Tag Archives: innovation

Sam Ashraf: The Meaning of Winning

MCTent

When I flew to Mexico City, I knew that I would meet amazing people. I didn’t expect, however, to reconnect with one of these people, a young man committed to social impact, less than a month later in Cairo. How is this possible in today’s fast-moving and ever-changing world? The answer is Hult Prize, the world’s largest social impact movement.

MCJudges?I was in Mexico City for 1 of 15 Hult Prize regional finals. Inspired by the culture in Mexico, I not only attended the regional competition, but I participated as one of the 9 esteemed judges. As I sat in the judge’s room, Abe and his co-founder blew us away with his idea to Harness the Power of Energy to Transform lives. Their idea utilized a patented technology to pull water from the air and provide it as an essential resource to refugees.

MCTower

Sounds simple? Well, it wasn’t, and perhaps that’s why Sam’s team didn’t win, despite going through the regional competition in Mexico as a finalist. Slightly disappointed, the judges and I rallied around Sam, and urged him not to give up. “We love your idea,” we said. “Keep going, but take with you a few tips, recommendations, and introductions. Consider them and come back to us.”

The full impact of our words might not have occurred to Sam. An open and intelligent listener, he went on to compete in the first ever Hult Prize Egypt National program on June 1st, where we met again. I was a keynote in Egypt, and traveled there from Montreal days after losing my father in NYC. Why would you make such a big trip while in mourning? I explained that my father would want me to follow through on my commitments. He would also say that you get your energy from people – and from inspiring youth to lead a life of impact.

PyramidSphinx  Stones

At the start of the Egypt nationals, I was invited to share an inspirational speech with the competitors. Sam was in the room, surrounded by young Egyptian competitors, many of whom are now committed members of the social impact movement I love. His mother, Gihan Salib, was also in the room.

The program took place during Ramadan, and our sunset dinner was unique, all of us breaking the fast together. As I walked into the open air dining room at the American University in Cairo, I saw a woman my age smiling up at me. I knew that we had to share dinner together. It was Sam’s mother, who said, “You have changed my son’s life by believing in him when he lost in Mexico City. You lifted his spirit and inspired him to move forward. You have to believe he is one of many people whose lives you have changed for the good.”

Unfortunately, Sam lost in Egypt too, but he was not as concerned. We spent the following day together touring the Pyramids (his first time there too), riding camels, shopping for local gifts, and sharing our vision for life and the future.

Camel  Egypt_HoldingRock

Egypt_SSCamelFor those who are reading this, life has many twists and turns. Losing can mean winning. And sometimes winning takes on an entirely new meaning. I now have a friend for life who inspires me, and Sam has a new journey, one that will be my joy and privilege to guide, and to share in his successes. This is only the beginning of a very long road together. How amazing is that?

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with Sam and interview him about his experience in the competition. Here is a little bit more of his story:

Tell me about your Hult Prize Idea and how you got funding to travel to Mexico City.

Me and my team had initially dabbled with multiple ideas from ones involving disciplines of aquaponics to others that were intended to enhance public transportation efficiency. After spending quite some time brainstorming, we decided to settle with the business idea that we viewed to be most feasible, profitable, and fit to this year’s Hult Prize challenge, harnessing the power of energy. The idea was simple. We had developed an approved schematic flow diagram of a device that was to be installed in off-grid areas to generate water and electricity from atmospheric humidity for distribution to energy- and water-destitute areas. The plan was to develop many units of this device to be rented out or sold to construction companies who carry out off-grid construction projects and use the profit to develop similar units for refugee camps in the Middle East and other off-grid communities in Africa. Refugees receive little power and water supply. Accordingly, the refugee camps of Azraq and Zaatari in Jordan were our intended pilot. As for how we were funded, we first sought support from our university. Seeing as there is no formally dedicated department for such cases at our university, I took it upon myself to meet with the president of the university. He was not easy to reach, so I had to set an appointment multiple times but only ended up meeting with his secretary. When a “no” was received, we decided to go to the department of student activities where I suggested that we could use Hult Prize@GUC as an active working group (AWG) to raise the money (since raising money as students who don’t belong to an AWG is prohibited on campus). That, too, was met with refusal. Fortunately, we worked in parallel in search of funds outside the university by seeking support from companies who listened to the idea. Finally, we managed to get one construction company to fund the trip and accommodation after pitching our idea.

MCCompFlagWhat happened in Mexico and what obstacles did you have to overcome?

