Walking the Tech Tightrope

Walking the Tech Tightrope

By Holly Ransom, 2019

Encryption. Extremist social media content. Driverless cars. Blockchain. Drones. Facial recognition. Cybersecurity. AI. Fake news. The list of technology issues confronting our society is mind-boggling, and only growing in number and complexity by the day.

We’re navigating a new world order… and it requires a skilful balancing act.

On one hand, as almost goes without saying, the impact of technology is staggering, both in terms of growth momentum and potential upside; business spending on AI alone jumped 54% in 2018 and by 2030 could bump up the global GDP by $15.7 trillion, representing a 14% increase. In many ways, AI is becoming the next space race, with countries around the world announcing their strategies for global dominance. In 2017, China launched its New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, with a catalytic $30B investment, a strategy aimed at claiming global leadership in AI by 2030. When I interviewed the United Arab Emirate’s AI Minister (which is a world-first portfolio), Omar Sultan Al Olama last year, he was fresh from announcing a 50-year AI strategy for the UAE that by 2030 alone is predicted to contribute $96 billion to the UAE economy (12.6% of their GDP). Leaders in nation’s making assertive AI plays will tell you that economic upside is not only worth playing for, in the face of automation and predicted wide-spread job loss, but some kind of coordinated AI strategy and investment is also a compulsory entry ticket to the 21st century’s main game.

And for all the fearmongering surrounding what the rise of technology means for people and jobs (‘Terminator’-style visions of a robot uprising, anyone?), which I’ll touch on in a moment, there’s a strong case for optimism: tech capability + human capability (a combination often referred to as augmentation) provides us with the opportunity to be faster, smarter and better problem-solvers.

An app a day keeps the doctor away

An example of this new problem-solving capability is healthcare AI, expected to receive a stunning $6.6 billion in total public and private sector investment by 2021. As our population grows and ages, AI will likely be an essential component of how we meet the challenge of the projected ballooning of our healthcare costs. It’s predicted that top AI applications may result in annual savings of $150 billion by 2026. But it’s not just about cost saving, it’s about effectiveness and reach: AI can already diagnose skin cancer more accurately than humans, provide alternative service to the 20% of clinical demands that currently go unmet (because our doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals are maxed out!) and offers a means of providing medical care and health support services to some of our most remote communities.

Automation of a nation?

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. History has shown us with past industrial revolutions, that we will navigate a period of significant disruption as this next wave of innovation pervades every aspect of our lives. The challenge of workforce automation is real and significant. Current forecasts suggest 50% of jobs will be obsolete over the course of the next decade or so (the timeline shifts depending on which forecast you read) and this will be one of the greatest large-scale economic challenges our world has faced. Governments are grappling with how to train (and retrain) their populations and each of us is crossing our (yet to be automated) fingers that we’ll be in that 50% whose jobs aren’t lost. This is a significant challenge that shouldn’t be underplayed, particularly given the way the ‘digital divide’ (a term used to reference the wide variation in digital skill levels) is likely to play out socioeconomically. However, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a zero sum game- new jobs will be created in this next wave of disruption, so to paint it (as often reported) as a net ‘loss of jobs’ glosses over some of the complexity of the changing labour force dynamic. In the Harnessing Revolution report, Accenture argued that fewer jobs will be lost if people are able to reallocate their skills to tasks that require more “human skills” such as complex analysis and social/emotional intelligence. They went as far as to say that if this strategy were properly implemented, the UK would be able to reduce the share of jobs at risk of being fully automated to less than six percent, Germany to ten percent and the US to four percent by the year 2035. So, in essence, if we get smart about how we upskill and reskill, we have the ability to make our economic transition smoother.

Governance – all on board

As Dr Melvin Kransberg, a Technology History Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, said in a 1985 address:

“Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.”

What Kranzberg identifies is that the way technology interacts with the social ecology will frequently have environmental, social, and human consequences that go far beyond the immediate purposes of the technical devices and practices themselves. Further, that same tech can have radically different results and consequences when introduced into different contexts or under different circumstances.

This is the reality we’ve increasingly been awakening to in the last 18 months as the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica matter snowballed into a much broader conversation about the ethical frameworks governing how the big tech companies operate and how they should be governed. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg originally called for the government to take a hands-off approach, before making an about-turn to say that there was a need for government to step in and provide direction. Last year, It’s also important to acknowledge that these aren’t issues on the horizon, we’re already experiencing the effects, to point to just one data point:

In Australia alone, the annual direct cost associated with cybersecurity incidents to Australian businesses is $29 billion per annum, the equivalent of almost 2% (1.9%) of Australia’s GDP.

