How diversity has the power to unlock innovation

Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of Chargifi

DiversityDiversity is a superpower. Brands that have a diverse workforce foster creativity and become a melting pot of ideas.

Employees from different backgrounds, makes a company unique in its own skin.. But even beyond that, if diversity does not exist amongst those who are building our tomorrow, we will find ourselves with a world that does not resonate with the people living in it. What an unimaginable catastrophe that would be. This makes the notion that diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is just about brand reputation or – even more detrimentally – a compliance issue rather than a huge business asset, a monumental mistake.

The world is going through a dramatic technological change and for many businesses, that means breaking the glass ceiling and launching a ship into new waters, just as we are at Chargifi in the wireless charging industry. Whilst this is an exciting endeavour, it requires someone to dare to be the first, to challenge conventional ways and to step outside of a comfort zone to create new opportunities.

When we launched Chargifi in 2012, people were sceptical about wireless charging. Chartering in new territory requires a test and learn mindset and it’s this very way of thinking and learning that has been the critical foundation to our culture. Innovation requires someone to be brave, whether that means convincing a local neighbourhood cafe to prototype the trial of your product or service (as we did at Chargifi) or sparking conversations with some of the world’s biggest enterprises’. Courage in culture is the key to unlocking this brave nature.

There is no doubt leaders are the principal architects of an organisational culture that will stand as a firewall against exclusivity. A deeply embedded and established culture, one that is expressed in member self-image, expectations and guiding values – to the extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas and personal expression – is so vital to a thriving and progressive workforce.

Culture is not and should not be treated as a tick-box exercise. There is no one-size fits all model and it’s vital leaders appreciate their role in spearheading its evolution. Diversity has genuinely been a foundation of making the Chargifi brand and product what it is today. Even when we were a 10-strong team, we were a creative mix of nationalities from across the world, and for some, joining the team meant committing to a courageous relocation to the UK, a feat in itself. We have always chosen people who are the best at what they do and the best fit for the company. Needless to say, experience has taught us that those who do not recognise the need to adapt, fail to bring together a diverse team with different skills, ideas and experiences. In doing this, a company will ultimately fail to understand different viewpoints, make informed decisions and drive solutions.

Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of ChargifiAbout the author

Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of Chargifi

Chargifi was born as a result of Dan spending six months traveling around the world in late 2012. He realised that he made strategic decisions about the venues we visited because of the availability of power sockets, so he could recharge and reconnect with friends and family back home. If he had gone traveling in 2006, he would have a connection problem: WiFi wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today. Now, the problem is power – simply staying charged.

tech pioneers featured

Seeing is believing: Why it’s important to increase the visibility of female pioneers

tech pioneers, women in tech

Last Tuesday, Cori Gauff stunned Wimbledon in her debut match by beating the five-time tournament champion, Venus Williams.

It was an utterly gracious and measured performance on and off the court – if you didn’t see it, I urge you to watch the highlights - and in Gauff’s post-match interview, she humbly told us that she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Williams who she said was her inspiration.

There’s no denying, when you can see and relate to someone in a role, you find it easier to imagine yourself walking in those same shoes. Imagination is the starting point of a journey, it’s a magnet for making things happen and this story is the same no matter what the end-goal – Wimbledon Champion or otherwise.

And what, might you ask, does last week’s first-round tournament knock-out have to do with women in tech?

The world is going through a dramatic change with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and although female pioneers have - undoubtedly – played a critical role, it’s a demographic that is systematically underrepresented. So, what’s the impact of this lack of female visibility? It is not possible to imagine yourself walking in the same shoes as someone, if that someone does not exist and although equality strides are being made, the imbalance of the status quo is stifling the diversity in our pioneers of the future. And, if diversity does not exist amongst those who are building the new digital world, we will find ourselves with a world that does not resonate with the people living in it.

Launching a ship in new waters is an exciting endeavor but it requires someone to dare to be the first; challenging conventional ways and stepping outside of their comfort zone to create new opportunities for those around them. I’m VP of Worldwide Sales at Chargifi and pioneering is a major part of our culture - it’s a major building block of our brand and the foundation of our growth. We are always looking for kindred pioneering spirits and to help pave the way for others, no matter what their role in the organisation.

Six-years into the Chargifi journey, we are at an inflexion point in the wireless charging market and we’re at a time that requires us to be more creative and curious than we have ever been to ensure we are not just dipping our toe in this new territory, but that we are seizing the opportunity to lead the way. We are constantly inspired by our growing team, our partners, collaborators and those like-minded pioneers in the industry who are striving to create solutions that will drive our world forward.

Which is why it is hugely important for women and other historically underrepresented groups to be able to imagine themselves doing something, and for that to happen, we must collectively work to increase the visibility of these role models. It takes a much bigger leap of imagination for someone to believe they can achieve something if there is no precedent to follow.Williams’ inspirational story was one of the guiding lights for Gauff on her journey to Wimbledon. With a focused and purposeful effort from the tech industry, we can inspire and support female pioneers of the future, too.

Helen Attia, VP Worldwide Sales, ChargifiAbout the author

Helen Attia began working at Chargifi in 2015 and now runs their Worldwide Sales. Helen is responsible for business development, sales and all customer and channel relationships - proactively driving the business’ global presence and growth.

Throughout her career thus far, Helen has worked at technology firms big and small, including Oracle and Adobe, developing their European, Asia Pacfic and more recently US business. She has extensive experience in marketing too, both digital and traditional.

Chargifi builds foundational technology that transforms the way the world Mass-Deploys, Manages and Monetizes power. We deliver a market-leading cloud management platform that enables the smart mass deployment of wireless charging; our patented solution turns wireless power into a service, delivered by our expert partners, that adds real value to business. Open API’s and SDK allows integration into software and apps, allowing data to be blended for greater insights. This valued and connected service provides a unique touch point and value exchange opportunity that can impact engagement, satisfaction and overall customer experience, which in turn drives revenue.

Chargifi is deployed by over 90 organisations in 21 countries and is backed by leading technology investors including; Intel Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Techstars, Accelerated Digital Ventures, firstminute capital and R/GA Ventures.