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Meet the Leader: Michele Wucker

Hosted by the LSE IDEAS

Online public event


Michele Wucker

Michele Wucker

Strategic advisor and author of 'The Gray Rhino' (2016)


Professor Lutfey Siddiqi

Professor Lutfey Siddiqi

Visiting Professor in Practice, LSE IDEAS

Michele Wucker speaks with Lutfey Siddiqi as part of the Meet the Leader series, hosted by LSE IDEAS’ Alumni Network and China Foresight.

Meet the speaker and chair

Michele Wucker is a strategic advisor and best-selling author who coined the term “grey rhino” as a call to take a fresh look at obvious, probable, impactful risks that give us a choice to act or not. Her insights help to explain why some people step up to head off danger yet others let themselves and those around them get trampled. Michele introduced the grey rhino at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2013. It inspired her third book, the influential global best-seller, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on Obvious Dangers We Ignore, in 2016. Drawing on her work as a policy analyst, financial journalist, and think tank executive, she founded the Chicago-based advisory firm Gray Rhino & Company to help business and policy decision makers to apply grey rhino theory to improve their responses. To her great surprise, Michele’s readers encouraged her to apply the concept to more personal issues. Her 2019 TED Talk about personal uses of grey rhino theory has attracted more than 2.5 million views. Her newest book, YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World, builds on insights into personal and cultural influences and explores the feedback loop among individual, organizational, and societal factors in influencing grey rhino responses.

The grey rhino metaphor has sent tremors through global stock markets when Chinese officials used it to warm of financial risks. It made headlines around the world as a framework for the ignored warnings for the COVID-19 pandemic and has appeared in media in more than 65 countries and 35 languages and counting. Central banks and securities regulators around the world use grey rhino theory, as do business strategists, boards of directors, business continuity and emergency management professionals, insurers, and policy makers focused on everything from national security to climate change. The grey rhino inspired a lyric in the hit single, “Blue & Grey,” by the global mega-K-Pop phenomenon BTS. It also has inspired characters in a video game and an experimental jazz single in Japan, and a dance choreography in Australia. The grey rhino also has appeared in the pages of books by respected historians and diplomats, a Brazilian self-help book, and a science fiction novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. Michele speaks regularly to high-level audiences on risk management, the global economy, and decision-making, and is quoted often in leading media. She has been recognized as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a Guggenheim Fellow, among other honors.

Lutfey Siddiqi is a Visiting Professor in Practice at LSE IDEAS and a co-investigator at LSE Inclusion Initiative (TII). He is a member of the advisory boards of LSE Systemic Risk Centre, LSE IDEAS and TII. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the National University of Singapore (Risk Management Institute) and advisory board member of the Centre for Governance and Sustainability (CGS) at NUS business school. He was previously Global Head of Emerging Markets for Foreign Exchange, Rates & Credit at UBS Investment Bank where he was also the founding head of UBS Knowledge Network. Prior to that, he was a Managing Director at Barclays Bank in charge of a business-line across Asia Pacific.

More about this event

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is LSE's foreign policy think tank. Through sustained engagement with policymakers and opinion-formers, IDEAS provides a forum that informs policy debate and connects academic research with the practice of diplomacy and strategy.

China Foresight is an LSE IDEAS project that analyses Chinese strategy, foreign policy and influence from the inside out.

Find out more about the Meet the Leader sessions as part of LSE IDEAS Executive MSc International Strategy and Diplomacy Alumni Network by clicking here.


We aim to make all of our events available as a podcast subject to receiving permission from the speaker/s to do this, and subject to no technical problems with the recording of the event. Podcasts and videos of past LSE IDEAS events can be found online.

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