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Special Report Economy - Interview with the Digital Entrepreneur Nuria Oliver

21.05.2015

 

WOMEN’S FORUM SPECIAL REPORTS 

"Women in the Economy: Looking for New Business Models"

 

Meet with Nuria Oliver, Spain, Digital Entrepreneur from the Rising Talent Initiative

 

Nuria Oliver, PhD (MIT, 2000) is Scientific Director at Telefonica R&D (Barcelona, Spain) since the end of 2007, when she returned from over 12 years in the US to create and lead her research team at Telefonica. She is an expert in artificial intelligence, human computer-interaction, Big Data analytics and computational human behavior modeling. Nuria has written over 100 scientific papers in international conferences, journals and book chapters, with 8100 citations. She has 40 granted/filed patents. She regularly gives invited talks about her research both for scientific and the general public, such as TEDx, WIRED or the Spanish Senate.  She has received a number of awards, including the ACM ICMI 2014 10-year Technical Impact Award (2014), a Rising Talent Award by the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society (2009), MIT’s ‘TR100 Young Innovators Award’ (2004) and the First Spanish Award of EECS graduates (1994). She is a Senior Member of the ACM and IEEE.

Nuria Oliver, Spain, Digital Entrepreneur from the Rising Talent Initiative

 

 

Women's Forum:  From the beginning of your work experience, have you noticed a change of the global economy?

Nuria Oliver: "Of course! When I started working there weren’t smartphones or wearables, Facebook, Twitter and other social medial sites didn’t exist, we hadn’t sequenced the human genome yet and Google was just starting, to give a few examples. The world was certainly a different place, less connected digitally than today. Our interaction with technology was also different, mainly based on PCs (at home or at work). Today, we are connected all the time, anywhere thanks to technology. I also started working right before the dot.com crash, the burst of a huge technology bubble which definitely had an impact on innovation and startups in the years to come."

 

Women's Forum: Why do you work in the digital business?

Nuria Oliver: "I am a computer scientist, with a PhD from MIT in perceptual intelligence. I love working with technology. I love using technology to solve hard problems. I love inventing new technological things, always thinking about the positive impact that I can have in peoples’ lives thanks to technology. Moreover, working with computers enables me to have very good work-life balance: as long as you have a computer and are connected to the Internet, you can pretty much work from anywhere, anytime, which is wonderful when you have young children."

 

Women's Forum: Do you think digital economy might be an opportunity for women entrepreneurs?

Nuria Oliver: "Of course! The world needs more female entrepreneurs, especially in technology. The world needs more female programmers, more female engineers, more female scientists in technology. And we won’t get more females in technology if we do not inspire girls to be interested in technology and pursue technology/science courses in middle and high school. We, women in technology, are a minority today, sadly. As with any minority, we need to make sure that the many extraordinary women that are working in technology receive the visibility they deserve so girls and female students see them as role models and as an inspiration, breaking stereotypes."

 

Women's Forum: Could you tell us an anecdote about you as business woman working in the digital economy?

Nuria Oliver: "Uff, I have many anecdotes. I have been really lucky in my career. Thanks to my work, I have had a chance to meet, talk, work with and/or show my projects to very important and influential people, such as Pope John Paul II, the former Spanish King, Bill Gates, the Spanish Senate, etc… and incredibly talented people. I have also learned how to pilot Formula IV cars and participated as a creator and a model in the First Smart Clothes Fashion show in the world, back in 1997 at the MIT Media Lab, where I was doing my PhD.

I am used to being the only woman in many professional situations. I was the first female director to be hired at Telefonica R&D, in a technical position. As my last name is Oliver, many times I receive professional emails addressed to me as if I was a man : )"

 

Meet with Nuria Oliver, Spain, Digital Entrepreneur from the Rising Talent Initiative

 

 

About the Rising Talents initiative of the Women's Forum

 

The Rising Talents initiative aims to distinguish highly talented young women under the age of 40 who are on their way to becoming influential figures in our economies and societies. This initiative is a commitment to promote women leaders and bring the vision of rising generations to the Women’s Forum.

 

Rising Talents 2014, Global Meeting 2014, Deauville, France

 

 

 

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, an international business plan competition created in 2006 by Cartier, the Women's Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school, supports and encourages projects by women entrepreneurs.       

The Rising Talents initiative aims to distinguish highly talented young women under the age of 40 who are on their way to becoming influential figures in our economies and societies. This initiative is a commitment to promote women leaders and bring the vision of rising generations to the Women’s Forum.