Obtaining the funds needed to get to Mexico was the biggest obstacle. Arriving in Mexico City on March 15th marked the endpoint to 30 hours of travel time from Cairo. Direct flights were not available, and even if they were they would have been too expensive. That said, we experienced one other hurdle when we got there. While rehearsing for our presentation for one final time, we were surprised to find out that our Powerpoint file was corrupt and wouldn’t open. Consequently, we had to refurbish our presentation from the data we already had at the expense of missing orientation day on the 16th after having contacted Hult Prize volunteers informing them of what had happened. Fortunately, we had enough time and were able to pull an all-nighter for competition day!

What were the judges like?  Can you share some stories about your interactions with them?

After pitching in the final venue (we were the last team of 6 to pitch) and after the judges’ deliberation, we managed to talk about half the judges. As one might expect, they were extremely critical as needed. If I could describe them additionally in one word, it would be constructive. We sought advice from them on what we needed to improve and received the most insight from Colonel Eric Rojo, Sheryl, Andrea from Protrash, and Mrs. Mariuz Calvet from the Mexican bank Banorte. Additionally, I got to share a very stimulating, thought-provoking, futuristic conversation with Ahmad Ashkar, the CEO of Hult Prize, about new and upcoming technologies while on our 10 minute bus ride from the Chapultepec castle (the only castle in South America)!

PyramidsAfter leaving Mexico, what did you do to prepare for the Egypt Nationals?

After leaving Mexico, I broke down our tasks into milestones. With a rough business model ready, I worked on further development of the business plan while assigning the task of developing of a prototype to a team member. These would be the first two milestones. I also reached out to several NGOs for partnership. They were intrigued by our idea and shared our vision of energy sustainability and impact. I also outsourced a video editor to help create a video about AquaElectro’s endeavours for the Wild Card application.

How has this experience changed your life?

Hult Prize has been an amazing journey. After coming across a small on-campus booth by chance and applying because why not, I never thought I would end up in Mexico City integrating me and my team as part of the global change. Although competing and being runners-up was all part of a wild adrenaline rush, I am more proud of helping propagate the impact the foundation has on the world at large. I’ve gotten to know so many great people, organizers and competitors alike, with a common desire to change the world for the better and a fiery, youthful spirit. The connections I gained the past 6 months have been a priceless addition to my network of people! Moreover, one of the most prominent features of the community is multiculturalism, an environment in which I found myself thriving.

What are your next steps in your life’s journey?

I am currently applying for graduate studies abroad in molecular medicine or a related field, and I envision being heavily immersed in the biotechnology and genomics industries. I hope to work for companies like Johnson & Johnson or Genentech, which are like the pioneering tech companies of the biotechnology sector. The market is currently thriving, and I predict more and more disruptive products coming to market that will change our perception of diseases like cancer to say the least. After gaining enough experience in the industry, I hope to start my own biotechnology startup company with a primary goal of developing and commercializing medical solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are otherwise difficult to deal with.

Egypt_SherylandFam.jpg

What can I and others like me do to help the youth lead lives of impact?

I believe meeting Sheryl for the first time in Mexico City was one of the early moments of impact for me. I’m already inspired by the blogs she writes and by the fact that she is making her dad proud continuing to inspire young people like myself with her positive spirit! Uplifting is the word I would use to describe Sheryl and other agents of change at Hult Prize. With blogs like this and new expansions to the foundation (like the council), I think the influence will be not only far-reaching but also exponential from year to year. It’s amazing to see how this reach has grown over five times compared to 2017.

Is there anything else you want to share?

Yes! The Hult Prize experience has truly contributed to my personal growth intellectually and socially. It reinforces the growth mindset I choose to adopt and for that I’m sincerely grateful. It’s also an honor of mine to be featured in your blog and I want to express many many thanks to you for considering me!

MCBigGroup

The Beginning of the Journey

unnamed-2Name: Maysoun Ibrahim

Origin: Palestine

Year: 2018

Hult Prize Challenge: Harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people.

I recently interviewed Maysoun Ibrahim, a judge in the 2018 Hult Prize competition. She just finished the first ever Hult Prize National Finals in Ramallah, and I had the opportunity to learn about her amazing story and her experience in the competition.

Quote: “Not making it through the competition is not the end of the journey; it is only the start of the birth of persevered entrepreneurs.”

How did you hear about Hult Prize?

From Social Media.

