Josep Miquel Pique, HiT Barcelona: Keeping the Work/Life Balance for Women

Transcript follows & video below

Could you talk about the Barcelona HIT program?

HIT, the World Innovation Summit in Barcelona is a meeting where we are connecting investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world; I think I could say the best entrepreneurs of the world. And how do we invite them? We are creating a Global Nomination Committee, a Committee with members of the best Business Schools and science parks from different parts of the world (MIT, Berkley, from Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and China…). They are nominating the best entrepreneurs, this means, the winners of the regional/local competitions, and we are putting together all the people, all the winners of the regional competitions, here in Barcelona. You may ask me, in front of who are we putting them together? We do it in front of international investors. That is the reason why we have a global venture capital committee. These people are choosing the best entrepreneurs of the world.

Josep Miquel

Sounds very exciting! Are many women involved in the program?

Yes we are not only open. I remember that one of the winners in the first year, was a team with a mix of women and men and they were coming from California (it was very good). The thing is that, we are not only open; we believe that women in science and technologies transfer and entrepreneurship, are one of the assets of the new economy. And we believe that the new economies, (knowledge based economy – it’s about your brand & what you can really develop) and when we are breaking a new economy -where the space and the time is never more in our minds- i.e.: that means that you don’t have to work in one time and one place, you can work in any place and any time, it means that we create more opportunities to have a good balance between job and the personal dimension. That is the reason why we believe that a knowledge based economy is a very good opportunity for both men and women who want to combine the best of professional and best of the personal life.

Josep Miquel

Could you talk about the femTalent program?

Yes. The femTalent program is a project that we are developing in Science Parks Association in Catalonia. The project started one year and a half ago, when we decided to promote the talent (feminine talent) in the knowledge based economy. We are developing that talent in different dimensions: On one hand, because we are helping the companies and the people to better manage their time. I’ve the feeling that time is more than just the flexible things about where and when you’re working. It’s a new way to work. It means, we believe, that if we have our professional life “in cloud”, personal and professional life, “in cloud” we can combine better our professional and personal life, because we can really develop our professional and personal life in any place and in any time. This is one of the goals to promote and to provide tools for companies and people to combine better their professional and personal life. This project is developed together with PriceWaterHouseCoopers. In second dimension, we are developing antennas in all the science parks in Catalonia. It means that we have people working in every science park promoting the equality, that men and women can work in the same way so that we can really avoid that any person, of any gender, doesn’t find a way to be, in the terms vertical dimension, ie., Director or Dean or President of universities or technological centers of companies. But also to promote that we can move people not just, in vertical but also in horizontal dimension, to promote that from science and technology the people can work also in companies. It means that is not only about entrepreneurship (because entrepreneurship is good way to transfer people from science and technology to companies). It is also to invite science and technology women to be part of board of directors of the small and medium companies. This is what we call the “Diagonal Transfer”: it is not just to be entrepreneur. We tell them: don’t forget that you are coming from science and technology but, can you provide value in the board of directors of companies? That is a good way to transfer knowledge without transferring people. We are linking people working in science and research groups or technology centers, to be part of this Board of Directors and the small and medium companies (i.e. new companies, but also companies that can really take advantage of the knowledge of this person who is coming from the universities or the technological centers). Because we believe that the flag of these people, of these women in Board of Directors, is not the flag of equality. (Do I use it correctly?)

Josep Miquel

Yes what I am hearing is that you really are working on trying to get rid of bias and you’re attacking that on many levels. Is that correct?

Yes, because if you are knocking at the door of the strategy in this context, it is the best way to solve the tactical or the day by day dimension, because… Of course because half the population is women, so what you are saying is to have people on the boards and to have people as entrepreneurs who are women and that can help, yes? And that is the reason why we are creating a program with ESADE business school, it’s a very good business school, one of the top in Barcelona, but also in Europe & in the world. They’re creating a special program for women, to be part of Board of Directors. Good for you! We are helping to be part of the board of directors. We are teaching you how to be a really good advisor for the Board of directors. But also, because you are not only with the flag of equality (the balance between men and women in their companies), but also with the flag of innovation, internationalization and investment (investment means not just to take advantage of the money of the banks but it is also about business angels, venture capitalists & growth companies)

Josep Miquel

Fantastic, what great work! Could you tell me what kind of startups tend to be attracted to your programs?

Yes, in all our science parks we have Incubators. We are developing to invite startups, usually in the sectors of IT, Media, Health, and Energy-Clean Tech. It means that for us in startups sometimes the board of directors of this startups are not ready to work. This is also a good contribution, it is not just that this person is going to provide the best in terms of strategy also because this person will be part of a BOD which needs to exist, that is this BOD has to be a real BOD. Some persons are not creating this infrastructure and they are losing opportunities. Fantastic! What age of women start ups do you get pitches for in your programs and what percentage have been funded through your programs? What we see, is that, since we have different programs for entrepreneurs in Barcelona. We have also a school for them (called “women entrepreneurs”). We see that, when they are both in the same classroom -women and men entrepreneurs-, the moment when women decide to be entrepreneurs it is not the same as men. What I mean is that, in the biological dimension, women decide to be entrepreneurs in different moments. It means to balance not only your professional but also with your personal life.

Josep Miquel

Yes, so it is about timing…

Yes, but not only timing, it is also to help the entrepreneurs in all their life, not just in the beginning when you are a startup coming from the university. But also when you are with children, and the children are in the school, perhaps is the better time for becoming entrepreneurs than when you have children at home. We have a special school for women entrepreneurs.

Josep Miquel

That is brilliant! So you are taking care of the obstacles that often confront women when they are trying to be, or wanting to become entrepreneurs. That’s brilliant work! Have you noticed differences with women entrepreneurs and how they pitch and build businesses?

Yes, let me tell you: You can divide the “smart” people with different dimensions. On one hand you can be logical or you can be emotional or you can be creative. In terms of emotional, when you are working with teams, when you are creating network you (women) have more assets than men. In any case, women and men can work together. Every gender has different assets, in terms of emotional (emotional means a lot, it means passion, managing crisis, creating teams or to be part of a project). The thing is that women are more inclusive in terms of job. Very good! It’s so great that you’ve seen that and, obviously, promoting it. We are working in Fem talent, is to work in the new generations of talent. We are working in a primary school, with children with 8 and 10 years. .. Good for you! We don’t divide them between boys and girls. We are promoting that both can really be, in terms of aspirations in life, they can really be in a professional life… we are connecting them with the … Do you know the first Lego league, the Lego game? Yes What we do is to be sure that all the children (boys and girls) are really, in terms of knowledge based studies, entrepreneurship, be global, they are really working with the teams together but they have references for them that are women. What it means is that, if you are a girl, and you want study engineering, if you see in front of you always men, it is very difficult you will focus to study engineering. That is interesting because in this program femTalent, we are including in this program references of women who are now in university or they are entrepreneurs or, in any case, that they are women, and can connect better with girls that are in the Primary School.

Josep Miquel

Fantastic and it does seem, from everyone that have being interviewed, that that is where it needs to start, when they are very young. . . So you are doing a fabulous work and it has been a total pleasure you and I really do appreciate the time that you’ve volunteered today in this project.

Ok Thank you for the interview and also the possibility to share the experience. Let me tell also you that in the femTalent program we will celebrate in this autumn 2011 a Global Symposium on women in Science Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship.

Josep Miquel

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