Tag Archives: Social Change

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


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.


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:


“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


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)


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


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:


“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”


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.


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?


“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.”


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.

Student Innovation: Changing the World

Hult Prize Inspires Cross Cultural Leaders to Unite While Building Communities of Social Change

Students Kick Off The Day

Students Kick Off The Day

Can we build a social healthcare enterprise that serves the needs of 25 million slum dwellers suffering from chronic diseases by 2019?  This was the Challenge put forth by President Clinton and Hult Prize to students from around the world.  The Hult Prize is a global competition and start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people.

President Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton at Hult Prize Finals 2013

More than 11,000 applications were received, but only 300 start-ups selected to present ideas to judges at the 6 regional competitions held this past weekend (March 7-8, 2014) in Boston, Dubai, London, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Shanghai.  Although inspired by the experience of responding to this challenge, students are also motivated by the award of $1,000,000 in seed capital to the winners, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community in an intensive six-week Social Enterprise Accelerator held at IXL-Center in Boston.

Faces of Students

Faces of Students at Final Judging in San Francisco

A key part of the story, and the power of Hult Prize is answering the social enterprise challenge each year impacting the world, this year seeking solutions to improve chronic disease healthcare in slums.  Another part of the story is about the effect and gratification of being a judge.

The Judges

The Judges Team 2, Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO Matternet; Chris Stacy, Director IDEO, Sheryl Chamberlain, EMC; Lacy Caruthers, Principal Google;  Chris S. Thomas, Chief Strategist Intel

The judges are a diverse group of people from the ranks of corporate CXOs, non-profit leaders and social entrepreneurs.  When they participate as judges they join an extensive community established by Hult Prize and their partners:  Hult International Business School, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and IXL Center.  Many of us have never met before, yet we come together as a working team at the regional championships.  In total approximately 1,200 entrepreneurs spend an estimated 1.4 Million Man Hours on Hult Prize.  Each of us is changed forever by being instrumental in helping to launch the next wave of social entrepreneurs.

Aspire, Hult Prize 2013 winning team from Canada's McGill University

Aspire, Hult Prize 2013 winning team from Canada’s McGill University

Last year I participated in the Boston regionals where the Challenge was to end world hunger. At the time, the United Nations estimated over 870 Million people in the urban slums are uncertain of food sustainability.  The 2013 Hult Prize winning team from McGill University, now a start-up posed to tackle this challenge head-on, was team Aspire. Their game changing idea?  Insects (see my blog Cricket Flour Power Wins 2013 Hult Prize).

Judges Team 3, The Winning Team

Judges Team 3, The Winning Team

This year I was local, participating in the San Francisco regionals, with a group of 25 judges separated into 4 groups.  Each group spent the day listening to pitches and deliberating as a team to select a group winner.  Then all of us together, competitive, rowdy, and filled with passion agreed on the regional champion, MIT’s Wi Care.  Their start-up concept – the Wound Pump. When left untreated wounds can become infected lead to death.  This is true everywhere in the world, but especially in the slums.  It will be interesting to see how their winning idea matures and flourishes after they spend the summer at the Hult Prize Accelerator in Boston.

MIT Wi-Care

San Francisco Regionals Winning Team:  MIT Wi Care

So you have a good sense of what it is like to be a judge I asked my fellow judges to share a quote about their personal experience. Team 3, MIT’s Wi Care was the winning idea.

Team 1 UPenn Nexus

Kate O'Keefe Cisco, Dorian Stone McKinsey, Terri Mandel BioMedLink

Kate O’Keefe Cisco, Dorian Stone McKinsey, Terry Mandel BioMedLink

The Nexus team’s plan is aimed at providing cheap but first-world quality drugs to slum dwellers by (1) remotely diagnosing underserved slum dwellers via SMS, and (2) redirecting currently wasted near-expiration drugs from the U.S. and selling it at low cost to local clinics.  Terry Mandel, colleague, friend, healthcare leader, and CEO BioMedlink, “While their proposals covered a wide range of ideas, viability, and market readiness, the teams universally displayed a passion for, and commitment to, reducing human suffering through sustainable business innovation. I found out later that the UPenn team we advanced for their plan to stock Indian health clinics with first-world pharmaceutical drug “waste” comprised all undergraduates! Like the other teams, they were keen for feedback and mentoring to move their idea towards proof of concept.”