I was contacted by its management team to participate as a judge in the first national program in Palestine. Afterwards, I looked for information about the prize and was impressed by what is written about it on social media.

32349143_2086572678298231_4585459393339850752_oWinningTeam_WestBank,BirzeitUWhy is Hult Prize important to your Country?

The Hult Prize provides promising opportunities to youth in Palestine to introduce change to their communities through social services and businesses by turning their social and development ideas into reality. At the national level, participating in the 2018 Hult Prize for the first time gives Palestine a valuable international exposure that sheds light on the innovative potentials of Palestinians in creating solutions that respond to the national developmental needs. The winner national teams, from West Bank and Gaza, will be visiting the Hult Prize Castle in the United Kingdom during July for a period of eight weeks during which they will enrich their knowledge and acquire new skills needed to plan for their solutions, develop adequate business strategies and implement their solutions accordingly. It is important to mention that the winning team of the US$1M will be present during the final ceremony planned to be held at the United Nations in New York. During this ceremony, the winning team will be exposed to the global ecosystem aimed at implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global, regional and national levels.

You have an interesting international background. How did your experience prepare you to be a judge?

My national and international professional experience widened my horizons, enriched my knowledge. It strengthened my skills and empowered me with skills that are transferable to my workplace, such as leadership, team building and negotiation. It exposed me to different cultures and backgrounds needed for one to understand the differences in contexts and the relative importance of initiatives and solutions accordingly. All of this, added to my education, previous involvement in major activities related to government, Academia, private sector and/ or the civil society added to my continuous willing to step out of my comfort zone to learn and grow at the personal and professional levels prepared me to be a judge.

32419260_2086567184965447_3166242069475753984_o

After a full day with the other judges, what did you learn?

I admired the passion and thirst of the young entrepreneurs to develop their societies and foster change in their communities. The students from all participating universities in Palestine, from both the West Bank and Gaza, were notably innovative in providing sustainable solutions to harnessing the power of energy, which is the 2018 Hult Prize theme. It was heartwarming to see that, despite the hard-living conditions and instability in Palestine, the young generation still has the dedication to change the World for the better and make Palestine a better place to live in.

32313861_2086568711631961_3894119475733069824_o.jpg

What impressed you most about the competition?

At the level of the students, what impressed me the most is their enthusiasm, maturity and dedication as they came up with well-defined ideas that are ready for implementation. Actually, selected ideas did not even need further details. They were only lacking the funding opportunity to proceed with the actual implementation. At the level of the prize management, I was impressed by the decision made to exceptionally consider two teams for the prize, one from the West Bank and another from Gaza given the special case of Palestine. This enabled two teams to win the national prize and spend eight weeks in the Hult Prize Castle in the UK.

32267480_2086570088298490_8707132519952154624_o.jpg

Did you learn anything new about student competitors?

Most of the students’ competitors are international ones. Some students were clever enough and studied their competitors well, learnt from them how to get better at what they are doing and then proposed an innovative solution that can compete other existing ones.    32350006_2086572894964876_6131908178385829888_o.jpg

What advice to you have for the student teams that didn’t make it through the competition?

Not winning does not mean losing in this case. All teams competed and listened to each other and to the comments of the judges. This by itself should be rewarding as the students can build on the comments provided, detail their projects and submit them again to the competition. So, in summary, not making it through the competition is not the end of the journey; it is only the start of the birth of persevered entrepreneurs.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

It was a fruitful experience being a judge at the Hult Prize National Finals in Palestine. I was honored to meet the management of the prize, different judges and students. I also got re-assured of the potential of the Palestinian people and have my hopes high that the young generation will introduce positive change to our beloved Palestine.

32332239_2086569001631932_7590017165554614272_o.jpg

 

From Individual Career Planning to CSR, it’s Not Who You Know, but How Well You Relate that Matters!

“A business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders.”

This is how I defined corporate social responsibility when I presented to a group of global executives at the 2018 Corporate Responsibility Summit in May 2018. After touring the Houston Food Bank to see how it serves local communities through food distribution, we settled in the auditorium of the facility to kick off the summit with a series of speakers who focused on serving communities through corporate social impact.

