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Youth 20 Dialogue in Berlin

Some minutes with Julia Amerikaner, one of the argentine delegates.

The Youth 20 Dialogue is the official G20 forum for young people.  As the SABF, it’s objective is to gather young professionals of different cultures to tackle the future of the international agenda. In this edition, Julia Amerikaner was the argentine delegate.

 

SABF: Tell us a bit about the activities during those days.

Julia Amerikaner (JA): The conference lasted a week and more than 70 young participants from different countries and organizations were gathered. This year, not only delegates of the G20 countries were there, but other guest countries as well (like Norway and Singapore) and multilateral organizations, like the World Trade Organization, World Labour Organization, United Nations and regional organizations like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The final product was a special editorial of 25 pages that resumed the 10 topics that youth considers a priority. Between those: global economy, gender equality, digitalization, sustainable development, terrorism, migration and refugees, within others.

During the first days of the conference, we got together in informal workshops to discuss these topics and set forth recommendations for the G20 governments. Afterwards, each one of us chose a topic and worked on it in teams.  In between, we had the opportunity to meet experts in each field and enhance our work.  After the first draft, each team had to present their topic to the reset of the conference and we went through each point altogether.

Consensus was key: there were easily 5 drafts before getting to the final document (and a lot of nights up until 4 am!).  We discussed about which ideas to include (or even which entire paragraph should be deleted); the nature of the recommendations and the capacity of the governments to set them forth.

After closing the document, each group chose a speaker to present the theme to Merkel.  The speaker had two minutes to pitch their idea and, later on, accepted questions from Merkel.

 

SABF: How were the different topics developed? Which one interested you the most?

JA: At the beginning the topics were worked by everyone, it was an exchange of ideas, opinions and points of view.  Later, each participant had to focus on one topic in groups of 4 or 10 persons.  In my case, I was passionate about three:  anti-corruption, digitalization and gender equality.

Finally, I chose to work in the digitalization committee. To understand my decision, you should know that I work as an adviser in the Ministry of Culture of the Nation.  When I began, almost a year ago, everything was done on paper. Today I’m leading a project to implement a digital platform to organize the work at the Ministry; from the planifications of their activities to the budget execution.  I felt that I had a lot to contribute to the group and also had the chance to deepen my own knowledge and apply what was learnt in my country. I really feel that the modernization of the State is important to progress and to improve the quality of the services offered to the citizens.

 

SABF: As you worked on the digitalization topic, did you come across any uneasiness?

JA: I’ll make an observation (It could be considered as “uneasiness”) and I will say something very obvious:  Our context, the place where we grew up and the things that surround us, really define the way of seeing the world. I say this because I was surprised that the in the gender equality committee (composed entirely by europeans and none from Latin America) did not include gender violence in their first draft. The argentine delegation, together with the mexican, requested that it should be included in a paragraph in the official document about the gender violence and domestic violence.

This anecdote serves to emphasise that diversity, especially in a working group, is important.  I believe that if Argentina and Mexico would not have been part of the discussion, then gender violence would not have been included in a debate about equality; a terrible mistake, in my opinion.

 

SABF: At the time of promoting the objectives of the G20, what do you think is the role of Argentina and what do you think is the most urgent aspect to strengthen?

JA: I think Argentina has the unique opportunity next year as we are assuming the presidency of the G20.  There are only three latin american countries in the group (Mexico, Argentina and Brazil).  So I think Argentina can emphasize certain topics in a unique way: the poverty and migration as one of the most relevant.  I would also like the country to take a long term perspective and emphasis on sustainable development and politics on renewable energy, as well as gender equality and digitalization.

 

SABF: What did you want to pass over of Argentina to the rest of the countries?

JA: I became a very close friend of the delegations of Korea, Indonesia and Singapore. All of them said that I was the first argentine they met. That tells you everything.  As a delegate, you want to share the best of your country: the sympathy of Argentina, the friendship, but also the cleverness of argentines to solve problems.  I wanted to transmit that we were an open country, friendly and, above all, leave a good impression.

 

SABF: You had some training on public speaking, anything you would want to share about that?

JA: Thess conferences show the importance of public speaking. For the ones that don’t have much experience in this, I believe the most important part is to lose the fear and to try it: start speaking in public, by small steps, without embarrassment and with conviction.  At the moment of preparing a speech, the best thing is to write down what you want to transmit and generate something coherent.  Where one idea follows another one naturally.  Above all, be clear and concise, give examples.

