Michele Wucker founded Gray Rhino & Company to help leaders, organizations, and communities to identify and strategize responses to “gray rhino” risks: the term she coined to urge people to face up to challenges that are obvious and probable yet which we are prone to neglect despite, and often because of, their size.
The gray rhino metaphor has moved markets, shaped financial policies, inspired lyrics of a global K-pop hit song, made headlines around the world in more than 50 countries and over 30 languages, and shaped high-level debates from Davos to NATO to the Drucker Forum.
She is the author of four books, including YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World Pegasus Books, April 2021). Her third book was the international bestseller, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, which China’s leadership has used to frame and communicate its crackdown on financial risk.
Michele draws on more than three decades of experience in strategy, economics and finance, public policy, turnarounds and crisis management, as well as media and think tank management and content creation. She also has a broad background in behavioral economics, organizational dynamics, risk, geo-politics, and economic analysis.
Michele introduced the gray rhino concept at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2013 and developed it in her 2016 book, which was released to praise from global business, policy, and thought leaders. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, displays the book in his office and referred to gray rhinos in a much referenced January 2019 speech. Published in China in February 2017 in simplified Chinese characters, it became a runaway best-seller. In a front-page editorial in People’s Daily, senior government officials embraced the term “gray rhino” as a way to signal policy changes to reduce financial risk in the economy, sparking global media coverage from the front page of The New York Times to stories in Turkey, Malaysia, Qatar, Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico, and many other other countries around the world. Translations of the book have been released in Hungary, Korea, Taiwan (traditional Chinese characters), Norway, and Brazil (forthcoming Spring 2021). The Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines referred to the need to address gray rhinos in the title of a speech on financial crisis, and the concept helped shape the closing session of the 2017 Munich Security Conference.
Michele has delivered keynote speeches, presentations and workshops around the globe including Argentina, Mexico, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, India, China, South Korea, Singapore, France, England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Norway, and Sweden. Her 2019 TED Talk has been viewed well over 2 million times.
Her work earned her recognitions as a 2009 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2008 American Council on Germany Young Leader, and a 2010 Women’s Media Center Woman Making History, among other honors.
Michele’s writing on topics including immigration, citizenship, financial crisis, women’s leadership, and the global economy and international affairs has appeared around the world including in CNN.com, strategy + business, Inc., The (NY) Observer, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She has been interviewed by many broadcast media including National Public Radio, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox News.
Michele is an Oxfam Sisters on the Planet Ambassador, a mentor-editor at The OpEd Project, and a founding member of the Border of Lights arts collective. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Authors Guild.
Her first two books are LOCKOUT: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right (PublicAffairs, 2006) and WHY THE COCKS FIGHT: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola (Hill & Wang, 1999).
Her previous leadership positions include Vice President for Studies at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, President of the World Policy Institute, and Latin America Bureau Chief at International Financing Review. She also has taught master’s students at the School for International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, of which she is an alumna.
Michele holds a B.A. from Rice University, a Master’s from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a Certificate in Global Leadership from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.