Cristiana Falcone Sorrell’s working and academic experiences are related to international/foreign affairs and media, in particular digital media. She works for the Inter American Development Bank in Washington, which engages in activities contributing to the social, economic and sustainable growth of the region. In the last two years she focused on Latin America, including the emerging trend of south to south trade. On the digital side, a few years ago with the World Economic Forum she participated in a very extensive study on the future of the digital ecosystem, which is the space between information technology, communication and media, looking at how the new players were disrupting the business models.
What changes do you see taking place in education with the emergence of new technologies and digital learning?
The founder of the World Economic Forum, Professor Schwab, one of the biggest visionaries of this time, asked me and my colleagues to look at ways to leverage knowledge the Forum creates to the benefit of our constituents, but also support our mission of improving the state of the world.
The digital revolution allows you to cut the cost of delivery (analogue education is expensive) but also means that new ways of sharing and experiencing learning are available. We have been doing research on traditional academic outlets and have learnt that there is not a lot of information on the topic yet, but everyone is experimenting. Online learning is often about scanning and uploading documents online, which is not interactive. In the meantime, even the everyday learning operation is changing – we have even changed the way in which we read of newspapers. On YouTube for example, there is a video of kids trying to push magazines with their fingers (as if they were touching an Ipad), with a caption saying ‘this magazine is not working’.
There is also the new way of learning that has a lot to do with peer-to-peer sharing & experience and teaching & learning. For example, there are educational games offered to children, in which the more questions they answer, the higher score they get. These areas are very compelling and extremely useful if we think of education as crucial for development.
Also, imagine the potential of being able to provide knowledge through a mobile rather than a complex computer. Especially since now you don’t need to go to school to ‘learn technology’.
How can these new ways of ‘sharing and experiencing learning’ through new technologies be applied?
A lot can be done in terms of health and education. New mechanisms can be used to deliver a piece of knowledge, for example about HIV in slums of Kenia; even where you don’t even know the name of the roads, they all have mobiles with GPS.
How can education possibilities enabled by the new technologies be embraced by women in particular?
Women are much more social; we have a natural potential to use social networks. That’s very important in the new emerging way of learning, both offline and online. I think as we embrace it we need to think of basic education to women where they don’t have access to technology either for economic reasons or because of prejudice.
What is your view on responsible business?
I like the corporate global citizenship approach. In my experience working with the Inter American Development Bank and travelling with my husband, an international businessman, learning how clients run their businesses, I see that more and more you have to ‘walk the talk’; you have to do good and well at the same time. You can’t just focus on the commercial bottom line; you have to do it in the right, proper way. Responsible consumption is emerging not only in developed countries, you see it even more in emerging markets where the community is still at the center.
Businesses’ core values need to be values that consumers can trust - they need to see consistency in the way business is run. We saw it in the banking industry, the consumer goods industry, the food industry… As a result of an increased awareness, when I have to choose from two products, I choose the one makes me feel good; it feels good to have a good impact on your society, environment or even economy.
21st century is not only about social responsibility as in social marketing or sustainable development; you really have to act responsibly and make it the core of your business. It gives you an edge and allows you to enter new markets you were not able to enter before.
How do you manage work-life balance?
There two principles I use, I took them from two amazing women.
The first of them has been using the concept of ‘average’; you cannot play all of the roles every day, it’s impossible. During a week/month you play each role at a certain percentage. One day I’m more of a business woman than a wife, another day more of grandmother or a daughter… I do the basic, but in terms of commitment I try to average.
The second idea I took from an Indian lady, who introduced me to the principle of becoming a clever juggler. In life, we joggle crystal balls and rubber balls; a lot of them, as women. These balls constitute different roles. We need to understand every day which ones can we drop, because they’re rubber and will bounce back, and which ones are crystal and we can never let go, because they can crush. Family is one of these crystal balls.