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Cultivating Innovation Through Diversity

May 01, 2023

On April 20, the School of Management's In Reality Podcast hosts its first live simulcast show, "Cultivating Innovation Through Diversity." This event brought together expert panels sharing insights into how entrepreneurs and leaders innovate, overcome barriers, thrive in the business world, and discuss the importance of diversity in driving innovation.

It is undeniable that the lack of diversity still exists in the business world. “Our goal for this event is to highlight the underrepresentation of women and minorities in innovation,” said John Rebecchi (M.B.A.'83), Ph.D., Podcast Host and Event Moderator as he welcomes more than 75 guests, including New York Tech communities, students, alumni, faculty, staff, and podcast listeners who attended the simulcast show.

Since its inception in 2019, the In-Reality Podcast featuring a community of thriving entrepreneurs and leaders has empowered its audience to push boundaries, encouraged resilience and flourish in the ever-evolving business world. “I am honored stand before you today to celebrate the power of diversity in driving innovation and success in the business world,” said Deborah Y. Cohn, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Management.

Our Keynote, Lorraine Marchand, Author of “The Innovation Mindset: Eight Essential Steps to Transforming Any Industry” shared with attendees her inspiration behind writing a book on innovation. “I made every mistake in the book.” She continued, “I decided that the best way to apply those learnings is to write a book.” In her book, she shared how to guides and key findings for readers to accelerate in their path to success. Through Marchand’s entrepreneurial journey and research, she found that, “innovation has to solve a problem and it has to solve a problem that a customer is willing to pay for.”

During the panel discussion, our expert panelist shared their experiences on overcome barriers and the importance of diversity in driving innovation. For Michele Mallardi Gay, Co-Founder, Co-CEO of LimeLife by Alcone, what stood out to her in driving innovation is her passion for problem solving. “The problem became my passion.” Gay added, “If you are solving a problem that you are not passionate about, you may not have the grit to get through every day of the innovation process.”

Our second expert panelist, Deborah Brown (M.B.A. ‘08), transformational leader in healthcare started her career in Guyana. She shared her experiences in the early days in the workforce where there was a lack of discussion on diversity and representation in leadership roles. Yet, as an innovator, Brown turned challenges into opportunity. “I use that to challenge myself to figure out what I needed in order to get a seat at the table.” There was no magic formula she added. “I qualified myself to get there.”

Though without a formal background in healthcare, our third expert panelist, Sylvana Quader Sinha Esq., Founder, Chair, and CEO of Praava Health, an American attorney and visionary entrepreneur turned her company into Bangladesh’s fastest-growing consumer healthcare company. Sinha saw the need for quality healthcare in Bangladesh and became obsessed in creating change for Bangladesh's health care sector. When Sinha first founded Praava Health, she faces countless challenges and doubts from investors; her strategy was to surround herself with experts in the field. “As a woman, generally we are often underestimated. I actually think that works for our advantage because then we can only exceed people’s expectations.”

The event was organized by Deborah Y. Cohn (M.B.A. '89), Ph.D., Interim Dean and Professor, New York Tech School of Management, John Rebecchi (M.B.A.'83), Ph.D., Podcast Host, Victoria Greco M.A., Senior Major Gift Officer, Sabrina Polidoro, M.B.A., Director of Alumni Relations, Eleanor (Ellie) Schwartz, M.B.A., and Patthara Chandaragga (B.S.’ 11, M.A.’13).

By Patthara Chandaragga