Team 2, My Team Monterey Institute of International Studies (one of many all women teams)

Monterey Institute of International Studies

Monterey Institute of International Studies

This all women team impressed me through their focus on solving high blood pressure, by targeting remittances and creating a partnership with local community healthcare workers. A two fold idea creating jobs while solving the issues associated with high blood pressure. I asked Chris S. Thomas who was the judge quote king for the day, succinctly summarizing each pitch with a pithy quote, for his impressions. At the end of the experience:  “Incredible rapid fire pipeline of quality ideas and innovative teams.  It was like “Speed Dating 4 Innovation” with the judges arguing over who to take home.”  Chris S. Thomas 
Chief Strategist 
Director of Architecture 
World Ahead 
Intel Corporation.

Team 3, the WinningTeam MIT Wi Care

Markus Fromherz, Xerox Chief Innovation Officer, Healthcare

Markus Fromherz, Xerox Chief Innovation Officer, Healthcare

Markus Fromherz, the Xerox Chief Innovation Officer, Healthcare said, “The MIT team demonstrated unusual insight and commitment to their chosen problem, open-wound care. The solution included not just a novel, safer, and easier-to-use device with proven business model based on their field work, but also addressed aspects like the local manufacturability and care-giver training to make this a successful social enterprise.”

Team 4 Hult International Business School

Hult International Business School

Hult International Business School

Introducing Hult at the regional finals was Kate O’Keefe, Chief Innovation Officer at Cisco.  Talking about powerful women committed to changing the world, Kate a recent Sydney/Bay Area transplant received standing applause, during her deliberations.

Kate O'Keefe Cisco, Hitendra Patel Ph.D, Managing Director of the IXL Center

Kate O’Keefe Chief Innovation Officer, Cisco; Hitendra Patel Ph.D, Managing Director of the IXL Center

“It was a privilege to be a judge for the Hult Prize, to be involved for just a moment in the incredible journey these social entrepreneurs from schools all over the world have been on… What impressed me most was that none of these teams were there to build businesses to enrich themselves – they were all there to enrich the lives of the world’s poor through addressing chronic illness.” Kate O’Keefe, Cisco.

Mike Leisher, GM GE Healthcare; Liz Maw, CEO Netimpact; Hugh Molotsti,VP Intuit Labs; Ki

Mike Leisher, GM GE Healthcare; Liz Maw, CEO Netimpact; Hugh Molotsti,VP Intuit Labs

Recounting the entire day’s experience, Hugh Molotsi, Vice President, Intuit Labs Incubator at Intuit.   “It was a long day rewarding day with lots of impressive teams.  MIT’s Wi Care team came out on top but I hope many other teams keep going.”  Fellow judge and blogger Shahid Kahn Innovation Evangelist & Coach at PayPal said, “One thing that lit my fire is that these young women and men could empathize with the poor living in slums, while they are from a completely different background. Check Shahid Khan’s blog on the Hult San Francisco Regionals.  Lacy Caruthers, Principal at Google said:   “The Hult Prize excels at finding and supporting the best and brightest entrepreneurs globally. I was blown away by the creativity and drive of the teams here, and look forward to seeing many of these ideas in action.”

Hitendra Patel, Ph.D. Managing Director of the IXL Center, Professor of Innovation & Growth, Hult IBS

Hitendra Patel, Ph.D. Managing Director of the IXL Center, Professor of Innovation & Growth, Hult IBS

After the program I had a chance to catch up with Hitendra Patel, Ph.D and Managing Director of the IXL Center.  Hitendra and Ron Jonash Senior Partner at the IXL Center both Hult International Business School Faculty wrote the Challenge in partnership with CGI and Hult. Hitendra said, the students answer the challenge completely on their own, and offered us a Challenge to work with the students, so they too can incubate their idea.

Sheryl Chamberlain Hult Prize San Francisco Judge
Sheryl Chamberlain Hult Prize San Francisco Judge

So, how are you going to change the world?  Is the time right for you to work with the students, and help them on this amazing journey? I invite you to join our community committed to social innovation and entrepreneurship.  Together, I am confident we can make a difference. Learn more about this year’s regional winners at Hult Prize 2014 Six Finalists and look for my post on the Hult Prize finals coming this September. 

the tent