And that is just the tip of the digital, physical and political security iceberg we need to be considering as AI rapidly evolves the risk landscape for individuals, organisations and nations. Wherever you sit on the spectrum between optimist and pessimist, the (STEAM) train has left the station and it is a false binary to think our choice is whether or not we get onboard… that’s like suggesting there’s a choice between opportunity and obsolescence. The real question is whether we choose to step into the driver’s seat and take control, and how we choose to navigate change.

Co-founding Energy Disruptors Unite!

Co-founding Energy Disruptors Unite!

Now is the time to think differently.

Now is the time to act boldly.

Now is the time to UNITE.

Energy Disruptors is a catalyst for bold, game-changing solutions to the world’s biggest energy challenges. In 2018, we brought together global leaders like Sir Richard Branson, New York Times best-selling author Susan Cain, Suncor’s Steve Williams, Bloomberg’s Michael Liebreich and Formula-E World Champion Lucas DiGrassi to ignite conversations and collaborations to drive transformation in the energy sector. 

On September 17th, 2019,the world’s boldest energy trailblazers will collide in Calgary to redefine future energy. For two full days, the Oil and Gas industry will join forces with the influencers at the forefront of energy transformation.  This year, Sir Ken Robinson and Malcolm Gladwell will be joining the conversation at EDU2019.

Together we will cross industry and policy barriers, break restraints on thought and harness the powerful potential of human ingenuity and technology. Together we will accelerate game-changing energy solutions on a global scale.

Most events start a conversation. #EDU2019 is a high-impact event designed to ignite action.

#DISRUPTORSUNITE #EDU2019

Tickets: https://www.energydisruptors.com/

Be a leader: an AFLW Inspire story

Be a leader: an AFLW Inspire story

By Andrea MacNamara, Jan 23, 2019 | #AFLW

Available at: https://womens.afl/discover/inspire/be-a-leader

Holly Ransom was a very active outdoors kind of kid, which is hardly surprising for someone who grew up in Perth. She went surfing whenever she could and played lots of sport. When she was eight, she wrote in her school scrapbook that she wanted to be a Brownlow Medallist. So it came as a shock a couple of years later to be told that girls weren’t allowed to play football any more – as far as she was concerned, she was a ten-year-old Auskicker looking for the next level.

‘I remember bursting into tears – I was devastated,’ Holly says. ‘It struck me as so weird that I wasn’t allowed to do something that my brothers could do.’

That was Holly’s first real experience of inequality, and it happened to be in relation to gender. In her adult working life, she has made it her business to be influential in ensuring that equality is on the agenda of decision makers, world-wide. In sport, for example, at 27 she was the youngest board member ever appointed by an AFL club (Port Adelaide) and she was on the advisory board for the launch of the AFL Women’s League.

Holly recalls a defining moment at school, something that really got her thinking about how our ideas of gender equality are formed. Her Year 5 teacher loved giving the students logic problems. They would finish the day with brain benders, like this:

A father and son are driving home from school, and just as they’re turning into a road near home, they’re hit by a reckless driver. The car spins. The boy is thrown out of the car, and his dad is trapped inside. Fortunately, a bystander sees it happen, calls an ambulance, and the kid is rushed to hospital. When they arrive, the surgeon swings open the doors, and declares, ‘That’s my son.’ How is that possible?

‘There were thirty-four of us in the class, with 15 minutes on the clock,’ Holly says. ‘Our best guess was that the boy must have had two dads. Not one of us thought that the surgeon was the boy’s mum. That’s such an interesting thing to look back on, that shift in thinking between ages 8 and 10, from believing I could be a Brownlow Medallist, to unconsciously self-selecting out mine and my gender’s ability to be in that sort of role.’

Holly had leadership roles on the sporting field at school, and naturally gravitated towards positions of responsibility, yet it took her a while to recognise her own potential to really make a difference. ‘I found I could rally the troops, and I’ve always been quite mature for my age,’ Holly says

‘The big change was when one of my teachers sent me on a leadership program that really challenged my idea of what a leader could look like. I thought you had to be older to have a real impact, yet there I was with these unbelievable 14 and 15 year olds for a week, and they were volunteer firefighters and running amazing aid projects; they were making a real difference in their communities and schools. I was the runt of that pack – not in a competitive sense, purely because I genuinely had no idea that this sort of thing was possible at our age.

‘At 15, the trajectory of my life was changed. I thought, I’m going to get out there and have a crack at some of the things I’ve been thinking about. I discovered that you can be a leader at any age, if you choose to take that word and own it.’ .

“At 15, the trajectory of my life was changed … I discovered that you can be a leader at any age, if you choose to take that word and own it.”

After school, Holly ended up with a Law degree and BA (Economics) with a minor in political science. ‘I always describe my life as having a really strong sense of direction but loose hold of the reins,’ she says. She couldn’t ever have predicted the roles and opportunities that have come her way.

