Q&A with Gretchen Phillips
Gretchen Phillips is exploring the opportunity for tools and technologies to drive inclusive growth by creating more efficient, effective and diverse talent markets. She believes these tools will revolutionize talent markets by enabling companies to hire more productive employees in an objective, merit–based and cost effective manner.
What inspired you to submit your proposal?
My motivation in being here is two-fold. One is, I recognize what we are doing in the Philippines is very exciting, I think it has enormous potential, but I also recognize that me, we, all the people involved, can’t do it alone. So I was particularly keen to come here and connect with other people, organizations that had tried similar things in the past to learn what had gone well or what challenges did they face… what could we learn?
My hope in coming here was to connect with people who had thought about those issues and could point us in the right directions so we could bring the best of the global community with experience on these issues and use that to make sure whatever we do in the Philippines has more impact.
How do you define impact or success?
Very tangibly that means helping more people graduate from high school, graduate from universities, and going into better and more productive jobs, and the spillover benefits that will entail in terms of sending money back to their families, in terms of being a role model in their communities.
What obstacles have you faced?
We’re still very early stage, and I’m extremely high in optimism. So I’m sure there are many, many obstacles, and I’m sure I will not worry about them until they stand in front of my face and stop me in my tracks. I’ve been meeting with a lot of impact investors who have come to meet with me in the Philippines and say, ‘Oh, I thought this was a business, and this is great, and I would love to invest.’ And I say, ‘ Actually, no, I’m running this completely on social terms. I just want to find a way to get these technologies out there help people, and I’m not trying to create a business model off of it.’ I haven’t hit a constraint on funding yet, nor have we needed huge funds yet, so that could be one piece.
Probably my concern … is just making sure the tool does what we believe it does in the context, and also managing the unintended consequences. As we do things at larger scale, making sure that you’re laser focused on those issues and that you’re kind of managing them appropriately and seeing any negative unintended consequences and dealing with them accordingly as you’re moving along is very important.
What takeaways do you have from the Symposium?
To me it’s been really energizing. It’s neat to see so many people in so many different contexts, I feel, trying to work on the same problem in different ways, and it’s given me a lot of ideas and certainly a lot of enthusiasm to go back and see what you can pull from the learnings and all these different initiatives and apply it in our context.