One of the speakers was Dennis Kennedy, Founder and Chair of the National Diversity Council (NDC), which houses the Corporate Social Responsibility Council. I met Dennis when I was at Dell EMC, where over a decade ago I founded and was President of the Women’s Leadership Forum on the West Coast. I partnered with Dennis and his team as they were relaunching NDC in Silicon Valley, by hosting their initial programs. I left EMC (now Dell Technologies), and brought my relationship with Dennis to Capgemini as I transitioned to a new role. They are an active partner, and a joint sponsor for CSR. Isn’t it amazing how relationships start with a helping hand and continue to grow into corporate sponsorships?

When I left Capgemini I wasn’t looking for a job. I was a partner with a $1billion business, working with amazing people at a French multinational. But the Executive Director of The Linux Foundation  offered me an amazing opportunity to join him as the Chief of Staff.  With my passions so close to building communities of innovation, I couldn’t resist! After a year, another CEO reached out to me – Ahmad Ashkar, Founder and CEO of the Hult Prize Foundation.  He and I have worked with each other for over 6 years. When were together again in San Francisco this spring, he looked at me and simply said, “Sheryl, what are you doing? Join me and follow a life of passion, impact and innovation. Lead the Hult Prize Council full time and drive global change as part of the world’s greatest millennial movement.”

That brings us right back to where we are. With my strong ongoing relationship with Capgemini (especially Yvonne Harris and Jean-Claude Violler), I was invited to keynote at the NDC Corporate Responsibility Summit 4th annual conference in Houston. This lesson is for everyone: every relationship you develop has the ability to impact you, your brand, and your reputation. You may leave an organization for another one, but what you leave behind is your legacy.  Respect them, and the people with whom you work. It only brings you closer when you leave and creates positive bonds for future collaboration.

 

These very relationships gave me the incredible opportunity to speak about corporate social responsibility, an essential topic in business today and one of my deepest passions. Throughout my work with the Hult Prize competition, I have worked with countless millennials and have seen their drive to make impact through for-profit, for-good business. As explained by Mario Molteni, a business professor at Milan’s Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in a Morning Future article on CSR, “Sustainability should be one of the skills [of all successful business men and women], not a specialisation.” The challenge of the 2018 Hult Prize competition could not emphasize this better – urging students to create scalable enterprises that harness the power of energy to transform lives because there is a market for sustainable products and business. And millennials are driving that demand.

In my presentation at the CSR summit, I identified several business approaches that are characteristic of socially responsible and sustainable enterprises. From connecting and serving neglected markets to looking into and shaping the future, these types of business approaches affect the willingness of millenials to interact with companies as customers or employees.  In her article, “Millennials Driving Brands to Practice Socially Responsible Marketing,” Sarah Landrum echoes what I have witnessed during my work with millennials: “Millennials prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards.” Brands are no longer associated with empty marketing – millennials are active and even suspicious consumers, analyzing the messages that companies put out, searching for the greater impact that businesses have in a social context.

I ended my presentation at the summit with a call to action. I urged the leaders at the conference to build CSR initiatives, engage customers and partners, and share via social media. These actions are necessary steps in promoting corporate social responsibility. Leaders need to make  CSR initiatives an integral part of their business, rather than a side project. And they must use the tools of social media to connect with consumers. Kelsey Chong articulates this necessity in her article, “Millennials and the Rising Demand for Corporate Social Responsibility,” arguing, “If a business slacks on properly maintaining its social media profile, it will soon fall victim to critical millennials who have noticed a lack in response, engagement, and interaction.” I have the chance to work with amazing millennials who drive this movement. By caring deeply about the brands and companies they do business with, this generation has turned the importance of CSR into visible action, creating enterprises like those in the Hult Prize that are for-good, for-profit, and a tool for reshaping the future.

During the Hult Prize Finals and Awards Dinner 2017 on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at the United Nations headquarters. (Mark Von Holden/Hult Prize Foundation via AP Images)

Aurelion: Going Global from Tunisia

I had the opportunity to interview Ghofrane Baaziz, from the University of Tunis Business School. Her story is amazing- she competed in and won the Campus Challenge in 2017, with teammates Sarah Saadi, Wafa Kouni, and Baha Gritly. The 2017 challenge was her favorite, and her team name was Eirene, named after the goddess of peace in honor of the challenge being about refugees. The team’s goal that year was to provide a virtual financial services platform for refugees to allow them to perform financial transactions, getting paid easily and securely. She has been involved in at least three regional events and was even asked to lead the Tunisia National event.

Ghofrane’s story shows an important lesson- you don’t have to win the Prize to be a winner.

Team: Aurelion

Origin: University of Tunis

Year: 2018

Hult Prize Challenge: Harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people.

