ULI Philadelphia Blog

Event Recap: “The Future of Work”

About 200 ULI members and colleagues came together on Thursday, February 14th at the Free Library of Philadelphia for the kick-off of the Future of Work project, partnered by ULI Philadelphia and PIDC. Keynote speaker, Susan Lund from the McKinsey Global Institute, started off the morning with a presentation on her research into the future of work, followed by two panels who discussed topics ranging from national job disruption to empathy in artificial intelligence.

Lund’s presentation focused on the wide range of American occupations and their ability to be automated. Her research at McKinsey predicts that the majority of jobs can be classified as “semi-automatable,” and each industry must learn to adapt several years, if not decades, in advance of disruptive and displacing technologies to prevent radical shifts in the labor market. Many large employers have already committed major capital to workforce retraining, which will become increasingly important in preserving businesses.

Anne Bovaird Nevins, Chief Strategy and Communications Officer at PIDC, moderated two panels: The Innovators and The Implications for Philadelphia. Each group expanded on Lund’s remarks and the impacts of disruptive technology and artificial intelligence on Philadelphia’s not-too-distant future. Amongst the broader themes that emerged from these panels were:

  • The importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) and empathy in human capital practice in Philadelphia-based businesses.
  • The continued push for Philadelphia as a biotech hub – specifically, refining Philadelphia’s capacity to quickly and cheaply repurpose land as lab space and making use of all medical university faculty and resources.
  • Investing in infrastructure and communications bandwidth – as a telecommunications hub, the city should aim to reduce the cost of providing essential communications network (i.e. broadband, fiber).

To learn more about each of the panelists, click here.

ULI Philadelphia would like to thank our partner PIDC, as well as ULI’s sponsors, speakers and all of the members and volunteers who made the Future of Work event possible. We are excited to continue exploring and researching how the future of work will shape our landscape and how Philadelphia should respond in order to stay competitive nationally and globally.

Presented in Partnership By



For more information PIDC’s 2020 strategic objectives and the Future of Work research, click here.

Contributed by Bridget Labe. Bridget is one of the 2019 ULI Etkin Johnson Scholars and is currently pursuing her MBA at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


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