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S03E05 Natalia Pshenichnaya, former Head of Programs, GSMA Foundation

Season 3, Ep. 5

What we discussed: In a developing country, the mobile phone is a person’s first interaction with technology. Thus, the telecom sector is at the tip-of-the-spear to offer banking services, agricultural notifications and health services to hard-to-reach areas.

Why it matters: Within 5 years, climate change will change the agricultural crops across much of the world. Yet for small-holder farmers, working on family plots, they are cut off and unaware of the disruption to their livelihoods that is coming their way.

What it means for you: It took innovative business models in order to convince the telecom sector to offer new products and innovation in rural areas. Yet the ones who did, reached customer loyalty upwards of 70%, unheard of in the sector. This podcast is a classic case of getting to know your customers on-the-ground to develop life-changing products and services.

Interviewee’s Bio:

Natalia Pshenichnaya, formerly GSMA Foundation, Berlin, Germany

MBA, Saïd Business School

As Head of Programs, Natalia oversaw GSMA Foundation’s global portfolio of telecommunication innovation projects. She managed multi-million progammes (£10-20M+) across all stages: from design to evolution, pivot and completion, including GSMA AgriTech, CleanTech and mHealth initiatives. https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-pshenichnaya-7107781a/

 

In this interview, we discussed the following questions:

  • What are some of your favorite vegan recipes?
  • What was it like growing up vegetarian in Russia?
  • How did you start your career in the Telecom sector?
  • When you got to GSMA Foundation, you fell into just the right mix based on your interests. What was your role?
  • What is GSMA Foundation as an organization? 
  • Why do you think the telecom sector got interested in impact broadly, but also agriculture specifically? 
  • Is competition beyond your traditional industry sector going to become more common through internet-of-things and technology?
  • When you were talking to the farmers on the ground in Kenya, what were some of the problems they would reveal to you?
  • We're talking about small holders, independent farmers who own their own plots. They are subject to these massive shifts in climate.
  • Where does the telecom technology come in and what were some technology solutions?
  • Why could the telecom sector make a difference when other sector couldn't?
  • What was it like when you started off in AgriTech? What was your north star? 
  • What do you think is the role of the enabling technologies to climate change?
  • It hints at how societal acceptance of technology lags behind technology adoption. 
  • Did you see similarities in working with farmers and with medical tech? 
  • What do you consider to be your primary skill?
  • How complex was this interconnected web that you had to work within?
  • There is lot if inertia to not do things when there are multiple stakeholders. How did you find leverage to make change happen?
  • What is what you're most proud of?
  • When you jump into a project that not only you haven't done before, but no one has done before, what do you do first?
  • To a student or early professional today, what skill or expertise do you recommend them to learn?

 

About Levers of Exchange:

Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)

Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)

Website: https://www.leversofexchange.com/

 

Season 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.

 