Underlying those opportunities is the fact that Holly has known what she’s passionate about for a very long time. She is driven to:

  • improve the lives of those less fortunate in our community, and generally raise the standard of living in our society
  • provide a voice for people who are voiceless in our current systems
  • engage other people in their ability to be agents of change.


But it’s all very well to have big aspirations. It’s much harder to actually make things happen. ‘I worked out early on that what you’re capable of doing as one person won’t even scratch the surface of what you can achieve if you mobilise a group of people. Very quickly, my focus became wanting to unlock other people’s capacity to believe in themselves as part of the change and the solution.’

“I worked out early on that what you’re capable of doing as one person won’t even scratch the surface of what you can achieve if you can mobilise a group of people.”

Holly’s impressive achievements, including her current role as CEO of her own company, Emergent, can be found here. Hers is an inspiring story of finding mentors and taking chances and learning from corporate stints at NAB and Rio Tinto, then choosing her own path. Her keynote speaking portfolio has taken her to six continents. She’s had many pinch-yourself moments with world leaders: she’s delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama, has chatted with Barack Obama about her work chairing the G20 Youth Summit, and hangs out with Richard Branson.

And yet behind the highlights reel, by 2013 Holly Ransom was struggling. She couldn’t sit still – she had to be constantly doing things, stuck on the hamster wheel. There were warning signs – little things, cracks appearing – but she was too busy bouncing off walls to notice them. Luckily, friends and a good GP told her she needed to take better care of herself, that she needed help. She was diagnosed with depression.

Like many people, at first Holly wondered why she couldn’t just push through. Then she approached the diagnosis with her typical tenacity. ‘I knew I wanted to come out the other side stronger than I’d ever been. I wanted to use the diagnosis as an opportunity to reset. I sought advice from people who had my best interests at heart and made significant changes to the way I lived and worked. I exercised more control over who I was surrounded by – who I was listening to and being influenced by. ‘That journey from depression is the hardest thing I’ve done and what I’m proudest of. I was terrified of talking out loud about it, because of the stigma attached to mental illness, but it was the story behind my first Ironman in December 2015, and I wanted to let people to know they’re not alone.’

“It can hurt you and upset you to hear people saying you can’t do something, but you have to believe in yourself.”

Ironman is a gruelling triathlon: a 3.8-kilometre swim in open water, a 180-kilomtre cycle and a 42-kilometre marathon. To build endurance fitness, you need to train around 20 hours a week. Holly wanted to set herself a big physical and mental challenge, to show herself that anything is possible. As ‘a prolific goal setter’, she was looking for something that would really test her, and with Ironman, she found a bottomless learning pit. ‘Every time I train, I learn something new about myself. So it has massive flow-on effects for the way I work. It energises me, and I’ve learnt to put training into my week as a priority.’

Holly doesn’t spend time reflecting on her past achievements – there’s far too much forward thinking to be done. And with a second Ironman under her belt, she knows anything is possible.

Business trailblazers: Nine formidable women leading the way for future generations

Business trailblazers: Nine formidable women leading the way for future generations

By Emily Pidgeon | CEO Magazine,09 MAY 2019 – 09:12 AM

Available at: https://www.theceomagazine.com/business/management-leadership/nine-formidable-women-leading-way/

“There’s not one single sector in Australia right now, in 2019, where men and women share leadership equally.”

This startling truth is why 2019 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership ACT winner Virginia Haussegger AM strives to make a difference in gender equality.

The 50/50 by 2030 Foundation Director was among nine leading women who took home an award at the annual Australian event.

Multiple Walkley Award-winning journalist Tracey Spicer received the national award for her tireless investigation into the #metoo movement and her role in establishing NOW Australia.

“There’s not one single sector in Australia right now, in 2019, where men and women share leadership equally,” – Virginia Haussegger

Pioneering surgeon and obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin AC, elite athlete Samantha Kerr, Galiwin’ku Women’s Space Inc Founder and Chair Bettina Danganbarr, Brave Foundation CEO Bernadette Black, University of South Australia Deputy Vice Chancellor Tanya Monro, Australian Greens co-deputy leader Senator Larissa Waters and Emergent CEO Holly Ransom achieved the 2019 accolades for their respective states and territories.

“It’s wonderful to be included in a gallery of such formidable, impressive and inspiring women,” Haussegger told The CEO Magazine. “I love reading and hearing other women’s stories, and not necessarily the success stories but just how they’ve done what they’ve done.”Previous

women in leadership awards
2019 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership NSW winner Catherine Hamlin.
women in leadership awards
2019 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership national winner Tracey Spicer.
women in leadership awards
2019 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership ACT winner Virginia Haussegger AM.
2019 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership Victoria winner - Holly Ransom.
2019 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership Victoria winner – me!
So proud

Women & Leadership Australia established the awards five years ago to celebrate female leaders and increase the presence of women in business and community leadership roles.

