 'Poison' A Work Environment)

May 3, 2017

'Ego Mail': Growing Number of Men CC'ing Bosses Into Emails To Get Ahead At Work

April 27, 2017

How To Make Everyone Hate You On Email

April 26, 2017

This Simple Email Mistake Could Make Everyone In Your Office Hate You

April 26, 2017

CC’ing the Boss on Email Makes Employees Feel Less Trusted

April 20, 2017

Cambridge Judge Professor Talks Ethics in the Workplace

January 27, 2017

When Transparency Backfires, and How to Prevent It

July 21, 2016

How To Foster A Speaking Up Culture At Work

October 28, 2016

Huawei’s Culture Is the Key to Its Success

June 11, 2015

The Economist logo

Taming The Irrational Executive

June 10, 2015

Compliance Alone Won’t Make Your Company Safe

May 18, 2015

Why Our Trust in Banks Hasn’t Been Restored

March 3, 2015

Understanding Trust, In China and the West

February 11, 2015

A Dilemma for China's Business Schools ($)

October 12, 2014

Breaking The Corruption Habit

November 25, 2013

Fixing Bonuses

October 2, 2013

Trust Deficit

September 9, 2013

Leaders Need A Lesson In Crisis Management

January 22, 2012

Chinese Business Schools Face A Crucial But Difficult Task

September 30, 2012

Experience Needs To Be Blended With Theory

May 15, 2011

Something For The Weekend

January 28, 2011

Apologies Fail to Live Up to Our Expectations

January 25, 2011

The Economist logo

The Bonus Myth

March 23, 2010

A-Z Name

De Cremer, David

Biography

How will AI impact the future of work and business operations around the world, and to what extent will Asian leaders play a role in dictating that future? Moreover, how do we keep jobs human-centered and AI ethical as robots and machines increasingly become co-workers?

These are some of the critical questions renowned leadership advisor, digital transformation strategist and technology futurist David De Cremer (deh-CRAY-mer) addresses when guiding organizations through change in what he calls the “New Tech Era.”

Provost Chair and Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, director and founder of its Centre on AI Technology for Humankind, and a widely respected behavioral scientist, De Cremer helps leaders in every industry make tactical, sustainable, and ethical decisions around integrating new technologies, particularly those that will impact their organization, its employees and the development of products they sell.

In his latest book, “Leadership by Algorithm: Who Leads and Who Follows in the AI Era” (Harriman House, May 2020), De Cremer reveals his futurist side, identifying key areas where algorithms will likely collide with human skills as AI becomes a bigger part of the workforce. The kindle version of the book quickly topped Amazon’s charts, was named among the 15 best leadership books by Wharton School Press, and was recognized by The World Economic Forum. De Cremer is also the bestselling co-author of “Huawei: Leadership, Culture and Connectivity,” which was awarded Best Business Book by PwC in 2018.

“The question of whether AI will replace human workers assumes that AI and humans have the same qualities and abilities — but, in reality, they don’t,” De Cremer explained in a July 2021 Venturebeat article. “AI-based machines are fast, more accurate and consistently rational, but they aren’t intuitive, emotional or culturally sensitive. It is in combining the strengths of AI and humans that we can be even more effective.”

As an advisor, speaker and executive educator to leaders in Asia, Europe and North America, De Cremer brings a human-centered approach to the study and application of AI, teaching leaders how to be more proactive, the importance of building trust, and why compliance requires less rule-based approaches and more purpose-driven leadership. Among his other noted accomplishments, he has contributed to significant executive development and corporate culture initiatives in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and advised such clients as Novartis, AB Inbev, KPMG, Solvay, IBM, Barclays, Rabobank, Nestle, Bank of Singapore, Bosch, ING, Cisco, Mizuho, Bayer, Exmar, and DSM, among others.

Keeping Digital Systems Human-Centered

To ensure a successful transition and avoid significant financial losses, De Cremer stresses the importance of getting input from people across the organization before starting the digital transformation process.

“You can have a lot of technology but if people can’t use it or don’t understand it, it is of no use and companies waste a lot of money,” explains De Cremer, who is a master at connecting the dots and bridging conversations between tech experts and non-tech experts. “You must first define ‘optimizing AI’ then ask key questions that specifically relate to your business and your employees to be sure your investment will be worth what you get on the other end. The point is, don’t be digitally obsessed and forget about the people.”

Named to Thinkers50’s radar class of 2021, and nominated for the distinguished Digital Thinking Award,  De Cremer is a strong supporter of gender diversity and inclusive practices, and he is particularly valued by organizational leaders looking for a unique perspective on navigating Asian economies.

“Getting to know China is like getting to know the world,” says De Cremer, who has lived and worked in China and now resides in Singapore. “Many Western leaders try to jump into a relationship with Chinese executives quickly. But that tactic often fails because in China you have to prove your value first.”

A futurist at heart, De Cremer is passionate about helping organizations prepare for a new era where success will be defined by how well they balance the Human+AI equation.

