“A leader who communicates well is able to manage her company well.” Active in cybersecurity and innovative multimedia communication projects, Cinzia Boschiero is CEO of ECPARTNERS and specialised in European Research programs. Read more about Cinzia’s insights on AI, scientific data, the future of work, and female leadership in this interview!
Considering the innovative EU research programs, what are the challenges for women in leadership?
Communication and artificial and emotional intelligence are the new frontiers of technology. Unfortunately, while many women participate to EU calls and to Horizon Research programs, there are still less women than men as chief coordinators of research projects.
Artificial intelligence (AI) deconstructs and reconstructs the logic of thought (reverse engineering) and accumulates knowledge (machine learning) by learning from our behaviours. The new technological machines contain an enormous amount of information including, for example, billions of words, images, and videos. However, if the data being collected is biased or contains cultural prejudices, the machines and their results will also reproduce these imperfections.
If the data being collected is biased or contains cultural prejudices, the machines and their results will also reproduce these imperfections.
The challenge for women at work and in innovation is to be present in this technological and scientific revolution, to monitor the AI applications and developments, and to be part of this new ‘connective artificial emotional intelligence’ that is changing jobs; but it is also to fight against old stereotypes and to avoid the improper use of high technology.
You work in the USA, Japan, and Europe in the private and public sectors. In addition, even if there is a family company, you opened your own company ECPARTNERS. Why and how do you manage family life and work?
Everyone can cope with difficulties and challenges in life with courage and enthusiasm. I also decided to open my own company ECPARTNERS in 1987 to be more independent as a working woman: to develop my passions and interests, but also to be close to my children, as I have two sons now 23 and 19 years old.
Everyone can cope with difficulties and challenges in life with courage and enthusiasm.
Managing my own company has allowed me to organise my time freely. I would have liked to be more helpful in the family firm, Simplex Rapid srl founded in 1948 by my grandfather. Simplex Rapid srl produces spring making machines and is well known abroad for the quality of its products. But since founding my own company ECPARTNERS, I work on multimedia communication projects and dissemination projects for research Horizon 2020, in addition to press office activities for firms, research centres, scientific associations, and foundations of high level technological and scientific areas. My goal is to remain curious, determined, humble, to accept daily struggles, and to be competitive in national and international markets.
My goal is to remain curious, determined, humble, to accept daily struggles, and to be competitive in national and international markets.
You are presently a member of the national board of UGIS, the national association of scientific journalists, member of EUSJA, European association of scientific journalists, and press office of the National Neurological Institute “Carlo Besta” best known internationally. How will AI and scientific data change the future of work for women and for communication at work?
Only leaders who communicate well are able to manage their company well. The problem is “either you control language, or it controls you”. The power of communication is extraordinary. Therefore the scientific data and the EU research projects we are doing with the DG Research and DG Connect of the European Commission concerning Artificial Intelligence and the use of Internet and social media in communication show that there can be several new jobs and responsibilities at work for women in the next years.
As women, we must take interest in scientific and technological matters. AI, internet, and social media are changing our ‘connective intelligence’ in a fast and deep process. This is something that must be studied and monitored, in particular for the young ‘digital’ generations. Life-long learning is important in every step of our life and we should learn a better use of the new “adaptive” AI technologies.
You are currently a Board Member at WIL Europe and a member of the women entrepreneurs national Foundation Bellisario, you are also a member of BEWIN, EWMD, WOMENTECH and AIJPF International associations recognized also by UNESCO. How important is it to be part of associations that are keen on gender matters?
I am part of several associations because I believe in the power of networking. WIL Europe is an excellence among them! The network is comprised of a high-level, selected group of women and WIL Europe has developed the Women Talent Pool program to support emerging talents in their careers. I became a member of WIL Europe because of my experience working on EU matters and programs, plus I am very keen on the European Union’s activities for cooperation and research development.
Each of us, as woman, can do more. We must never “let our guard down”. Gender policies need to be monitored day by day. Defending the identity and role of women is therefore increasingly fundamental with the arrival of new technologies that are globally deconstructing roles.
If there is one thing you would say to your younger self, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self: "frangar" not "flectar" (Latin for “I will break, but I will not bend”). Even though sometimes difficulties may bend us, we must not break, but instead we must go on. Everything goes by, “everything flows” as the ancient Greek Heraclitus of Ephesus once said (“πάντα ῥεῖ, - panta rein”). We must learn from each experience in our lives.
I would also tell my younger self a quote by Cornelius Nepos, “often we do not fall for the value of our enemies but for the perfidy of our friends.” So be aware every day, look around you, listen carefully, reflect every minute, and go on.