Objective: Our idea consisted of providing access to better air conditioning systems in Central African hospitals while empowering working women.San Francisco Team hp2018

How did you get involved with Hult Prize?

Freshman year of college, that is, last year, although I was a business student, I did not know a thing about entrepreneurship let alone social entrepreneurship. I was just starting business school, not even sure if I made the right choice, but there it was, a pink sign on the school entrance that says “Hult Prize on-campus event applications are open!”. I didn’t know what that was, but it looked cool, and I was planning on doing a lot of extracurricular activities so that seemed like a nice start. I told three friends of mine and we decided to participate! Soon after, we’d learn so many things about ideation, starting a business, building a business model, etc. Little did we know that we would be the event winners and soon be heading to London for the regional finals! (I’ll get to that experience on the next question)

Tunisia Nationals.jpg

Fast forward a year later, 2018, I decide not to participate, but to organize the event in my school. I took care of the media department and appeared on more than 12 media platforms including national television to talk about the Hult Prize! on 2017, only 4 Tunisian universities hosted a HP event, 2018, the number jumped to 19 universities! I’d like to believe it was thanks to us! I even toured many Tunisian universities in different regions of the country to introduce them to the Hult Prize and talk about my experience as a regional finalist!31899133_191299088160708_5296109574103760896_n.jpg

After the on-campus event ended, I decided to apply to the wildcard because why not! We ended up getting accepted and headed to San Francisco for my second regional two years in a row! Coming back to Tunis, I was also the media director and host for the Tunis regional that took place a week after SFs finals! That was my 3rd regional event in just two years of college! I believe I made a record!

My final involvement with Hult was the Tunisia National Event which I also helped organize.

How has this experience changed you?

I can’t put in words how much Hult has changed me. In each regional, I made new friends, real friends, a Japanese friend I made in London even visited me from Tokyo and we spent this spring break together touring Tunisia! Hult helped shape me into the woman I am today. I now know what it takes to be a social entrepreneur, what it takes to start your own business, I know how to network, how to pitch my idea and most importantly, I got to know and discover a new part of me.hult spirit.jpg

What were the judges, mentors and advisors like?

Everyone involved with Hult was extremely helpful. We were offered help from so many people. Judges in our on campus event last year offered to help us prepare for the regionals after we won, we had great mentors and advisors who supported us along the way.

Did anyone stand out?

Definitely! Last year’s event, a judge [Youssef Fennira, CEO of Tunisian startup CORP] liked our idea so much that he invited us to his office and with whom I’m personally still in touch with. He sponsored our trip to London, offered us support, and he still recommends me for other opportunities and even offered me a job at his company!SF Tunis .jpeg nationals bootcamp.jpg

During the 2018 hp, Julie Abrams definitely stood out! She was so cheerful and came to talk to us after we lost. We really appreciated that.

What advice do I have for other people?

Join the movement! I have been to so many similar events and competitions, nothing was like the hult prize. The Hult spirit and atmosphere is incomparable! You never know what kind of amazing friends you’d meet, whether it’s a local competition, national or regional! It’s never a dull moment with the Hult Prize! So participate, I promise you you’ll learn so many things about yourself and about social good. You’d enjoy every part of making an impact and making a difference in the world!

28947823_1124501341024909_3832057830808294096_o.jpg this years winners.jpg

25360480_1540300726045519_1712494010_n.jpg Hult Prize at TBS.jpg National competition.jpg

 

Global Summit of Women – Building an Inclusive Economy in the Digital Age

27729025245_3a09604e6f_o

Building an Inclusive Economy in the Digital Age

In late 2015 I received information about the Global Summit of Women (GSW) from a colleague at Capgemini. Although I’ve been involved with organizations that support advancement and development of women professionals for many years, I’d never heard of this one before. My first reaction was I needed to be more aware of international programs like this.

irene-good

Seeking more information and a better understanding of the potential of this organization I checked out the website and was very impressed. The breadth of geographical areas represented and the backgrounds of participants were unbelievable. Not only did I want to attend but I identified a panel on addressing the skills gap in the digital age, where I knew I could make a contribution. I immediately reached out to Irene Natividad, President of Global Summit of Women to introduce myself and offer my service. I wound up attending the 2016 Summit, served as a panelist, and came away forever changed.

