Wednesday January 29, 2020

6 on 6 -Leaders’ questions and answers

Hannah O'Brien asks six leaders in tech six questions

1st December, 2019
7

1. What can be learned from the Zuckerberg/Facebook debacle?

2. What has been the most disruptive force in tech in the last ten years?

3. Are you happy or worried about how tech-focused the world has become?

4. What is Ireland's biggest asset in relation to tech?

5. What advice would you give your younger self?

6. Name a leader in tech you most respect/would like to emulate?

Lorna Martyn, Head of Technology with Fidelity Ireland

1.Technology is a powerful enabler driving both business capability and social connectivity. Inventors need to consider the ethical aspects of how their invention may be used.

2.The combination of Big Data, compute power and connectivity are, in my opinion, the most significant drivers of disruption in the last ten years.

3. As a technologist, I am optimistic about how technology is enabling positive advances in all areas of life from medicines and healthcare to environmental monitoring, to social benefits such as the use of technology to potentially provide practical support to an ageing global population.

4. Ireland provides the perfect Goldilocks landscape for technology - large enough to be relevant on the global stage but small enough to navigate and provide a safe environment to experiment, evidenced by the number of start-ups.

5. As a young engineer, I was very slow to speak up and share my perspective, driven by a lack of confidence and being deferential to the hierarchy. I would encourage anyone in workforce regardless of the industry you are in to use your voice and not be afraid to share your ideas or speak about your achievements.

6. My perfect tech leader would be a combination of the creative vision of Jeff Bezos, the storytelling ability of the late Steve Jobs, the courage to campaign for equality demonstrated by Sheryl Sandberg and the empathy and drive for inclusion demonstrated by Steve Neff, Fidelity's former chief technology officer and now head of Asset Management.

Coral Movasseli, managing director of Girls in Tech Dublin

1. Facebook has these issues because we’ve created a system and environment for it to operate as such. Companies need to lead by values to be sustainable and productive members of our society. And we need to hold them to this standard.

2. The most disruptive force in technology is artificial intelligence. That’s not to take away from VR/AR, drones or blockchain. They are all leading technologies that will continue to shape our lives, but AI is more disruptive because we are essentially teaching computers to think on their own.

3. Technology in and of itself is not new, it’s digital technology that is emerging. We have a massive conundrum whereby modern technology enabled us to transition out of agrarian societies in the 20th century with the advancement of electrical and mechanical technology. We’ve also brought ourselves closer to our own self-inflicted demise. The building of sustainable and responsible businesses using technology is what keeps me optimistic.

4. Hands down, it’s the people. Ireland holds an abundance of a youthful and English-speaking population. People are the nation's biggest commodity and, if tapped properly, the ticket to a more prosperous Ireland.

5. Hear your gut. Take time to reflect on yourself. Be your glorious self. And slow down to get far - I couldn’t wait to conquer the world, but life trajectories are not linear. Which means you can take detours, and that’s okay.

6. The people I’ve learnt the most from are not today’s conquerors but people in the history books. One person that comes to mind is John D Rockefeller Sr. He believed that “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar and I pay more for that commodity than any other under the sun”. He understood the value of people in driving a business before it became a buzzword.

Niall Twomey, chief technology officer, Fenergo

1. I think you need to have your principles in place first and be upfront about them. While giants like Facebook will get the headlines and government attention, the principles and ethical lines here are just as important for companies of any size, and the consequences can be far worse for the smaller companies.

2. From an individual perspective, the shift to mobile has been huge over the last ten years. So much of the way we interact with technology services that were once tied to desktops is now mobile-based.

3. The sheer access to the quantity of data and tools that anyone can pick up and use is incredible and has put us in a place where some of the most creative people can add value to the world and do immense good.

4. The talent and experience of the people. We have a strong education system that produces smart and eager people ideal for the tech space and the critical mass of tech companies that allow people to move, grow and develop throughout their careers. That in turn attracts more business and people with the expertise into the country, so it is virtuous cycle.

5. I would probably say to myself to be radically open-minded, carry fewer assumptions with you, and grab more opportunities to experience different types of roles early in your career.

6. I’d have to say Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella. He took such a large monolith of the industry and transformed its culture in only a few years to one of enablement, making it possible for the smallest of customers to access powerful tools and resources.

Dani Michaux, partner and head of cyber security, KPMG

1. Over the past few months we have seen bigger requirements for transparency and accountability in relation to privacy and cyber security. Organisations around the globe and their executives are being held to account for data and privacy breaches, and there is even more focus on ensuring that security and privacy are built within the design and also broader ecosystems and supply chains.

2. I would say connectivity (from 3, 3.5G to 5G), mobile phones and social media, and the ability to reach billions of people around the world.

3. No, I am not worried about how tech-focused the world has become, as long as technology continues to be used in positive ways.

4. The people – Ireland’s biggest asset for tech is having the youngest population in Europe as well as a unique entrepreneurial spirit and R&D focus.

5. Be curious, keep learning and re-learning, don’t be afraid to take risks, explore the new tech world and make bold choices, travel and be a global citizen.

6. Elon Musk and Jack Ma - people from completely different backgrounds, but who shaped the world in different ways.

Niall Campion, managing director and co-founder, VRAI

1. We operate a triple-bottom-line method of measuring business success. You must measure not just your profit but also how you affect people and the planet to consider yourself a successful business. I feel like Zuckerberg is too focused on the former at the expense of the other two, and people are increasingly not willing to accept that.

2. Leftfield choice perhaps, but for me battery tech driven by mobile phones. It's what is allowing us to develop electric vehicles and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which will ultimately, hopefully, save the planet.

3. I'm not sure if I'd agree that the world has become 'tech-focused'. As a species, we've always relied on innovations to drive us forward. I guess the difference now is that the 'tech' is consolidated amongst a handful of large companies. I think this is a concern.

4. Our openness, flexibility and accessibility. Ultimately, if you have an idea and you want to talk to someone about it, you can generally get to them reasonably easily.

5. Study to be a data scientist.

6. In terms of putting the customer experience at the centre of everything he did and developing products that exceed their expectations, probably Steve Jobs.

Vicky Twomey-Lee, co-founder, Coding Grace

1. Anyone who works in the tech industry should be more aware of how their innovative technologies will be used to affect people's lives, and especially how information is disseminated, and not support hate and discriminatory groups/individuals.

2. How technology created the gig economy, and how some working in tech and not directly working with the people affected feel it's not their problem.

3. Kind of both, being connected with family and friends brings us closer which is great. It is a two-edged sword though, we should be concerned over how all our information is handled.

4. In my opinion the grassroots tech community itself.

5. Don't be afraid, go and do it. Take a chance. So what if it doesn't work out?

6. I've a lot of peers I admire, but the one person right now has to be Brenda Romero.

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