“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it”.Margaret Fuller
Here you can find your way to learn from others and to get inspired by the stories of ecosystem builders that are experts at their jobs. We hope you will take all of this knowledge to your own ecosystem or business or to your entrepreneur life.
– SHARON CITTONE
INNOVATION DRIVER & ECOSYSTEM BUILDER
Sharon has embodied the spirit of a changing world for many years. Having grown up between Milan and New York City and attaining a double degree from NYU in Communication and Journalism and English Literature, she creates content and relationships that generate a positive impact for communities and the environment.
1. How do you define your job? How do you explain to someone else what you do?
The role of an ecosystem builder is a relatively new thing. With a fast-changing, hyper-connected digital economy, globalization and the many challenges we face, we cannot view single programs or siloed sectors as effective anymore. We need to build platforms that join interdependent parts into a more complex and unified system. We need collaborative approaches that benefit the many and no longer the few.
We need to support and nurture new entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas and help them integrate with those entities that can make those solutions flourish and thrive. There are still many gaps to fill and ecosystem builders can be the necessary catalyst to fill them in whatever community or area they work in.
Specifically I design programs, create opportunities, bring people together that can accelerate new and innovative solutions. In addition I push the importance of innovation forward to solve some of the problems we face today as well as try to instill the importance of the 2030 UN SDGs agenda.
2. Why do you do it? Why did you choose this job and how did you know that you are fit to be an ecosystem builder?
I guess, in a way, I’ve always done it but when I changed fields and started working around food innovation it was clear to me that to help, even in small part, solve the great challenges of our time it was imperative to have a more systemic approach and to build a network of all the stakeholders around the food system that could collaborate to fast-track innovation and truly impact change.
By uniting my background in communications, my passion for innovation, my drive towards social issues- and a pinch of soul- I found out I was pretty good at putting together sparks, create connections and programs that could influence and champion important conversations for a better path forward.
3. What is the most interesting insight that you had as an ecosystem builder?
Whether you are building human connections and relationships, communities, or pulling together resources it’s important to always think about how to benefit both parties and create something that can be long-lasting and beneficial to all.
4. What makes an ecosystem a good one?
A good ecosystem needs to involve every aspect – in my case, it was anyone working around innovation, startups, investors, corporates, academia, policymakers, activists and so forth. One needs to have a 360° approach, cover all the possibilities because one cannot work without the other.
5. In your opinion, what are the essential qualities for an ecosystem builder or networking builder?
A good balance between creativity and logic. Someone that can think outside the box and envision future possibilities and actions. These are a few of the qualities I see in a good ecosystem builder. It’s not a ‘job’ per se but a mission to get together the right people to achieve something that doesn’t benefit the individual but an entire platform.
6. Name one ecosystem that you appreciate and learning from and explain why.
That’s a tough one! There are several platforms that do different things -whether we are talking about impacting social change or fast-tracking innovation. Two entities I like respectively are The Emerson Collective and EIT. Obviously one is private and the other public and both have very different agendas but the aim is still to better the future. If we look at EIT and its programs it unites policy, research, innovation, corporates, and investments for different streams throughout the EU.
7. What is your tip for ecosystem builders?
Keep an open mind, think systemically, and always use your creativity to connect the dots and create possibilities beyond what’s obvious. In addition, always think the best connections and programs include the 3 Ps – People, Planet and Profit.