According to Deloitte, 90% of consumers today will switch brands to support a good cause and boycott another due to suspect business practices.
Social responsibility is fast becoming an integral part of the business dialogue and businesses understand that they must take note.
Nowhere is this truer than in the technology industry, where companies like Facebook and Uber have had their own reputation-wrecking scandals in recent years. At the same time, it’s clear that technology—driving innovation and widening access to information and resources—can be used as a force for good.
It was with this in mind that Phillippe Nascson (pictured below, right), a 2012 graduate from the TRIUM Global Executive MBA —a joint program between the London School of Economics (LSE), NYU Stern, and HEC Paris—founded HUMaiN Global, an organization which advances innovation in ethical artificial intelligence and robotics for social good.
The organization is comprised of three parts:
- Ai.VEN, the first impact fund centered on artificial intelligence and robotics in Europe.
- The Robot Of The Year competition, which elects the best AI and robotics projects championing social impact financed by Ai.VEN.
- And the HUMaiN Foundation, a nonprofit initiative to make AI and robotics innovations available to communities to advance healthcare, education, and the environment.
Phillippe joined the TRIUM Global Executive MBA after 20 years’ experience in investment banking and private equity, keen to try something new. After TRIUM, he started his own furniture design business, with his work featured at major design festivals in Europe, North America and Asia.
Since turning to artificial intelligence and robotics with HUMaiN Global, the network he established on the TRIUM EMBA has directly benefited how his organization has evolved.
HUMaiN Foundation works with Hand In Hand India, a nonprofit which was co-founded by Dr Kalpana Sankar, Philippe’s TRIUM classmate. They’re currently implementing a chatbot developed by a French start-up which is used by kids between age 10 to 12, focused on cultivating resilience and self-confidence.
“TRIUM helped me to connect with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Philippe says.
Indeed, last year, at an alumni event at NYU Stern, Phillippe met Jennifer Pilat who graduates from the program this year.
With a background in the public sector, Jennifer wanted to underpin her experience with formal business training in order to further grow as a leader. She’s now executive director of the HUMaiN Foundation.
For Jennifer, the different elements of her TRIUM EMBA experience developed at each school—whether it be leadership at HEC Paris, public policy at LSE, or finance at NYU Stern—positions TRIUM as a space to unpack the need for, and implications of responsible business comprehensively.
TRIUM, she says, prepares EMBAs to be proactive in the shift towards responsible business through social discussion which permeates the curriculum. This is cultivated by TRIUM academic director Dr. Robert Falkner, who, Jennifer mentions, is an authority on how environmental sustainability is integral to business today.
Alongside this, Jennifer found visiting tech-centric Silicon Valley (as part of module two) particularly inspiring and relevant to what she’s doing now at HUMaiN.
She explains that it was in California that she was encouraged to question what businesses are doing to ensure that technological innovations are impacting the communities which can benefit most from them.
In line with this, Technological Megatrends is a newly added course to the module which will explore the problem-solving potential of tech, and the new challenges that AI innovations pose.
Jennifer will graduate from TRIUM in September knowing that she will be part of the growing role of responsible business, and that working with public and social organizations and tech through the HUMaiN Foundation was a good place to start. “I always ask myself, do I feel good about working here? If the answer is yes then it’s in line with my career narrative,” she says.
AI for good
Since completing the TRIUM Global Executive MBA, Phillippe and Jennifer have seen HUMaiN Global continue to grow.
The Robot Of The Year competition held its first awards at Station F in Paris in November 2018. Wandercraft, a robotic exoskeleton which can help people with impaired mobility walk again, won first prize.
The next edition will be on the 17th/18th November 2019 in Singapore. And in the US in 2020.
Doing business for good, Phillippe and Jennifer agree, helps secure longevity for businesses. Having a strong social strategy can make a company perform better.
“Society is an organism and every part has to interact to thrive,” Jennifer concludes. “This is why responsible business is key to a flourishing economy and world community.”