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Dr. Pamela McCauley, professor, and director of the Ergonomics Laboratory in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems at the University of Central Florida was a keynote speaker at the Global Leadership Forum Technology Summit held April 6 at the headquarters of World Wide Technology Inc. in Missouri.

Founded in 1990, World Wide Technology has grown from a small product reseller into a technology solution provider with more than $9 billion in annual revenue and over 4,000 employees.

Many of Dr.  McCauley’s diversity and innovation talks draw from her book: Transforming Your STEM Career Through Leadership and Innovation: Inspiration and Strategies for Women, which examines the need for leadership and innovation in America, particularly among women and STEM professionals. Below are excerpts from Dr. Pamela McCauley’s talk on Innovation at the Global Leadership Forum Technology Summit on April 6.

I was in organizational innovation–product and service operational and business model innovation. So why does it matter? If you want to last, then you better innovate. From a sustainability perspective, impact, and economics, it’s absolutely imperative.

Look at Fast Company’s 10 “Most Innovative Companies of 2016.”

They include BuzzFeed (for shaking up media across the globe) Facebook (for not letting size get in the way of acting like a startup) CVS Health (for becoming a one-stop health shop) Black Lives Matter (for turning the conversation about race into results) and Taco Bell (for combining corn, beans, meat, and cheese into genius).

Whether it’s in the academic environment, corporate environment, government, or public policy, we need to be intentional about getting the message out. It’s time for things to change.

What drives innovation?

We know financial pressure and increased competition do.

We’re in a global society and we’re really starting to see the impact that we can and should be having at the global level. It’s no longer sufficient just to impact the United States. Technology has compressed the product development lifecycle so we’ve got to be quick about getting solutions out with stricter regulations.

Expectations are so different today than they were 20, 30 years ago. By the time you get new technology and figure it out, a new version is out. So it’s really important to understand innovation on a national, international, and personal level.

In 1993, when I graduated from the University of Oklahoma (I’m from Oklahoma) I took a job in Florida, so that was an “international” assignment. I tell my students that your solutions must have an international aspect associated with it. You need to understand what you’re doing impacts locally, nationally, and globally and your personal responsibility to the global environment.

More diverse groups creating solutions and solving problems

I work with the United Nations so they asked me to look at innovation and how we can use industrial engineering techniques to do that.

The Global Innovation Index 2016 ranks Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and then the United States of America. It shows America needs to involve more people in our society, have more diverse groups creating solutions and solving problems if we want to climb back on top of the list.

I had such a great awakening with the United States Department of State. I was in Africa three times last year, and Thailand, and was able to see how higher standards of living, wealth, and higher educational levels can make an impact. With sustainable development, small changes can impact the service delivery of HIV/Aids treatment in Malawi. Very simple innovations can impact a community, a village, and even a country.

I believe we have most of the knowledge available that can solve most of the world’s problems today. The challenge is bringing the right people together.

The U.S. State Department awarded Dr. McCauley the Jefferson Science Fellowship for 2015-2016. Jefferson Science Fellowships are distinguished appointments to senior academics based on their stature, recognition, and experience in the national and international scientific or engineering communities, and their ability to rapidly and accurately understand scientific advancements outside their discipline area to integrate this knowledge into U.S. Department of State/USAID policy discussions.

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