More Episodes

8/3/2021

S03E09 Skills that students should learn

Season 3, Ep. 9
Personal Resilience. Vision. Listening, and a sense of curiosity. These were the skills that our Season 3 guests recommended students and early career professionals learn today if they want to enter the sustainability sector. Our guests spanned across telecom, water, finance, maritime, electric utilities and cultural systems. I was curious, are the skills to succeed the same or different? I asked every guest, what skill they would advise a student or early professional to learn. The answers were very revealing.Natalia Pshenichnaya, the former Head of Programmes at the GSMA Foundation tied personal resilience to how this deeper inner awareness keeps the person grounded in what's important to them. Joaquin Viquez, a water consultant for the German Development Agency G-I-Zed, also pointed out the importance of a vision and personal passion.James Mitchell trained as a cellist before creating a career in Sustainable Finance. Now at the Rocky Mountain Institute, he pointed out that just like in a chamber music group, listening to each other, hearing each other, responding and reacting in kind with each other, is a critical skill to learn.Three of our guests, however, pointed out the power of curiosity and asking the right question, including Jeremy McDaniels, now the Senior Advisor for Sustainable Finance at the Institute of International Finance.Stuart Hilen, a Portfolio Developer at EnergyAustralia, put it differently. He considered the skills he looks for when hiring team members.Finally, Shruthi Vijayakumar summed it up beautifully. Questions invite others into our own space, to question with us.So, there you have it. Those are the skills that students and early career professionals should learn. It's not the textbook lessons that will create systems change. It's the interpersonal skills of inviting others in, of making chamber music together, that will create the new systems for everlasting change. Guests:·      Stuart Hillen, EnergyAustralia, Melbourne, Australia https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuart-hillen/·      Jeremy McDaniels, Institute of International Finance, Washington DC USA          https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-mcdaniels/·      James Mitchell, Rocky Mountain Institute, London, UK https://www.linkedin.com/in/james20/·      Natalia Pshenichnaya, formerly GSM Association, Berlin, Germany https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-pshenichnaya-7107781a/·      Shruthi Vijayakumar, Education New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand https://www.linkedin.com/in/shruthivijayakumar/·      Joaquin Viquez, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, San Jose, Costa Rica https://www.linkedin.com/in/joaquinviquez/ About Levers of Exchange:Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)Website: https://www.leversofexchange.com/Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay Season 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.
7/27/2021

S03E08 What’s your superpower skill in making systems change?

Season 3, Ep. 8
Have you ever wondered if skills that got us to where we are today, may not be the same skills needed to solve the world's most pressing problems? For those who have been listening to Season Three, you know that we interviewed six practitioners who work deeply at the intersection of large systems. What are the skills necessary to thrive at those intersections?Shruthi Vijayakumar, a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and co-founder of the Emerge Institute, points out that making sense of cultural systems means understanding the historical context and how one fits into the social fabric. For Stuart Hillen, a Portfolio Developer at EnergyAustralia, as an engineer, he found his calling using his problem-solving skills to understand how things work and how things are made.Another trained engineer, Joaquin Viquez who works for the German Development Agency GIZ. He attributed a sense of knowing what's missing rather than noticing what was there.For all of us who work at the intersection of systems, it's communication that is the ultimate skill. Communication comes in many forms. For James Mitchell, Principle at the Rocky Mountain Institute, the stakeholder engagement he had to do in the maritime sector required a lot of listening in order to get the Poseidon Principles launched. Natalia Pshenichnaya, who spent many years at the GSMA Foundation, found new products and applications of how the Telecomm sector could alleviate poverty and improve agriculture businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. She pointed out the importance to articulate messages in the language and jargon of whomever she was talking to.Finally, Jeremy McDaniels credited facilitation skills at bringing people together across many sectors. As the Senior Advisor for Sustainable Finance at the Institute of International Finance, he interacts with global actors, across 400 institutions and tries to strive for consensus.So there you have it - it's the art of figuring out what's possible. Some of it is curiosity driven, some of it is breaking down big problems into its constituent parts. But time and again, we heard just how important it is to translate between stakeholders - the jargon, the expectations and the underlying mentalities. Hopefully this episode gives you an idea of what skills you have, and what you can develop for a successful future.Guests:Stuart Hillen, EnergyAustralia, Melbourne, Australia https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuart-hillen/Jeremy McDaniels, Institute of International Finance, Washington DC USA https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-mcdaniels/James Mitchell, Rocky Mountain Institute, London, UK https://www.linkedin.com/in/james20/Natalia Pshenichnaya, formerly GSM Association, Berlin, Germany https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-pshenichnaya-7107781a/Shruthi Vijayakumar, Education New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand https://www.linkedin.com/in/shruthivijayakumar/Joaquin Viquez, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, San Jose, Costa Rica https://www.linkedin.com/in/joaquinviquez/About Levers of Exchange:Interview by Jimmy Jia (www.jimmyjia.com)Music by Sean Hart (www.seanhart.com)Website: https://www.leversofexchange.com/Image by ErikaWittlieb from PixabaySeason 3 is funded by a generous grant from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.