Saturday, March 4, 2017

Innovation at intersections

I love writing, though you probably would not have guessed it looking at the interval between my blog posts. However, I had to share my experience of today while it is still fresh. I attended an amazing keynote lecture at Sloan Women in Healthcare Leadership Symposium at Cornell University where the speaker, Nancy Schlichting, spoke of her experiences as an unconventional women leader. She spoke of her journey and how she addressed challenges that came as part and parcel of the responsibility of leading people. There were many takeaways from her talk, the most important being, innovation happens at intersections and how a true leader had to be authentic. I could relate to the first point instantly, as our profession as a designer affords us the skill to join un-seemingly connected dots in diverse fields and convert the ideas into innovations. The latter is something I would like to think about a little more and see how do people gauge authenticity...what do you think?

The talk was followed by a reception where I met a young aspiring chemist, and over cheese and crackers we spoke of education systems in France, UK, India and US; skiing and cycling clubs at Cornell University; methods of cancer detection and how math could be similar to learning a language. And all of these in a little over 30 minutes. Isn't it simply amazing! I strongly feel, as designers we need to step out of our creative bubbles and connect with diverse individuals. It is  through such exchange that we can break the stereotypes that we construct in our minds.   

Getting back to the beauty of the day, earlier on, I visited the composting unit of the university, along with some students who were conducting research on textile waste. It was windy and below freezing, but we were a dedicated group of enthusiasts:) Here are couple of pictures of the facility:

Snow-covered compost pile. Ithaca, 2017.

Lake at the compost facility. Ithaca, 2017

Experiencing graduate school from the periphery is as interesting as actually being a grad student, and I am enjoying being the spouse of a PhD student for now:) There is so much to learn everyday by simply being in a new culture and space. As Nancy Schlichting said in maybe not the same words, "Pause. Regroup. And march ahead with positivity".