# # #

Before he was appointed Provost Chair and Professor in Management and Organisation at NUS Business School, David De Cremer was the KPMG endowed Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) and a fellow at St. Edmunds College, Cambridge University (UK). In addition to serving as a scientific advisor to several multinational companies, he was also a faculty member and (visiting) professor at London Business School (LBS), China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Harvard University, Stanford University, New York University (NYU) and Rotterdam School of Management (RSM). He has taken up several senior leadership roles including director and founder of two research centers. In 2005, he became a fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Science. In 2009-2010, he was named the most influential behavioral economist in the Netherlands (Top 40 of economists); in 2016 he was voted one of the Top Thought Leaders in Trust by Trust Across America; and in 2020 he was named one of 30 top management speakers by GlobalGurus.

De Cremer has published more than 300 academic papers and articles in the fields of economics, management and psychology, and his work has been featured in international media including Scientific American, Bloomberg News, The Economist, Forbes, The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, China Daily, South China Morning Post, The Straits Times and The Business Times.

He has a PhD in behavioral economics and psychology from the University of Southampton, England, an M.A. from the University of Cambridge, and an MSc in psychology and B.A. in philosophy from the University of Leuven, Belgium.

David De Cremer is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Future of Asia and Its Impact on Global Leadership

How will Asia influence the way companies around the world do business in the coming decade and beyond? In the next five years, 88% of the world’s new middle class will reside in Asia, underscoring the reality that global business and leadership will be colored by Asian values, approaches and strategies in significant ways. In this presentation, based on his book, “On the Emergence and Understanding of Asian Global Leadership” (July 2021), renowned leadership advisor, digital transformation strategist and technology futurist David De Cremer explores how these factors will impact business and society, and explains why organizations will increasingly focus on needs, values and strategies that are uniquely Asian, requiring us to redefine our notion of global leadership.

Leadership, Algorithms and the Future of Work

How can leaders keep technology human-centered as machines and AI become an integral part of the workplace? In this presentation, based on his 2020 book, “Leadership by Algorithm: Who Leads and Who Follows in the AI Era,” renowned behavioral scientist, digital transformation strategist and technology futurist David De Cremer reveals key areas where algorithms will likely collide with human skills as AI becomes a bigger part of the workforce. Drawing on his own research findings, and those from thought leaders around the world, he shares fascinating insights into the challenges that an automated work environment will pose for organizations in the future and explains how leaders can be preemptive by adopting new technologies in ways that leverage the strengths of both AI and humans.

The Ethical AI Paradox: Only Humans Can Ensure Algorithmic Decisions Are Ethical

Fears around robots and machines taking our jobs are real, as are ethical concerns about devices, computers and social media algorithms governing our decisions and invading our privacy. What does this mean for the role of humans in a world increasingly dominated by AI? The idea that we can teach AI to make ethical, unbiased algorithmic decisions is misleading, says renowned behavioral scientist, digital transformation strategist and technology futurist David De Cremer. Drawing from his June 2021 research paper, “The Ethical AI Paradox,” De Cremer explains why better technology requires more – not less – human input. He emphasizes the importance of training managers to recognize human biases embedded in machine decisions so the results can be used as a learning tool. Such protocols allow organizations to recognize their own blind spots and biases so they can course correct, while also enhancing their ability to develop and use technologies responsibly.

Finding Your “Real” Leadership

In these volatile and uncertain times, leaders are confronted more than ever with the task of creating meaningful and supportive work environments. What does this mean for leaders when it comes to motivating, inspiring and empowering their people, and how do they navigate and balance their own concerns and needs with those of their teams? To deal with these challenges effectively, leaders need a strong backbone that is based on a clear set of values derived from a strong sense of self-awareness regarding their own leadership identity. Based on his own research and a series of exercises that David De Cremer designed and tested across several cultures and continents, he helps participants identify what it takes to be an effective purpose-driven leader, emphasizing the importance of taking better care of oneself along the journey.

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Books & Research

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Workshops

Leading with Knowledge, Purpose and Confidence

There’s a lot of pressure on leaders to be confident, knowledgeable and purpose driven. Most people, however, no matter how high up they are in an organization, experience doubt from time to time. In his transformative research and education, renowned behavioral scientist, digital transformation strategist and leadership advisor David De Cremer addresses these issues by helping leaders look at how to:

  • expand their knowledge by developing an ability to see beyond what they normally see and seek out what they don’t know
  • lead with clarity of purpose
  • develop confidence in their value to the organization and its employees

Building on these insights, leaders are equipped with the tools they need to operate with more agility, put meaning behind their actions, and build trust by creating value with colleagues in a confident and collaborative way.

Advisory & Consulting

David De Cremer – Provost Chair and Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School and director and founder of its Centre on AI Technology for Humankind – is a widely respected behavioral scientist, digital transformation strategist and technology futurist who helps leaders in every industry make tactical and ethical decisions around integrating new technologies. A veteran leadership advisor, he has contributed to significant executive development and corporate culture initiatives in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, having served as a consultant to such companies as Novartis, AB Inbev, KPMG, Solvay, IBM, Barclays, Rabobank, Nestle, Bank of Singapore, Bosch, ING, Cisco, Mizuho, Bayer, Exmar, and DSM, among others. Professor De Cremer is available to discuss any or all of the following topics during one-on-one or small group advisory meetings. Each program can be customized to meet the needs and goals of your organization with the added option of meeting virtually or in person.

