André Pienaar Interviews Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton

André Pienaar: “Welcome to C5. We are a specialist venture capital firm that invests in cyber security, artificial intelligence, and cloud. My name is Andre Pienaar and today as my guest, I have Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the chairman of the Cloud Leadership Center, a not for profit organization who has come to have a cup of tea with me in our boardroom. Jamie, welcome.”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Thank you, André”

André Pienaar: “You’ve had a great many very exciting leadership roles from Special Forces, to being the principal private secretary for Prince William and Prince Harry. Now you are leading the Cloud Leadership Center as our chairman. What drew you to this new leadership challenge?”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Well I think the basic thing that attracted me to it is, the sort of overarching question about how in a modern tech world you can use tech to the advantage of leaders rather than necessarily to be a problem for them to manage. What I mean by that is that the basic essence of leadership is being able to project presence at a certain point and at a certain time. With modern communications, with big data, et cetera, et cetera, it’s more difficult to do that in a funny sort of way because you’ve got the technology at your disposal, but it can lead you down a route of not wishing to be there yourself. That is surmountable, but it needs thinking through. And in the context of the Cloud Leadership Center, it needs thinking through in terms of some very important challenges facing us today. So I would say what attracted me to it is actually how you adapt technology to be a boon for leadership, rather than necessarily being a restrictor.”

André Pienaar: “Well technology clearly enables leaders, but as you say, also technology poses great and critical challenges to leaders and to leadership today. And the key is to find the right balance between them. Now in the Cloud Leadership Center, we’re very much focused on leaders and philanthropy. And enabling leaders in either not-for-profit organizations or in non-governmental organizations to really use technology for the benefit of their mission. And would you like to share with us some of the work that we’ve done, to date?”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Absolutely. One of the sort of better examples I think is looking at the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is based in the United States. It’s an extraordinary organization, which effectively supports law enforcement agencies and other agencies which are involved in tracing, tracking down, and hopefully bringing to safety, those children who are missing or have been exploited, even worse. Now actually, technology has transformed their operations. It could’ve gone a different way and become confusing with just too much data piling in. But CLC, in conjunction with, obviously as part of C5, but in conjunction with our partners at AWS, have I think really helped to revolutionize a way of getting information in a timely way out to the people who can help these poor children be recovered. It’s a question really of a great deal of data being disseminated fast across the globe to where the law enforcement’s agents are actually going to be able to effect the saving of these children. So that’s a great example for us. It goes right across the board from just disseminating data, through to face recognition technology which could enable us to spot people moving children around the world fast and get the agencies on to them. So that’s a very good and a very, very rewarding bit of work that the CLC, and C5, and AWS have been doing in partnership with ICMEC as we call it. Who, as I say, I can’t praise them enough. They’re a fantastic organization.”

André Piennar: “Jamie that’s a terrific example and with you and I both being daddies, we know that we just can’t sleep at night, we just can’t take pause until we know that every missing child has been recovered, and restored to their family. And so this is just a wonderful example and wonderful work that you and the team have done.”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Well thank you. And just to reiterate that, I think it’s… It’s easy to be phased by the scale of things. But in instances like missing and exploited children, you can’t afford to be. You’ve just got to push it and push it and push it until it may seem like an impossible aspiration. The problem is solved when every child is back with his parents.”

André Pienaar: “Jamie, talking about great big challenges and difficult challenges, and challenges that can be quite overwhelming, another very good example is anti-corruption. Now the Cloud Leadership Center, this year for the second time, has led a global innovation challenge in this field called Shield in the Cloud, to see how the cloud technology and C5’s knowledge about cloud technology, can be used to identify the leading startups that are coming up with global solutions for the problem of corruption. Which governments and not-for-profit organizations are being the most innovative in this field, and also what global corporations are doing. And we’re coming up to the next Shield in the Cloud awards gala in the next few months. How did this all come about?”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Well I think it came about with some careful analysis and some conversations 18 months or so ago. Which were looking really at a number of challenges that we’ve been focusing on, ranging from missing children through to people trafficking, through to modern slavery. Underpinning all of that and more, lies corruption. If you’re operating in an environment which has endemic corruption, all of these challenges, all of these ghastly things are going to be able to bubble up and operate with impunity. So ergo, the answer is really to address the basic problem of corruption. What we came up with, we can’t change the world in a night, but what we came up with was actually holding a competition for the best small-scale innovators. Looking for those good ideas in the technology sector, from, it doesn’t matter how big the organization which has come up with them, which will really change the goal posts. If they’re given a fair wind and a bit of impetus to actually get recognition and for people to see how valuable their extraordinary ideas are. So that’s what we did last year. It was very successful. Hosted by the Institute of Peace alongside AWS, and all of our other partners, in Washington. And it went really well. And it got a lot of people, a lot of attention who need it and who deserve it. And actually help them to project. We’re doing it again on the 20th of March this year, again in Washington. Which is the right place to do it.”

André Pienaar: “And last year we recognized two extraordinary startups. Ushahidi from Kenya, which has brought real transparency to general elections and local elections, the world over. And also a Ukrainian startup that brought transparency to property ownership, and really helped to settle down this question of private ownership in the Ukrainian economy. So that was terribly exciting. And then we had also gave recognition to the special operations division of the Drug Enforcement Agency for their database for information sharing to your point about the broader maladies related to corruption. But you mentioned something that’s really important that I know leads on to another niche that the Cloud Leadership Center’s working on, which is tech combating trafficking. Which is a very, very important initiative, particularly as, here in Europe we’ve seen the devastating effect of people-trafficking in a broader debate about migration.”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Yep, absolutely. And before I say that, I think your point, your selection of the examples you just used it brings to the fore and hopefully gives a bit of airtime to the three extremely, extremely impressive entities. But it also shows the variety and the different approaches that one has to take. Whether it’s in Ukraine, whether it’s in Kenya to do with elections, or whether it’s the enforcement agencies of the United States. A convergent approach is what’s required. On the people trafficking side, we in the United Kingdom have got some good legislation on the books. There are some prosecutions that are happening now, on a sort of daily basis, which weren’t before. However, the underlying problem is amends. And it’s rather light corruption. It’s one of those ones which spreads across all sorts of different other afflictions hitting mankind at the moment. Whether it’s the trafficking of, as we just mentioned, exploited children or missing children, or whether it’s sex workers, or whether it’s people coming into the country on a promise, and actually being treated like slaves, hence the name. So this is a very exciting project. That’s the wrong word because it’s such a grim subject. But we’re working in conjunction with a number of enforcement agencies. The legal profession, the judiciary here which is dealing with it, and the task force from the home office over here, who has been to the fore in developing the legislation to underpin what the judges are now doing. I think it’s a small sort of step forward. But it’s a game where C5 and CLC can act as a catalyst for others. So that’s very exciting. And we’ve got a series going now in London where we are essentially holding seminars on a sort of quarterly basis, where we’re going to go right through, hopefully, the broad spectrum of the subject, drawing in all the experts. And then at the end of it, make concrete recommendations about how tech can enhance the various elements we’ve been talking about. And the tech experts, all of our contacts from C5, CLC, Amazon, are piling into these seminars. So they’re actually hearing the problems so that, as we progress through the year, we’ll be able to come up with some hard recommendations from the experts at the end of it.”

André Pienaar: “Jamie, terrific, it was terrific to have you with us today and thank you for sharing these very exciting initiatives with us. And keep up the good work.”

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton: “Well thank you, André”