 

SABF: One of the topics for Y20 was the lack of economic opportunities for young people and the lack of representation of youth in the global economy. According to statistics 25 per cent of youth in middle-income nations and 15 per cent in high income nations are NEETs: not in education, employment or training (OECD, 2017). What’s your perspective?

JA: This was one of the main topics: young employment.  It’s something that generates a lot of concern; from Latin America to Europe, Africa and Asia.  Above all, I believe that participation of youth in politics and social civil organizations is key.

 

SABF: How was it to share some moments with Angela Merkel?

JA: It was amazing.  I think that the presence of a Head of State — and someone as influential in the international scenery as Merkel– was a positive message to us and an important signal for youth.  It means “we care about what you are saying”, given that they generated the institutional space to give us a voice.  Also, Merkel had a lot of questions and she seemed interested.  It was not a “passive listening” on her behalf but she made us stand up for our points and develop others.  For the digitization team, she inquired about artificial intelligence and future challenges.

 

SABF: What are your expectations for the coming G20 in Argentina?

JA: I may be repeating myself a little… But my expectation is that this is a great opportunity for Argentina to itself before the world.  I would like to see us leading the regional agenda in topics such as digitization, gender equality and sustainable development.

 

SABF: Do you have an anecdote to share?

JA: Uf, thousands.  But I would like to tell one about how I met the delegate of Arabia Saudita. We both participated in a workshop about gender equality and as I talked (or she), a sense of complicity developed.  We had a lot in common, all of those who shared ideas were in sintony. She said something and I was thinking “yeah, that’s right”.  I said something and she would look at me like saying “I agree completely”.  When the workshop ended, she came to me and said “We haven’t met yet, right?” And I said “No, but we should”.  After that, and together with the delegate from Singapore, we spent hours talking about different topics, always feeling we had a special connection.  That’s something amazing that this kind of international conferences give: the chance to connect instantly with a person from a completely different environment, that you met two days ago.

 

SABF: From the global challenges that were set forward, which was your favourite?

JA: My favorite is Assuming Responsibility. Already it’s title expresses a key idea: what happens is our responsibility.  It’s time to assume that responsibility and be proactive at the moment of solving problems that unsettle the world for hundreds of years: wars, forced migration, sickness, injustice.  In a world evermore connected, I think it’s irresponsible to look the other way and say “this is not my problem”.  Someone else will not fix this and this will affect you too.  We all have the potential to be agents of change.

What would be of Sherlock without Dr. Watson? The case of data analytics.

Being able to tell a good story is as important as good data analysis.

Sherlock had the ability to analyze and put together odd pieces of events. But his findings were set on paper in a catching way by his friend Dr. Watson. Being able to tell a good story is as important as having the right data analysis to back it up.

Traditionally, concerns were focused on how to minimize data processing time and how to build a model with the highest predictive value. Today’s concerns are towards what actions can be taken based on predictive modelling and what constituencies will support or block implementation.

“Data, hardware, and software are available in droves, but human comprehension of the possibilities they enable is much less common.” Tom Davenport. HBR.

Data analytics is without question on the rise and it was enabled by technology. Today there are thousands of businesses that collect vast amounts of data but are at a loss when trying to put this information to use[1].

Why are both important?

In an organization efforts are aligned through its strategic objectives and in most cases data allows to measure progress in order to reach these objectives. Within the decision making processes in organizations people with tech and non-tech skills coexist and both are equally important. “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.” As said by Deming.  But without a hypothesis/objective you’re just a person with data. Communicating proposals validated on data points and generating consensus throughout the organization drives meaningful new ideas. Enabling to leverage data in order to achieve business results and create insight.

When does analytics fail? The case of Netflix

A couple of years ago Netflix launched a $1 million prize for the team that could come up with an algorithm that improved by 10 points the current match making of recommendations.  So the algorithm was developed and there was a winner but it was never implemented because Netflix changed its service from DVD-by-mail to streaming.  Meaning the whole organization was changing and the algorithm developed was rendered useless in most part[2].

References:

[1] http://burning-glass.com/research/hybrid-jobs/

[2] http://techblog.netflix.com/2012/04/netflix-recommendations-beyond-5-stars.html

Challenges in the automotive industry’s business model

How have 21st Century technologies allowed companies in the automotive industry to change their business models?

