Panel: Women in Innovation

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At Live Innovation Lab we are always looking to celebrate inspirational women innovators, which is why we were excited to start 2020 with “Women in Innovation Panel” at Google Isar Valley. On March 5th we hosted a panel to showcase and celebrate women who are at the forefront of driving innovation around the world, in commemoration of the “Women’s International Day”.

Around seventy participants joined us in celebrating female voices in innovation. The panel was an exchange about what female innovators are doing to change the world today, share their experiences, inspire future leaders and to remember the groundbreaking women that paved our way.

During the panel, we discovered more about the journeys of women leaders in STEM, Business, Media, Art, Entrepreneurship and Social innovation.

Our panelists included different perspectives of industry professionals on the topic of Innovation who are paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive future. We had an empty chair for men in the audience that wanted to share his opinion, we wanted to give them the opportunity to be heard and try to feel how most of women feel when they are the minority and have to stand up and take the seat.

Despite barriers, there are many incredible women who are already moving for diversity across sectors. We were glad and honored to have five innovative female leaders as panelist and many attendees to spoke how to empower women and achieve gender equality.

Panelist Bio’s

From innovation to customer experience design Silke Sasano knows how to bring ideas to life and help them thrive successfully and sustainably, she gained her experience in 50+ innovation projects – from strategy development to minimal viable products and services. Silke loves to discover new customer values and stands for human-centered design, innovation, and customer-centricity. She co-founded three startups and brings entrepreneurial background and drive, courage and curiosity for that; which is new and different

Silke is Principal Key Expert Design Thinking at Siemens Healthineers, co-lecturer for Business Innovation at the University of St. Gallen and a recognized speaker on international innovation conferences. In addition to her interdisciplinary studies in psychology, medicine and education at the University of Vienna, she holds an ACE in Management, Technology, and Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Rossella Falcone, a physicist by profession and a spacewoman by heart, in her role as Ground Data System Manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) coordinates different space agencies working towards the launch of the next satellites of the European Navigation Satellite System “Galileo”.

Throughout her career she has worked on international and innovative projects such as, for example, the mitigation of space pollution (Space Debris), a core value of space exploration and a prominent topic of the sustainable space industry.

Rossella has a Ph.D. in Theoretical High Energy Physics. Through her scientific studies, she also explored the topics of Quantum Teleportation and Quantum Chromodynamics. In addition, she was a scientific visitor at the Rudolf Peierls Center for Theoretical Physics in Oxford, UK.

At a very young age, Cecilia Chiolerio has already made her mark in Innovation. Involved in startups like Solvemate and Westwing she developed a strong acumen in innovation that led her to pursue an entrepreneurship venture – Twostay.work to reinvent co-working. Today, the startup is named among the most innovative concepts in the property tech industry.

Damla Obermeir‘s main driver is identifying, implementing and fostering innovation structures within companies. With an Electrical Engineering degree under her belt and after several years as a software developer, she realized classic company structures hinder the evolvement of innovation. Her experience allowed her to quickly identify high-performing and creative teams as a key factor of successful innovation.

To foster this core value, personally and team-wise, she became a Scrum Master and has introduced agile ways of working in the field of autonomous driving at BMW in the last years. Her holistic approach, which combines positive psychology with agile methodologies, has helped teams excel and surpass expectations.

Damla is currently working on pursuing an Executive MBA in Innovation and Business Creation at the Technical University of Munich.

Jarazet Altamirano has been developing and implementing innovative frameworks and strategies in start-ups, as well as, in Fortune 500 companies in North America and Europe. Redefining the connection between Innovation Management, Agile Leadership, and Digital Marketing is something that she constantly does! As an Innovation Champion, she is always ideating and creating new frameworks and environments whereby agility and innovation can easily be fostered. As a result of this, she has co-created the Playnnovation™ Framework and co-founded several Innovation initiatives in the for-profit and the nonprofit sector, such as Live Innovation Lab. She is on a mission to democratize innovation to build the next generation of organizations through purpose-driven innovation, agility, and human connection.

We hope that the exchange of their innovator’s journey, experiences and perspectives, inspire the attendees to create a more diverse and inclusive future, as you know an equal world is an enabled world.

During the panel we discussed about the strengths a woman has to drive innovation, the misconceptions people have about women in innovation and how can we combat these misconceptions and communicate more effectively.

