Value of ‘failure’ highlighted by former Obama adviser in Galway
‘In the US in Silicon Valley, you are rated by the number of your failures’
Sonal Shah, who has been invited to today’s Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle.
A former adviser to US president Barack Obama has highlighted the “value of failure” in helping societies to grow.
Sonal Shah,who was director of the first White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and worked on philanthropy and environmental initiatives for both Google and Goldman Sachs, told students at NUI Galway yesterday that “failing more” was a very powerful tool.
“In the US in Silicon Valley, you are rated by the number of your failures, as it is an indication of how much you may have learned, whereas in the social sector it is regarded as a badge of dishonour,” she said.
Ms Shah, who has been invited to today’s Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle, said social innovation was central to academic programmes in 55 US universities.
During her time in the White House from 2009 to 2011, she established a social innovation fund which helped non-profit organisations to expand, and created a council for “community solutions”, advising federal government on ways to promote social projects and engage more people in civic affairs.
Public financing has been “taught in the same way” internationally for the last 30 years with no real attempt to learn from micro-data, she noted.
Ms Shah said lecturers in finance should focus more on new methodologies.
“Everyone is relying on the same papers written 10 years ago,” she said, whereas the non-governmental organisation sector was being far more creative in this area.
It was through incorporating social innovation and financial methodologies that societies could “grow”, she added.
Also at the university, a leading Irish businessman queried why no Irish third-level college is in the top 100 universities internationally.
Mr Lawless was speaking at a regional session of the Global Economic Forum at the college yesterday.
Contributing to a discussion on Ireland’s corporate tax rates, Mr Lawless focused on the importance of education in retaining foreign investment, and noted that no Irish university was among the top 100 in this week’s British-based Times Higher Education world university rankings.