Since the beginning of the 21st century new players from the technology and communications sectors are entering the automotive industry and dramatically changing its chain value and traditional business model.  The main segments that were altered significantly are production, sales experience, key partners, product innovation and R&D.  Today the companies that follow have a chance to leap at the front of the game and those ahead might stay behind if their business model is not flexible at its core.

1)     Transition from push production to demand pull and modular production

We have seen this change in an innumerable amount of industries but Dell is the first name to come in mind when talking about modular production.  The automotive industry has been taking in at a late stage technological advances that arise in other industries.   In this way production transitioned to offer products with attributes selected by the client, sometimes ordered through internet and delivered within 15 days; for instance, Toyota’s upstart Scion.

2)    Changes in sales experience

Car dealers as sale points are being swept out as in the case of BMW and Tesla.  BMW chooses to change the buying experience by introducing the ‘BMW product genius’ who will educate the customer on all the lines of products.  The motivation of ‘BMW product genius’ is not to sell (they do not earn commissions per sale) but to build customer loyalty.  It certainly takes after the service offered in Apple Stores.  As to Tesla S1 electric car sold directly to customers is more aggressive and is reprimanded by car dealers.  Not because they are direct competitors (Tesla’s sales represent 0.1% of US auto market) but because out of fear that other brands might follow.

Technology has disrupted the way people make their buying decisions; today people use platforms to determine who to trust and what to buy.  Above that, consumers today value innovation in automobiles.  They want to buy from the companies they perceive as brining new technology first to the market.

3)    Product Innovation and R&D: Sustainable cars, Electric cars, Autonomous cars

In the ‘2016 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard[1]’ 6 automakers are among the top 30 and the number of patent filings in the automotive industry also reflect an increase.  Volkswagen was the company with the highest investment in R&D worldwide, until it stated struggling after falsifying environmental testing protocols.  Innovation has become a top priority for automotive companies.  Today there are at least 50 hybrid models in the market whereas in 2001 there were only 2.

Focusing only on downsizing internal combustion engines and fuel efficiency may mean leading companies may fall behind innovative companies in the future.  Changes in their products must be timed as to gain acceptance and not lose their loyal customers.  

The main product changes from mechanical to hybrid to electric to partly automated which shifted the sales motto of ‘faster, stronger’ to ‘sustainable, innovative’.

4)    Shared ownership

Going a step further the ‘Car2Go’ by Daimler and ‘DriveNow’ by BMW services suggest no ownership.  Another different example is ‘Autolib’ where the service is run by the government, a key partner, and the company providing the cars is unknown to the public.

Altogether there is more to technology innovation than changes to the product itself.  It enables new business models and relationships between stakeholders.  The emerging model is still to come but it is certain it will be driven by technology.  The chain value and business model will be shifting as new stakeholders enter the industry with the advances in electronics, communications, alternative fuels and materials.

 

REFERENCES:

[1] https://www.iriweb.org/sites/default/files/2016GlobalR%26DFundingForecast_2.pdf

SOURCES:

Ø  www.forbes.com

Ø  www.bcgperspectives.com

Ø  www.bain.com

Ø  www.bloomberg.com

Ø  www.economist.com

Ø  www.kpmg.com

Ø  www.ibm.com

Ø  https://www.iriweb.org/sites/default/files/2016GlobalR%26DFundingForecast_2.pdf

 

 

Success and the power of mentorship

 

“And you ask any successful person how they got to where they are today, chances are they’ll tell you about a mentor they had somewhere along the way.”– Barack Obama[1]

People are complex but, in a great way, we are defined by our environment and ambitions.  Having clear objectives, is the first step towards success, because after that moment you can work towards them.

Today, looking backwards, having gone through university and some first professional experiences I’m convinced that a mentor can bring down obstacles.  The first time I came across a mentor formally was during my participation in the SABF team and I will always be grateful for her dedication.

A mentor gives you the means to improve personal and professional skills. It raises awareness of your strengths and weaknesses to better align yourself towards your goals. It inspires you and brings more confidence when facing challenges.  It´s important to be open minded to receive advice and be willing to work on it.

To find a mentor the most important thing is to learn to approach people for advice.  And to take the most out of the relationship, you have to be honest about your own personal and professional objectives.

Without doubt, if you seek for a mentor you will win opportunities to meet interesting people and enrich your experiences.  Always be open to give advise, people are amazing!