One of the reasons that women often get overlooked, besides good old-fashioned sexism, is that there are vast misconceptions about what makes someone a good innovator. Often, we imagine the best innovators to be like Steve Jobs–brash, aggressive and domineering–when actually just the opposite is true. We asked the panelist: what defines an innovator?, what are the characteristics that drive an innovator to success? The panelist gave us valuable tips based on their experience how to drive innovation:

  • Be open minded
  • Connection builder
  • Find your passion
  • Be courageous, say yes to things and figure out how after
  • Connect and be authentic
  • Think what you bring is unique, no one else has your story, background and skill set.

others takeaways were:

  • Self-confidence has to be trained and it can be done from early age, Rosella told us how her father used to tell her that she doesn’t need to wait for a prince, she is a prince and she is able to do everything.
  • Be the nice as long as it is possible but when things are not working out make it clear and stand for your opinion- Silke.
  • There are moments where you need to be harder or you don’t get your point through -Damla
  • Stay there even if it’s hard and it’s getting hard! You need to reframe, find new perspective. Find a picture that is reassuring and help you change your perspective- Silke
  • Look for diversity everywhere, in your daily activities, in innovation. Diversity is not exclusive to gender or ethnic, diversity exits in innovation as it is not restricted to a field as technology. Innovation can happens in many ways and it’s up to us how can we foster innovation -Jarazet

We also talked about mentors and how men can be allies, go to them and ask how they did. They can also help us to work on stereotypes. It’s also important to help each other, and take the hand that other people are offering.

Another theme of discussion was some statistics and recent studies about diversity. About 65% of healthcare employees are women, but they make up only 33% of senior executives and 13% of CEOs. The same numbers appear in Learning & Development (L&D), which seems a “female-oriented career” but research shows women are twice as likely as men to have administrative support roles – and half as likely to have leadership positions – in L&D as men. And this pattern just keeps repeating across industries. So, it seems that while more women are working within innovative industries, less women are leaders within these industries.

Awareness for inclusion and diversity is on the rise. As shown in different studies conducted by McKinsey in the last five years, which covered close to 600 companies in a variety of countries and industries. It was found that gender diversity is correlated with both profitability and value creation. A positive correlation between gender diversity on executive teams and financial performance: top-quartile companies on executive-level gender diversity worldwide had a 21 percent likelihood of outperforming their fourth-quartile industry peers on EBIT margin, and they also had a 27 percent likelihood of outperforming fourth-quartile peers on longer-term value creation, as measured using an economic-profit margin.  Commitment to gender diversity has increased significantly. Today 87% of the companies are highly committed to gender diversity, compared to 56 % in 2012, when McKinsey first conducted similar study on the state of women at work. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/women-in-the-workplace-2019

Links to other statics about the benefits of diversity and inclusion: https://blog.bonus.ly/diversity-inclusion-statistics

“A recent study by BCG suggests that increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance.” BCG looked at 1,700 different companies across 8 different countries, with varying industries and company sizes. The study found that increasing diversity directly impacts the bottom line. In fact, the report found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation”. https://lnkd.in/gnuvHrX (https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/17/how-2020-can-be-a-tipping-point-for-women-in-stem/)

Over the past few decades, there have been many efforts to increase diversity in organizations. Unfortunately, often these are seen more as a matter of political correctness than serious management initiatives (https://www.inc.com/greg-satell/why-we-need-women-to-have-a-larger-role-in-innovation.html). Although gender quotas make an impact, senior management remains overwhelmingly male. Even with successes there is a long way to go, it takes time to achieve quotas and culture takes time to change. More entry-level women will rise to management, and more women in management will rise to senior leadership. A more diverse workforce will naturally lead to a more inclusive culture. And when a company’s culture feels fair and inclusive, women and underrepresented groups are happier and more likely to thrive (https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/women-in-the-workplace-2019).

At the end of the panel, we asked attendees to join us in the call to action for International Women’s Day campaign #EachforEqual #IWD2020

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Here are some suggestions on how to enable an equal world: “We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.” “Women’s equality can’t wait. It’s going to take everyone to think and be inclusive – all the time, everywhere.” Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

Men and women are different, and while that is both factual and debatable depending on who you ask, in the workplace those differences should, and can be, celebrated and utilized for innovation and optimization.

LILab believes that the whole point of diversity is to gather minds that think differently, “Too many people thinking, in the same way, leads to blind spots. By having different types of people working together on a problem, you are more likely to identify innovative approaches…”

Don’t forget to join us on MeetupFB, LinkedIn or Instagram to stay up to day about all our upcoming Labs & events…

We believe that the most disruptive innovation can only occur when great and diverse minds meet and get access to proper support to realize their ideas. The participation of women in the innovation ecosystem is crucial to development of work (ideas, products, services) that will truly change the world, not only for these women themselves, but for everyone. Therefore, we are planning to organize a bimonthly Women in Innovation Exchange.

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Get to know our host!

We want to thank the Google Isar Valley team for hosting us.

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