Waters, who made headlines in 2017 for breastfeeding her daughter while passing a motion in parliament, told The CEO Magazine it’s important to celebrate the outstanding women creating a better world.

“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” she says. “At the moment, the parliament is pale, male and stale and we need more women in there, which will not just create a more diverse political arena but also go a long way to fixing gender equity issues in other areas of our lives.”

Haussegger, who won the Australian Capital Territory award, said it was great to step back and take a moment to appreciate the merit of women’s work, which often goes unvalued.

“I think the role of awards such as this can’t be understated when it comes to aspiring younger women,” Haussegger says. “It’s terrific; in fact, very encouraging to see women come together to share stories, hear from other women, and share research tips and strategies for not only advancing in the workplace but for also encouraging others to aspire to leadership positions and step up.”

As the awards increase visibility and momentum for Australian women to receive equitable access to leadership positions across all industries, Haussegger, who was the 2019 ACT Australian of the Year, works to educate the nation on gender equality.

“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” – Larissa Waters

The award-winning former journalist says, according to the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation’s 2018 study, on gender equality attitudes four out of five people believe gender equality is still a problem in Australia.

“Gender equality should be about amazing men and women and the diversity of different gender traits working together,” Haussegger says. “We’ve made very small pockets of progress.

“Awards like this give people the opportunity to talk about why an award is being given and why the issue itself is important.”

Dozens of trailblazing women have been recognised by the prestigious award including Ita Buttrose AO OBE, Michelle Bridges, Layne Beachley AO and Professor Gillian Triggs.

#womenleadership #womeninbusiness

Trust is key to high performance.

Trust is key to high performance.


Helen Shield
The West Australian, Wednesday, 10 April 2019 6:16PM Available at: https://thewest.com.au/business/leadership/trust-is-key-to-high-performance-emergent-ceo-holly-ransom-ng-b881160459z

Non-experts are more often than not solving problems that have stumped experts, because they are bringing an unbiased, fresh perspective.

Emergent chief executive Holly Ransom, motivational speaker, advocate for young people and high-performance advocate, said that as world economies moved from industrial to knowledge-based, organisations were struggling to include the right people “in the conversation”.

“Truly great organisations, great leaders in the period ahead will be defined or typified by the diversity of the five people they spend the most time hanging around with,” Ms Ransom told the Property Council of Australia WA’s annual Women in Property lunch.

“In the context of leadership, think about the diversity of the five people you spend the most time around professionally.”

“Is there an opportunity to inject someone of different age, gender, cognitive perspective, cultural background, sexual orientation?” She added, however, that companies and leaders could easily diminish the power of diversity and inclusion by failing to create an environment of trust.

Four of the five components of the “secret sauce” of high-performing teams — trust, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact — were rendered useless without the first. “You cannot have a high-performing team without psychological safety (trust),” she said.

“How comfortable do people feel being vulnerable and taking risks — stuff that is the lifeblood of innovation,” Ms Ransom said. “What work are we doing to make sure our organisation is psychologically safe?”

Google, she says, benchmarks itself on psychological safety, asking staff if they feel they can walk into a meeting and offer a different point of view, take risks and “bring your whole self” to work.

About three-quarters of future jobs would involve science, technology engineering and maths skills, areas of study in which girls were dramatically under-represented.

In some cases, old biases were unwittingly hard-coded into technology designed to, for example, recruit for jobs, or conduct voice-based searches.

Some tools designed to empower women in work conceived of them as employees, not business owners, as many are in the gig economy.

However, she said despite dire stories illustrating the need to turn around women’s access to finance, jobs, management roles and a share of procurement, clever people were using technology to right old wrongs.

She cited GetRaised, a platform designed to overcome the impact of the reluctance of some women to ask for pay rises or promotion, which resulted in 74 per cent of those using it in the first 12 months getting a pay rise.

Another was designed to ensure women didn’t cut themselves out of equity deals in start-ups, potentially losing access to wealth generated when companies listed.

In a later panel discussion, Vicinity Centres executive general manager development Caroline Viney said companies unable to diversify would fall behind in a rapidly changing world. She encouraged safeguards against hiring “people like us”, instead breaking down a role, the ways it could be executed and seeking a person with transferable skills to propel an organisation forward.

ISPT chief executive Daryl Browning said he had been encouraged, as a man with power, to take a stance against excluding women. Getting a company motivated to change, he said, involved appealing to altruism, “the carrot”, but also some stick, or the fear of risking “being left behind”.

CBRE Asia Pacific deputy general counsel Somerset Hoy said CBRE was committed to inclusion in gender and LGBTIQ equality and the idea of “bringing your whole self” to work.

“We believe if you can’t be open and comfortable with who you are at work, you are not going to be happy, or do your best work,” Ms Hoy said.

“We are one of the very few property companies on the pride and diversity employer or choice list.”