Each September, I look forward to the week when the annual meeting of former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative and the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly turn New York's already crowded streets into a snarled mess of town cars and diverted traffic.
It can be a nightmare if you're trying to get anywhere quickly, but the opportunity to have so many globally minded individuals from diverse nations in a single place is a critical one for advancing the conversation. Even in our quickly moving, socially connected world, there's great value in being in the same room together. So, I welcome heads of state, global leaders, investors and innovators to New York City. They will offer us access and insight as they tackle the world's biggest economic and social challenges.
I've covered the CGI Annual Meeting and participated in panels and sessions for several years and am struck by the depth of experience and commitment from the attendees and speakers. Over several days of high-level sessions, the hallways at the Sheraton in Times Square will be filled with leaders across sectors: from Silicon Valley stars like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to actual rock stars like Bono, to the world's richest man, Bill Gates and the founders of innovative start-up companies, CGI aims to turn ideas into action.
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The theme for this year's gathering, which is being held through Thursday, is "Mobilizing for Impact," encouraging the business and political leaders that make up CGI's membership to go beyond making commitments to social change and identify the strategies that will lead them to lasting success. I'll be sitting down, one-on-one, with the former president to discuss the kind of impact he envisions and hear his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing the global economy.
Here at home, we may be feeling cautiously optimistic about our prospects for growth and the strength of our corporate profits, but are still concerned about the stability of our international partners. I'll be talking to such leaders as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who wants to guide his resource-rich economy toward growth, and Italy's Enrico Letta, who is balancing the easing of austerity policies with a troubling unemployment rate.
Business leaders like Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands and Cisco's John Chambers will weigh in on identifying opportunities for growth and how they welcome customers from all over the globe. I'll also be talking to the Nobel Peace Prize winning-economist Muhammad Yunus about his role as a judge in the world's largest student competition, an event that kicks off CGI's Annual Meeting, where the winning team of social entrepreneurs receives $1 million in seed capital.
—By CNBC's Maria Baritoromo.