Interview for PWN PARIS
Last year, I sat and talked with Francoise Derolez, a board colleague of mine about my professional journey.
We all have some core drivers that help us use our skills in different contexts as long as our compass (as Paolo Gallo's book highlights) is mirrored in our endeavors. We also all self-actualize at different stages of our career always aiming to contribute, perform and offer our skills. It takes courage to jump and to accept all the experiences on the way. It is not always a straight line, for none of us.
Also, I used an automatic translator that uses an #AI tool : NLP.
Today we welcome Virginie Martins de Nobrega, founder of the firm Creative Resolution, also a lawyer and international consultant, with an endearing personality who works in various fields including that of artificial intelligence and innovation, Virginie is also a mediator and agreed to participate in the game of questions and answers.
Virginie, you are involved with companies, organizations and associations to create bridges with the international public sphere, you have founded your own firm in this regard. Why entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship, more specifically self-employment, was not necessarily an option I favoured at first; and this although it was a vague idea as part of a possible foundation to address societal and environmental challenges in the long term. But, at one point, this seemed a natural move despite doubts and misperceptions about the qualities of the entrepreneur. Getting started was for me the way to best combine, at a given moment, my desire to move forward, to be a force for proposal, to be grappling with the challenges of my clients while being absolutely free of my choices. I also tried the adventure to partner to build a niche international mediation firm. My driver was to combine our forces to achieve a common vision that was ambitious: to be catalysts for change in order to promote social and economic progress for all. It continues to be my driving force. Entrepreneurship is also about learning from your failures and reinventing yourself. Today, I sincerely believe that more than a way of doing business, entrepreneurship is a way of being, which can just as well flourish in the business you create or in an organization. Moreover, I have been wondering for some time about the relevance of bringing all the richness of this experience into an organization to contribute differently to the international challenges of the SDGs.
Your jobs are often misunderstood, so why this choice which seems difficult and arduous a priori? How do you see the evolution of your professions?
Carrying out transversal analyses, conceiving pleas, defending, pleading, giving voice by being a privileged and committed actor in society was a call very early on for me. Beyond a job, it is the vector of political commitment to international challenges. Defend, yes. But always in the name of an ideal that inspires, calls to order, prompts questions and doubts, thus preventing us from being servile. For me, that’s real advocacy. A delicate and demanding art which justifies taking a strong stance in defence of interests and rights, while respecting the general interest. Beyond law, it is in international affairs that I find this political commitment best, although not politicized, for the benefit of a project of society and civilization. The United Nations SDGs are in this a beautiful ambition and an inspiring roadmap. As for the evolution of these professions, I think that all the professions which require a spirit of reflection, a critical spirit, a transversal thought, a dose of idealism anchored in pragmatism are and will be even more topical to the era of the 4th industrial revolution. Rethinking our societies and finally implementing the ideals of international texts (Universal Declaration, International Conventions, United Nations Charter, SDGs, etc.) for progress for all requires professions that defend ideas, projects and interests. I believe that real progress is to put new technologies at the service of environmental and societal challenges. Technology for the sake of technology is not a source of progress in itself.
To exist a company cannot operate in silos, it must take into account the contextual issues, how do you act at the level of corporate governance?
I never believed in the silo approach. At least she talks less to me. I like interdisciplinarity because any system is part of a whole that influences it, models it and with which it interacts. In fact, we have created "hyper" interconnected political, economic and financial systems. We must therefore provide solutions to current challenges together in order to combine our strengths and see the bigger picture. With regard to corporate governance, I had the opportunity to participate in an initiative to 'green the finance' at the beginning of 2004. It was to make the traders aware of the need to anticipate, to measure and monitor the societal and environmental impacts of international projects. It was innovative. 15 years later, this has become a prerequisite. More recently, I intervened mainly as a board member of a women's network to push the issue of gender-equality and enrich the decision-making of decision-makers by opening up to the richness of diversity within their companies. I also intervene more actively on the issue of international governance of AI and innovation by defending responsible and ethical innovation based on diversity, respect for fundamental freedoms and geared towards resolving the SDGs. As part of research carried out in 2018, I was pleasantly surprised to see that as early as 2009 the international intergovernmental sector had put in place responsible innovation principles in order to ensure that the innovations chosen and developed for them were oriented towards the common good and to resolve international challenges. Despite shortcomings, this is good governance. To make choices rooted in a vision and values. Questioning governance also means questioning meaning and putting meaning back. I believe that this is the challenge of our generations: to change our societal models by making them more meaningful.
Are CSR, inclusion and diversity really topical issues? What have you observed during the Covid-19 crisis on the side of companies but also of public authorities? Do you think that we need more rigor, a stricter legislative framework for companies and organizations to be part of a virtuous framework?
The texts exist, the awareness and the political will too. Beyond legislative and regulatory inflation, I believe that there is a need for greater individual and collective accountability. Over the past 20 years, the notions of CSR, inclusion and diversity have become benchmarks and marketing arguments for the positioning of economic and social actors. It is now time to implement them more systematically and to continually question our power of action at our level. On the other hand, I refuse to let diversity and inclusion be experienced as constraints. Continuing to challenge political powers and economic actors remains crucial because only awareness will make it possible to establish lasting and lasting changes.
Post Covid-19, do you think the good resolutions will last?
I sincerely hope so and I am optimistic. For several years now, we have observed a paradigm shift placing “The Human Factor” back at the heart of his natural habitat and geopolitical choices. COVID-19 has also accelerated this paradigm shift by promoting other strategic choices by states focused on basic public services and basic needs (health, food, environment, energy). In the same logic, despite dissensions or isolated positions, multilateralism has shown all its usefulness if we want to transcend obsolete models and act in concert. On the other hand, as in all crises, COVID-19 will highlight, in a sometimes violent and blunt manner, inequalities, famines, inconsistencies and the ravages of poverty. We must prepare for it and think big.
Do you think the women who have been on the front lines throughout the Covid-19 crisis will be at the heart of the recovery to build the world afterwards?
Women have been and often are. This was the case during World War II. This was the case during COVID-19. Women are full players in our societies. They run countries. They run businesses. Obviously, including them in decision-making at the level of governmental and inter-governmental working groups, but also at the level of corporate governance bodies, is crucial and necessary. The gender marker must also continue to be used transversally in public policies since women were also among the most affected during COVID-19. Last week's Women’s Forum showed the richness of initiatives around women and proposed concrete actions to governments. At the international level, UN Women but also UNDP, and other international agencies, remain aware of these disparities. In general, women are mobilized. But for me, a truly inclusive society is one that recognizes and values particularisms without locking individuals into them. US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg answered a similar parity question she believes equality will be when all Supreme Court justices are women! So, Françoise and Marie-Laetitia, I also wonder whether this quest for perfect equality between the sexes is not a residue of the patriarchy preventing me from seeing a society with only women in power (laughs).
Happy to have exchanged with you Virginie, your convictions and international background further illuminate our highlighting of portraits around inspiring, pragmatic role-models, bearers of strong values and open to the world.
Virginie MARTINS de NOBREGA
Interviewers : Françoise Derolez et Marie-Laetitia Gourdin, présidentes du réseau Professional Women's Network Paris.
First published on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-interview-4-virginie-martins-de-nobrega-femme-derolez/