With these leading lights at the helm, the future of work is progressive and has purpose.
What will the brave new world of 2018 mean for the average sci-tech employee? Here are the the people guiding the way towards a new paradigm of work, and changing recruitment, productivity and the workplace as we know it.
After graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in computer science in 2013, Sheree Atcheson quickly become cognisant of how few women were both being recognised and participating in the UK tech industry, and felt inspired to launch the UK wing of Women Who Code in Belfast.
Since then, Atcheson has been appointed the organisation’s UK expansion director, has founded I Am Lanka to promote the achievements of Sri Lanka’s local and global role models, and has generally worked tirelessly to promote gender and racial diversity in tech.
As the founder and CEO of Beyond12, Alex Bernadotte works towards helping low-income students graduate from college. Beyond12 is currently working on ways to quickly identify students most likely to need help using data, so the group can act in time.
Bernadotte, who is a former Inspirefest speaker, is hoping to serve 1m students annually by 2025. She is also an elected member of the Ashoka fellowship, the largest network of leading social entrepreneurs providing system-changing solutions to global social challenges.
With a career spanning more than two decades in marketing, management, sales and (most importantly) HR, Josh Bersin is an important expert to follow for all things related to the future of work.
‘Only eight to 10pc of jobs are actually programming software, building machines and engineering’
– JOSH BERSIN
Bersin founded Bersin by Deloitte, a provider of research-based membership programmes in human resources. He is a global research analyst, public speaker and writer on the future of work, talent management, recruitment, and the intersection between work and life. A major thought leader in the HR space, Bersin has spoken about the misplaced focus on tech-heavy jobs as we prepare for the future of work.
Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer with 20 years’ experience in the biotech industry, founded Black Girls Code in response to the lack of African-American women in STEM “that cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields”.
‘By limiting women in technology we are limiting ourselves to only half of the world’s solutions’
– KIMBERLY BRYANT
Notably, Bryant rejected a grant of $125,000 from Uber, citing the company’s shaky history as reason. She subsequently managed not only to reach but exceed her fundraising targets through individual donations.
Tracy Chou has always used her voice to promote positive change, especially with regard to diversity and inclusion issues in Silicon Valley. Chou has frequently pointed out the lack of reputable data on gender and racial representation within tech behemoths, and has put forward new insights into how the issue can be combated.
‘I had been struck by the hypocrisy of an industry in which the problem of the lack of diversity was an open secret and yet no companies were willing to measure and manage it’
– TRACY CHOU
Chou serves as a founding adviser of Project Include, was listed as one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators under 35, and has overall made it clear that she is refusing to let the flawed status quo in the tech industry prevail.
As the founder of the fast-growing conference series Unleash (formerly known as HR Tech World), Marc Coleman is one of the most influential people on the HR tech scene. Interestingly, his background is in microbiology and events management, but he found his calling in the future of work and jobs. His aim is to help change the system at a higher level, where key decision-makers call the shots.
Prof David Collings has been named as one of the most influential thinkers in the field of HR for four consecutive years by HR magazine, so it’s only natural that he makes the list of those driving the future-of-work narrative.
Collings is the co-director of the Leadership and Talent Institute at Dublin City University, which conducts cutting-edge research across the broad areas of work, with a focus on leadership and talent issues.
Paul Daugherty is Accenture’s chief technology and innovation officer, and has responsibility for driving innovation through R&D activities in Accenture’s Labs. Daugherty is also a passionate advocate for gender equality in the workplace.
‘We don’t believe that we are going to create an uber-human that is going to replace what people do’
– PAUL DAUGHERTY
He is a thought leader in the world of the future of work, particularly when it comes to automation. Like many AI experts, he is a strong believer in AI having a positive impact on the future of work. You can read all about it in his co-authored book, Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, a management guide to artificial intelligence that’s due to be published in early 2018.
Tiffany Dufu has devoted her life to advancing women and girls through her work as chief leadership officer at Levo, a technology company arming millennials with the tools they need to be successful.
Dufu’s book, Drop the Ball, has a simple yet profound message: in order for women to best ‘lean in’, it is essential to relinquish pressure by letting go of unrealistic expectations that can quickly fester and become poisonous, accounting for the endemic stress and exhaustion suffered by the women trying to reach the holy grail of ‘having it all’.
Adrienne Gormley, the VP of customer experience at Dropbox, has always had her finger on the pulse of future-of-work developments, both in Ireland and globally. At Inspirefest 2017, she opened her talk with a rather challenging idea: that ‘productivity’ is a damaging buzzword, and our fixation on it is killing creativity.
‘The way we are working is not working. We are busy being busy about things that grind us down’
– ADRIENNE GORMLEY
A theoretical neuroscientist, technologist and entrepreneur, Dr Vivienne Ming is a very impressive woman. Her career path has taken many twists and turns, making her extremely knowledgeable in multiple fields, while her personal journey of gender transition has made her an incredibly strong advocate for different perspectives.
Ming is adviser to a number of companies in the world of work, including Shiftgig and Orzo, so she is definitely steering the future of work in the right direction when it comes to diversity and inclusion. She gave a masterclass earlier this year at the Royal Irish Academy, discussing AI, future jobs and the skills that will stand the test of time.
Kathryn Minshew co-founded career discovery platform The Muse in 2011 with a small staff and an even smaller budget, and now boasts 5m monthly users.
‘Work is personal in the same way that finding a friend or partner is personal’
– KATHRYN MINSHEW
With her new book, The New Rules of Work, Minshew hopes to make it clear that the paradigm of advancement has changed, and workers now have the opportunity to take control of where they want to go and what they want to be in their professional lives.
In 2014, Monica Parker founded Hatch Analytics, a “human analytics and consulting organisation” that uses psychological principles and social science to help its clients gain insights into workplace culture.
It is workplace culture, Parker contends, that is now so deeply essential to retaining the best and brightest employees in an organisation. She also maintains that overwork, stress, isolation and a struggle to find a higher purpose are some of the most pressing issues plaguing workers today. Through her work, Parker is inspiring employers to take care of their employees in a way that embraces people’s vulnerability, individual motivations and wellbeing.
Diversity is at the forefront of many minds, both in the world of business and tech. But it’s not just about gender diversity, it’s about all different kinds, and Hayley Sudbury is one of the inspirational drivers of this belief in the world of work.
‘If you have a diverse group of individuals making decisions, you have an opportunity to effect political, social and economic change’
– HAYLEY SUDBURY
Sudbury is an LGBTQ entrepreneur and former Barclays executive. She is also on the steering committee for LBWomen and a Stemettes mentor. Taking a proactive approach to encouraging diversity in the workplace, Sudbury created Werkin, a unique nudge technology platform that accelerates inclusivity and retention in the workplace by challenging the social and cultural barriers.
Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Super Early Bird Tickets for Inspirefest 2018 are on sale until 24 December 2017.
Updated, 4.03pm, 3 January 2018: This article was amended following clarification from Kathryn Minshew that The Muse now has 5m monthly users, as opposed to the original figure of 1m.