Wonderful welcome as you arrive at the Global Summit of Women

Writing about the experience hardly conveys the impact it had on me. At least this blog will provide an idea of how meaningful this annual event is and hopefully encourage more of you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly global environment of friendship and support.

Each year the Summit is held on a different continent. Brazil hosted the 25th anniversary program in 2015. In 2016 the location was Warsaw, Poland. In 2017 it will convene in Tokyo, Japan. Over 1200 women from 95 different countries participated. The purpose was well described in Irene’s welcoming letter:

27209710714_d49545031f_z

“The Summit’s goal of providing a global forum in which exchanges of effective strategies forged by women in all three sectors of society- government, business or civil society- continues to be timely and much needed.“

“The 2016 theme- Women- Building an Inclusive Economy in the Digital Age– spotlights women’s influence in creating stronger economies in this era of new technologies.”

Speakers at the opening ceremony included:

Beata Szudlo, Prime Minister of Poland

Dnag Th Ngox Thinh, VP of Vietnam

Laimdota Straujuma, Former Prime Minister of Latvia

president-kosovo

Honored to meet Atifete Jahjaga, Former President of Kosovo.

The two days of the Summit start with a few plenary sessions in the morning followed by breakout sessions featuring 3 different tracks: Leadership Development, Entrepreneurship, and Issues. One of the plenary sessions on the first day was a Male CEO Forum- Defining an Equitable Workplace. Moderated by Lisa Kassenaar, Editor of Global Diversity for Bloomberg News, the panelists were:

  • Manfred Bischoff, Chair of the Board, Daimler (Germany)
  • Michel Khalaf, Presdient, EMEA Metlife (UAE)
  • Alastair Teare, CEO, Deloitte Central Europe (U.K.)
  • Marco Vilaa, President-Technip, Region EMIA (Italy)
  • Slawomir Sikora, CEO, Citi Handlowy (Poland)

27228421034_742c14e97f_m

The insights these world leaders shared displayed their commitment to working across countries and boundaries of diverse thinking.

27227079413_6edcc6d55f_o-1

As I shared earlier, I was a panelist for one of the Issues breakout sessions: Bringing More Women Into Tech Careers in the Digital Age. The topic resonated with me as it’s an issue I’ve been working on for years and was looking forward to sharing my perspective with my fellow panelists, Claudine Schmuck, Founder of Global Contact (France) and Katarzyna Majewska, Head of Operations & Technology, Citi Handlowy (Poland). Our moderator Gloria Lorenzo, Senior Director of Software Development for Oracle in Spain, was a master at brining our ideas alive on the stage. Gloria described the panel as follows:

27629291752_68c00a46f7_m

“I learned a lot from three women on my panel. Sheryl Chamberlain, share her experience at Capgemini and her role as Head of Hult Prize Foundation Council. Claudine Schmuck, shared the results of her investigation through Global Contact plus some of the initiatives she is supporting in France and Katarzyna Majewska and her work in a big company like CIO Group and the challenges she has to find good IT girls. All women shared the same goal, to bring more women to STEM. During a short conversation we learned a lot and got very good tips to progress in our own work or to even to progress together. It was a unique opportunity to connect all the work done in different fields”

27116690074_d87fb288c1_m

For me, the perspectives each of us brought to the discussion where inspiring, but more importantly the audience agreed to take action as we returned to our day jobs, at home in our respective countries.

There was a lot of content to absorb in just a few short days. I wish sessions had been recorded since the breakout format meant we were always missing what was happening in the other breakout rooms. But, then the Summit was about so much more than the meetings. It was an opportunity to connect with a remarkable group of women coming from wildly different backgrounds, all committed to make the world a better place by working together.

tame-women-on-stairs

One of my new ‘sisters’ is Claudia Freed, CEO & President of EAL Green. EAL stands for Empower Access to Learning. In other words- it provides scholarships. The “Green” refers to how they get the money. They collect excess inventory from major companies (which otherwise would go into landfill), providing sorely needed equipment and supplies to universities at little or no cost, and providing scholarships for students in need. Claudine’s been doing this for over 20 years. This Summit was her second. What made it worth her while to attend?

gloria-and-us

“I believe it has been an important milestone in my career to be committed to participate in these and other global-scale purpose- driven networking convenings. I want to help improve the world.

“….the most important takeaway is the re-affirmation that relationships take time and that they are invaluable asset not easily replaced with technology or digital communication.”

photo-japan-closing-ceremony

In 2017 the Global Summit for Women will be held in Japan May 11-13. I already have it on my calendar. I hope to see some of you there.

