Levers of Exchange


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.


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 Pixabay

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

More Episodes


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

S03E07 Jeremy McDaniels, Senior Policy Advisor Sustainable Finance, Institute of International Finance

Season 3, Ep. 7
What we discussed: Wouldn’t it make sense, if climate change is a global issue, that we have a consensus in how to approach it? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it seems. Although the financial sector is building consensus around required disclosures using the framework developed by the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), different countries are implementing it in different ways. Thus, a fragmentation of policies and approaches may unintentionally undermine progress.Why it matters: There is a tension between explore/exploit. Sometimes, the best strategy is to explore new options by segmenting, fragmenting, and allowing multiple solutions to crop up, while other times it’s best to exploit the best option so as to achieve efficiency of scale. The question is: does the financial sector still need to explore ideas of how to align finance to environmental outcomes, or do we need to exploit the structures and methodologies already developed? What it means for you: As you go about implementing systems change, reflect on whether you need new ideas (explore) or you need efficiency gains of existing processes (exploit).Interviewee’s Bio:Jeremy McDaniels, Institute of International Finance, Washington DC USAM.S. in Environmental Management (Dist.), University of Oxford, SSEEAs Senior Policy Advisor, Sustainable Finance, in the IIF Global Policy Initiatives department, Jeremy leads projects on climate risk assessment, disclosure, terminology and definitions. He also supports the IIF’s engagement on sustainable finance policy and regulatory issues with international standard-setting entities.https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-mcdaniels/In this interview, we discussed the following questions:What's your favorite movies and what's your favorite media?How we interact with sustainability data is becoming incredibly timely.How would you frame sustainable finance as you try to move the world towards net zero goals?Can you elaborate on what materiality means? When you say materiality, what viewpoint do you mean?What is the Institute for International Finance (IIF), and what is your role within IIF?Should there be a monolithic goal for the finance sector to minimize fragmentation, or should each subsector set their own localized sustainability goals?Can you clarify TCFD, Taxonomy and other standards because they each have different roles in sustainable finance?What are some global / geographic challenges that you think can be simplified for sustainability purposes?When you're working at such high levels, how granular do you need to be on the ground to make these decisions?Is any financial subsector more advanced in their sustainable finance thinking and approach?Do you notice a 'translation' issue as different financial sectors grapple with the common problem of climate change?We've spent a lot of time talking about risk, what do you see within the opportunity space?Finance, like legal, accounting, telecommunication, and many others, are just enabling infrastructures for the real economy.When we start bringing time into the equation, time introduces risk. Where is there a lot of uncertainty today?Where did you first get exposed to sustainability as the field you wanted to dedicate your career towards?What did you find at the intersection of media and the public?What do you consider to be your primary skill?To a current student, what skill or expertise do you encourage 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.