AI, Ethics and the Future of Work

  • The Future of Work: Designing a World/Organization for Machines and Humans
  • The Ethical AI Paradox
  • The Circle of Irony in People Analytics
  • Conceptualization and Implementation of Integrity-based Compliance Thinking (Contrary to Rule-based Compliance)

Leadership

  • The Three Laws of Leadership
  • Leadership by Algorithm
  • The Psychology of Vulnerable Leadership
  • Asian Global Leadership
  • Leading Organizations in the AI Era: Challenges and Opportunities
  • Building a Trustworthy Workplace and Cultivating a Leader’s Ability to Repair Trust
  • Behavioral Approaches to Promoting Leadership Purpose

Recommendations

“Prof. David De Cremer has provided in-house training and education seminars for the executive committee of Exmar Shipmanagement NV since 2013. He was instrumental in developing the necessary strategic tools to grow in our position as a market leader in offering complex but elegant logistic solutions to the oil and gas industry. Apart from being a well-published and astute academic he’s also a fun person to be with. His thought-provoking insights are a must-have for every company involved in value-based entrepreneurship.”

– Capt. Marc Nuytemans, FNI – CEO Exmar Shipmanagement NV – Member of the Executive Committee of EXMAR NV (EXM:BRU)

Praise for “Leadership By Algorithm”

“Will your next boss be a robot? In case you haven’t pondered your AI future, David De Cremer―one of the ‘World’s Top 30 Management Gurus’―has done it for you in his fascinating book, ‘Leadership By Algorithm.’ Read your future today.”

– James Bradley, Three-times New York Times bestseller and author of “Flags of Our Fathers”

“David De Cremer, one of the top gurus in corporate culture, provides unique insight in ‘Leadership by Algorithm’ as to what leadership means in the AI age. Ignore at your peril!”

– Alexandros Papaspyridis, Director Higher Education at Microsoft Asia Pacific Japan

“The tech revolution is happening. But what we need now is a revolution in leadership and in organisations. David De Cremer expertly maps out how this can and must happen.”

– Stuart Crainer, Co-founder Thinkers50

“Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence, but no one has a clue how it will affect the way organizations are managed… until now. David De Cremer, a leading expert, has written the most informative book I’ve read on how algorithms will change leadership―and which parts are unlikely to be replaced by a machine.”

– Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of ‘Originals’ and ‘Give and Take,’ and host of the chart-topping TED podcast WorkLife

“Over the course of the last quarter century, Huawei has become one of the most important telecommunications companies in the world and, arguably, one of the most powerful Chinese companies in the global economy. Yet, there is much that is not known about Huawei and much that is misunderstood. As the foremost authority on Huawei in the world, Tian Tao brings deep knowledge and unprecedented access to help pull back the veil on one of the world’s most enigmatic companies. This book will be essential reading for politicians, pundits, and anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of this important company.”

– Dr. Doug Guthrie, Professor and Former Dean at the George Washington School of Business and Author of “Dragon in a Three-piece Suit”

Praise for “The Proactive Leader”

“Why do our leaders often fail to take up responsibility and make decisions in a timely fashion? David De Cremer uses behavioral analyses to explain this important leadership failure and what to do about it.”

– John a. Quelch, Distinguished Professor of International Management, Co-Chair of the International Advisory Board, and Chairman of the Academic Council at CEIBS and Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

“An excellent guide for leaders who want to get their followers, as well as themselves, to follow through.”

– Piers Steel, Author of the Bestselling Book “The Procrastination Equation” and Distinguished Research Chair in Advanced Business Leadership at Haskyne School of Business

“David De Cremer’s book provides excellent insights on the direct impact of a timely decision on the performance of a business team. A must-read for any business leader, especially in emerging markets.”

– Mark Goyens, President, Bekaert Asia

“Most leaders are concerned about how to make timely, precise and accurate decisions and often suffer from the failures in meeting these personal ambitions. In his brilliant book, David De Cremer uses various techniques in analyzing how people make decisions and in what way procrastination plays a role. With excellent behavioral analyses and examples, leaders will gain knowledge from understanding the roots and consequences of procrastination and learn how to mitigate the negative effects. A must-read for all leaders!”

– Michael Thurow, Senior Advisor, InterChina Consulting

“You have got to read this book! It is easy to read and there are tons of practical tips and tricks to help you, the modern multcultural leader, become more efficient and effective. David De Cremer’s book is an inspiration to those of us wondering why leaders hesitate to take decisions that seem to be so obvious. Once you get started, you won’t put it down!”

– Bjarne Lemmich, Head of Finance College, Novartis Pharmaceutical

“Why do we delay the decisions we know that we need to make? Is it because we are afraid to fail? David De Cremer’s book gives an answer to this critical question that in our current complex global world is more and more present. After reading this book, you will not have any more excuses to delay your decisions.”

– José Martínez-Adam, General Manager Corporate Center Talent, Solvay S.A.

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