Boldness & Creativity, Drivers of Success For Women

Women Large

In recognition of my passion for supporting and promoting the advancement of women in business and technology, and of my leadership role in this capacity within our firm, I was asked by Isabelle Roux-Chenu Founder Women@Capgemini and Group General Counsel to organize an event that would present a panel of women leaders discussing the importance of making bold choices to achieve success in business.  It was an honor to be asked to do this and the event was held at Capgemini’s corporate headquarters in Tilsitt, Paris on July 7, 2015.  Isabelle was the host and together we moderated the panel discussion.  The panelists were successful women executives and leaders representing diverse cultural, generational, and professional backgrounds and experiences.  They were:

  • Hélène Barnekow, CEO Sweden at TeliaSonera
  • Nutan Wozencroft, Chief Financial Officer at UNESCO
  • Katherine Corich, Global CEO & Founder of Sysdoc Group
  • Aurélie Sykes-Darmon founding member of WoMen’Up

Each panelist was asked to discuss the challenges she has faced in her professional and personal journey and the bold actions she sometimes needed to take to address those challenges.  The result was a fascinating discussion filled with useful and practical insights, some commonalities, and a mutual understanding of each woman’s unique path.

The audience

Challenges across cultures and generations  

Hélène explained her perspective on the power and impact of more diverse teams. She stated that “in today’s digital world anything can be replicated. To differentiate yourself in the market companies need to ensure they have leadership teams with diverse perspectives thereby instilling fertile ground to drive innovation solutions, cultivating collaboration, and delivering new levels of success”. Recently promoted from Chief Commercial Officer to CEO of TeliaSonera Sweden, Hélène discussed some of the bold steps she has taken to transform her teams by including more women and requiring that at least one woman be included on every short list when recruiting managers. Now, as CEO, she can ensure her vision is implemented more broadly across the organization.

Students

Nutan shared her experience of cultural and social obstacles as a woman of Indian origin born in Austria and educated in England. She chose to follow an unconventional career path with the intent to broaden her skills, beginning as a trainee accountant at a medium-sized firm to gain experience in many types of enterprises and different areas of finance. Frequently finding herself to be the only female and the only ethnic minority in the room, Nutan realized that it was important to define her own working style. Following a long stint as a Financial Controller of a large international charity, she worked as a consultant focusing on strategic planning and change management, impacting countries like Malawi, Kenya, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and South Africa.

GWLN Sisters

When Katherine started working, she found very few role models to provide guidance. About the time she was starting her own business, she decided she wanted to get a pilot’s license. She was told that women couldn’t be pilots. [This was at a time when women did not become pilots.] Rather than give in to that view, she used her own money to learn what it takes to manage a plane and what is required for being a great pilot ultimately becoming a licensed commercial pilot. Key to both: a structure that enabled the pilot to systematically make sure the plane was in good flying condition and all appropriate steps were done prior to takeoff. Katherine used that sense of order to convince her boss to improve their risk management procedures at the London Stock Exchange. She went on to create her own consulting firm – Sysdoc Group, which now has a consultant reach in over 72 countries. Katherine brought that kind of orderliness to her business, implementing policies that provided guidance and creating a healthy environment to empower her employees. She finds these practices are in line with the younger generation’s expectations and are in fact attracting more male employees.

Atlanta

Aurélie shared her thoughts from the point of view of a young woman working as a consultant in the television industry and an active member of WoMen’Up. WoMen’Up is an organization that deals with gender balance issues within the corporate world from the point of view of “Gen Y” or “Millennials” – the generation of people born in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Based on a survey titled “What do men think?” taken by WoMen’Up in partnership with the consulting group Mazars, she explained that “Millennials” have long been exposed to gender balance issues and are thus much more favorably included to having women in the corporate world and working with diverse teams.

021A0229

Closing the discussion, Katherine reminded all women to know their personal and professional worth and to negotiate their careers with confidence based on this knowledge. And Nutan added: “It was interesting to see that, despite our different backgrounds and cultures, we  (as women leaders) upheld common principles.  I feel strongly that as women in position of influence we must think about the policies and management ethos that we promote and whether they limit access. Being a role model is good, but we really need women leaders that advance the cause for ordinary women.”

