Amy Dacey is EVP and Managing Director of Issues Management and Public Affairs at MWWPR, one of the world’s leading independent full service PR agencies. Dacey leads the firm’s PR practice, and is a key player on the firm’s management team.

Prior to her time at MWW, Dacey served as CEO of the Democratic National Committee between  2014 and 2016, and was Executive Director for Emily’s List, one of the most powerful political action committees in the country, focused on Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.

We had the opportunity to speak with Dacey in the run up to her participation in Dreamforce’s CEO Working Sessions, held in partnership with the World Economic Forum at the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold, companies have more influence over the lives of their customers than ever. Technology like AI promises a paradigm shift in the relationship between institutions and the populations they serve, whether those institutions are governments, NGOs, or corporations.

That means an expanded role for business leaders, and new questions on topics like privacy, control of data, bias, and inequality. How should CEOs navigate their companies through this challenging new world?

As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we've seen the role of business change considerably — and with it, our expectations of companies. In this next phase, CEOs must collaborate and work in partnership with government and civil societies. Nobody is standing alone any more.

The CEO must ensure that as their customers’ expectations increase, their workforce understands the new jobs they’ll be expected to do, and is provided with the training and support to do them well.

What does that collaboration between corporations and governments look like?

Partnership is definitely important. In the past when rapid change occurred in an industry, the pace remained such that policy structures and regulations were developed within a time frame to impact industry developments.

Now innovation is moving so fast that government is challenged to keep up with regulating new industries and new areas of innovation. As a society, this is a real challenge.

Much of the expertise is found within businesses and this is why collaborating with policymakers is imperative.

We want to make sure there are conversations that consider the appropriate way to look at regulations related to innovations like AI, driverless cars, and 3D printing. When I'm talking with elected leaders and people on the Hill, they're looking for expertise on the business side.

Recently you shared research on what you call the corpsumer, a demographic motivated to align with companies that share their values. Again, this seems to speak to changing customer expectations of the role of business in society. Can you explain a little more about your findings?

Corpsumers believe that a company's values, actions, and corporate reputation are as important as the products they make. They make up about a third of the population and span age and gender.

They're more likely to be millennials, Gen Xers, and full-time workers — well-educated people with a higher income, who are culturally current and follow what's going on in the world. They observe how companies are reacting in a values-based way and invest their money and loyalty with brands that reflect values similar to their own.

We found that 67% of these corpsumers would pay full price for a product that reflects their personal values.

From a business’ point of view, it’s really important to understand what the values of their customers are, and whether the company is aligned to them. Whether it’s workplace investment, or environmental responsibility, what we’ve found is that buying decisions are impacted by a company’s values.

What’s more, people are increasingly seeing leading corporations as more than simply good corporate citizens, but actually as change agents — as actors that can not only evolve and react to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but lead the rest of society through it, and ensure everybody benefits from the advances.

AI is likely to have a major impact on the workforce of the future. One of the ways companies are likely to have a role to play in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is by their approach to workforce development and training.

What advice would you give companies thinking about investments in their employees so that they are prepared for this new world?

We talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution as something happening in the future but there are workforce training issues today. Talent will matter more than technology moving forward.

Companies need to both have a role in develop talent and retrain their workforce.

Again, this is about partnerships between corporations and other players in society. Building up small apprenticeship programs could help people move from different industries to develop skill sets anticipated for the next wave of innovation.

These apprenticeships could be smart, short-term programs to get people in the workforce right away. The German apprenticeship program gives us an example of valuable training that falls outside the traditional higher education programs, and, is hugely beneficial.

Beyond apprenticeships, there needs to be closer partnerships between companies and higher education here in the USA. Are the courses of study we’re doing integrating the STEM issues that are so important in developing the workforce of the future?

There are companies already using internal programs that could be mirrored and there are some creative new ventures happening. For example, Udacity is a company that creates training programs in AI, machine learning, and other new technology, and it also partners with businesses to get people trained and qualified to be hired. We clearly need to expand and invest in training in different ways.

Do you have a view on the particular skills companies should be hiring for or developing in their workforces?  

There’s a famous statistic that suggests that for children in elementary school right now, 65% of the jobs they’ll be doing don’t even exist yet.

So it’s always going to be tough to define the specific jobs people will be doing in the future. What we can do is think about both how we’ll change up training and development, and the sort of skills people are likely to need in the future.

I think apprenticeships are also a very nimble way to try and create those curriculums to get people working for the jobs now but also thinking forward with what might be in the future. It's ever-changing and we have to be nimble. We need to partner with higher education in the U.S. to envision what the university of the future looks like.  

But there are also the skills of problem-solving, innovative thinking, and creativity. The way people think, approach their jobs, and problem-solve are the very traits that are going to be useful in the jobs of the future to make technologies more efficient.

This article is part of a Trailblazer spotlight series on the Fourth Industrial Revolution — a concept introduced by Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum to describe the fundamental shift in the business and social landscape as a result of a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. For this series, we’ve interviewed a number of chief executives and thought leaders about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the business world. Check out the the other posts in the series: