Dr. Cara Antoine visiting an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
The power of “I believe in you”Another way for Cara to impact is through her commitment to Women in Tech. As a young girl, she fell in love with science and technology. From reading about the accomplishments of great pioneers like Grace Hopper and Amelia Aerhart, to being utterly fascinated by the inside of a wireless radio when dropping it to the floor during a sibling chase around the house; tech fascinated her. As soon as she was old enough, she signed up for the school’s electrical engineering course. Little did she know that the teacher of the class would remain one of her most important role models until this day. — I was the only girl, but luckily I had a teacher who believed in every student in the class. That teacher inspired me to use my creativity to bind and solder the different colored wires, connect them to a circuit board, attach a speaker and then create a sound. And when we made it play, I thought ‘wow if I can make this music play, that is what I want to do’. I believe in you. Those four words were the most empowering ones Cara had ever been told as a kid. And ever since, she has been searching for those same kinds of role models for the coming generations. Because the stubborn fact is that there is a significant number of women and girls in technologian roles still missing. — Many are not being encouraged in the same way I was lucky to be as a young girl, and so I am very motivated to change that. We are missing a significant portion of the workforce in terms of diversity. And I know that we can do so much better.
Diversity in the space of techGetting more diverse technological solutions requires there to be diverse thoughts coming into the development. Needless to say, Women in Tech’s mission to get 5 million more women into tech between now and 2030, is crucial. To reach that goal, Cara and her companions in the Netherlands focus on 5 of the 17 sustainable development goals from the UN. — Gender equality is at the heart of all we do, but we also focus on entrepreneurialism, science, technology, innovation, education and social inclusion. And in each of those areas, we are leading initiatives and events, conversations and podcasts on themes to help progress what is happening. A big part of getting more girls and women into tech has to do with creating accessibility. That is why Women in Tech NL make sure to get out to the classrooms of less privileged schools, equipping them and arranging activities such as virtual game creation through low coding and building a robot. — At the end they get a certificate that they have become ‘coders’. And to see kids running around the classroom after hitting that green button is just the most beautiful thing. It is so empowering and liberating to give them that new skill, having them think ‘I can accomplish anything I want’.
Technologists with business presenceGoing back to the importance of setting up role models, Cara shares the remarkable fact that 60% of individuals having a role model are more likely to be interested in tech. And for that reason, Women in Tech have created a 4 month long program to highlight relatable and accessible females to look up to. Each month covers a different theme: passion, purpose, presence and pay-it-forward. But it is not expertise within technology that is important. Rather it is having the skills of leading others and the confidence to inspire and influence. — We too often find that there is a tipping point. Either you are really strong in technology but not so good in terms of leadership, or vice versa. And there has to be a balance. Because to be someone others look up to, you do not have to know the most about AI or machine learning, but be a great human being in life and in work. While emphasizing the theme of presence, Cara shares that there is a need for females to know how to promote their story, present themselves, share skills with others and pay the way forward. — Women have a very important role to play in their own self development. So it is equally important to be accomplished in tech as it is to be confident in business. It is essential to have skills such as personal branding, storytelling, public speaking, pitching and negotiating.
A group of individuals wearing blind glasses during the Blind Day Global Accessibility Day.
The inclusion solutionAs for the future of leadership, with basically every company turning into a tech one, Cara believes in re-shifting the masculine world and keeping the people at the center. The fact that we are working in a digital space is unimportant, because at the end of the day it is people's way of working that is transforming, and not companies themselves. — Transformation can be enabled or empowered by digital technology, but if the people do not change or know how to change, then nothing is going to change. We are still working off data sets that were historically developed by men. And so in order to diversify future technological solutions and really represent the society holistically, there is a need to diversify thoughts and design inclusion in the solution while building it. Basically, making the new leadership inclusive. — To me, diversity is getting different people in the room with you. But inclusion has to do with making sure every voice is being heard. ‘I go where I am invited and I stay where I belong’, that is a quote I like to use. So giving people a feeling of belonging is very important. What kind of a leader are you? — In terms of my own approach and what I think is important for leaders, I believe in getting to know people’s deepest passions within your teams. To know what their values are, their motivations and their talents. It has never been more important than now to be more human than ever, and so keeping people at the center is what I as a technologist lead with. Text: Jennifer Nilsson, Swedish Chamber of Commerce
STOCKHOLM, Aug 11 (Reuters) - As Klarna's billionaire founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski prepares to stage one of the biggest-ever European fintech company listings, a feast of capitalism, he credits an unlikely backer for his runaway success: the Swedish welfare state.
In particular, the 39-year-old pinpoints a late-1990s government policy to put a computer in every home.
"Computers were inaccessible for low-income families such as mine, but when the reform came into play, my mother bought us a computer the very next day," he told Reuters.
Siemiatkowski began coding on that computer when he was 16. Fast-forward more than two decades, and his payments firm Klarna is valued at $46 billion and plans to go public. It hasn't given details, though many bankers predict it will list in New York early next year.
Sweden's home computer drive, and concurrent early investment in internet connectivity, help explain why its capital Stockholm has become such rich soil for startups, birthing and incubating the likes of Spotify, Skype and Klarna, even though it has some of the highest tax rates in the world.
That's the view of Siemiatkowski and several tech CEOs and venture capitalists interviewed by Reuters.