Women Large 2

The question for senior women leaders is- What can you do to support other women to be successful in whatever they choose to do? As for male leaders- What can you do to raise awareness of and reduce subtle biases that hinder advancement of women in your organization and elsewhere?  In case you’d like some guidance, here are some useful resources:

Shape Your Mobile & Cloud Strategy Join Me @VMworld Barcelona

 Barcelona-Spain-8-480x317

VMworld Europe will bring together individuals and entities from 92 different nations to share and compare the latest in virtualization technology developments, innovations, solutions, and directions. Since technology adoption varies from country to country, it will be interesting to learn how the adoption and implementation of VMware technology and products affects organizations virtualization data center transformation strategies and their journey to the hybrid cloud.

Vmworld 2014

This is my 10th VMworld all of them in fabulous cities including San Francisco, Cannes, and Copenhagen. This spring I joined Capgemini from EMC to lead our partnership with the EMC Federation of companies; EMC II, VMware, Pivotal, and RSA. Moving from a product company to a services organization has been a big change for me, a good one for all, and one that brings trusted relationships and a shared vision for what is possible for our partnership and customers.

2010EMCWorldvSpec

VMworld is an important event for Capgemini’s collaboration with VMware.  There are three major strategic initiatives for our partnership: 1. Software defined data center (SDDC) with Service Integration, 2. SAP Hana on vSphere, and 3. Enterprise Mobility (AirWatch). A few key points about these strategic initiatives and the impact to our partnership and customers from Patrick Nicolet Capgemini CEO Infrastructure Services and Group Board Member:

Patrick Nicolet Capgemini CEO Infrastructure Services and Group Board Member @VMorld San Francisco 2014

Software Defined Data Center – Service Integration

Service Integration helps clients remove the complexity of IT transformation through the aggregation of services orchestration and management capabilities.  In 2013, Capgemini established our services integration partnership with VMware through the executive sponsorship of Pat Gelsinger (VMware CEO) and Patrick Nicolet (Capgemini CEO Infrastructure Services and Group Board Member).  Both are visionaries and committed to co-innovation, having had the forethought to  develop our first  offering, Services Integration founded on VMware’s ITBM technology and Capgemini customer knowledge and intimacy. This offering resulted in Capgemini receiving 2 awards this year: VMware’s Consulting and Integration Partner of the Year, and Hybrid Cloud Innovation joint award with one of our clients at vForum in Paris on June 4 2014. 

 

Harish Rao Capgemini Infrastructure Services CTO discusses managing enabling servces orchestration @VMworld 2014

SAP Hana on vSphere

In May of 2014, as part of Pat Gelsinger’s keynote presentation at EMC World,  Patrick Nicolet announced another level of our partnership: a three-way go to market play with VMware and SAP for the deployment of Hana in highly virtualized environments.  In June, in recognition of its outstanding contributions as an SAP partner, Capgemini received a 2014 SAP® Pinnacle award as the SAP HANA® Adoption Partner of the Year. SAP Pinnacle awards are presented annually to the top SAP partners that have excelled in developing and growing their partnership with SAP and driving customer success.  

Cindy Borgman Capgemini VP Infrastructure Services Global Operations, SAP Business discusses partnership with SAP and VMware and the value for customers

Enterprise Mobility with AirWatch

Building on a foundation of earlier successes, on September 9th Capgemini and VMware announced the expansion of our strategic partnership centered around enterprise mobility management and end-user computing, More specifically, the partnership allows us to leverage AirWatch’s Enterprise Managed Mobility solution as we bundle it with our Mobile Solutions service offerings.  At VMworld Barcelona you will have a chance to hear from Fernando Alaverz, Capgemini Senior Vice President and Head of the Mobile Solutions Global Service Line.  Fernando has said, “For Capgemini, the bigger picture includes positioning its mobile divisions around the internet of things and corresponding data and analytics, which he called “the next big thing.”  So don’t miss Fernando’s keynote at VMworld on Wednesday, October 16th at 16:30.

 Barcelona-Spain-3-480x360

Now in its third consecutive year in Barcelona, VMworld offers an attractive venue to bring together diverse cultures for sharing, comparing, and collaboration.  Barcelona is a city rich in culture and history, offering a picturesque waterfront site to stimulate minds and imaginations alike. 

Join me and the leadership team of Capgemini in Barcelona where we are once again proud and honored to be a VMworld CIP (Consulting & Integration Partner) Platinum sponsor.

Learn more about disruptions and innovations with partners in this video with Lanny Cohen, Capgemini Corporate Chief Technology Officer.