Sinead Bovell, Founder and CEO of WAYE
Live DJ. Open Bar. Cool, like-minded people. It sure doesn’t sound like your typical panel discussion does it? That’s the point. Today’s Spotlight features Sinead Bovell, the CEO and founder of WAYE. WAYE is an organization that aims to bridge the gap between millennials and the digital future. Continue reading to learn more about Sinead’s career journey and the future of technology and business.
Sinead, can you describe to us what your journey was like leading up to WAYE? How do your past experiences help you now that you’re a founder and CEO?
Leading up to WAYE, one step prior to modeling, my experiences were very structured and goal-driven. In those experiences, I learned a lot about the value of hard work but the goals I wanted to achieve were based on other people’s versions of success. The more I thought about this, the more I realized I wasn’t in the right lane, and I would have to take a few risks to move towards it. Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by people who have made unconventional decisions or chosen the unconventional path. An example is my own parents; are an interracial couple who began dating in the 70’s while at med school in the UK.
Not following the rules was something I had always been exposed to and so when it was my turn to break the rules, I went back to my roots.
So not only are you the founder and CEO of WAYE, but you’re the 2018 UN Speaker: Technology and The Future and a professional model. As a multi-hyphenate, in what ways do your various roles intersect and differ? Do you find your skills transfer from one role to another?
One learning behind WAYE was that in my old business world a lot of people were familiar with tech and the future. Once I got into the creative world, I realized that the rest of the world isn’t [as familiar]. People need to know what’s around the corner. So my work in the creative world, in modeling, really helped me understand my audience and the market and how the rest of the world works, learns and adapts. And that’s been very critical in building WAYE. There are a lot of tech in the future outlets that only speak the same language as those doing the coding and the inventing but with creative work, it has taught me to be bilingual based on audience type.
And with modeling, I think you learn how to build your own brand because you are your own business. Everything models post can impact how great their brand does and that’s something that’s forced me to analyze my outward facing brand, WAYE. As a founder, my personal brand is intertwined with the brand of the company. Having that head start of branding through modeling has been extremely helpful. And had I gone directly from my business life to WAYE, I think it would have been more of a process.
With the UN, that goes back to my past experiences with corporate life and modeling. Lessons from my corporate life that help me as a UN speaker are being confident with own my words and my research, being able to understand it all. And with modeling, I’ve learned how to bring energy to a group of people. They all really intersect in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
WAYE helps Millennials prepare for the digital future and show them how technology will soon change the way they work. What surprises the WAYE community the most about the impact technology will have (or already has) on their career trajectory?
I think that there are two things. The speed at which change is about to occur -millennials often think that the future of advanced technology is a lot further away than it actually is. What they learn through WAYE talks is that the changes that tech will bring are actually only one year or two years away. The second thing is that we, as in Millennials, we often think the big changes that are happening in the future will be in the form of a robot or a big new innovation. What surprises my community the most is that it’s often the tools they already have and own that are taking shape and showing that future already.
For example, Amazon’s Alexa will be the robot telling you the likelihood of you getting a divorce. It’s often tech we’re already working with or have worked with. So it shows that the future is already here.
What challenges have you faced when encouraging Millennials to use technology on a macro level?
I think because we live in an instant generation, everything is instantaneous. We need to think critically about technology not just for this moment. The technology we use today is very ego-driven, ego-centric (for example social media platforms). But we need to breakaway from thinking about what technology is going to do in this instant and actually be motivated to learn about what it will do going forward.
To sit down and learn about artificial intelligence that’s not going to have any sort of instant payback or gratification, but the impact will be far more than any Instagram post. But as millennials, we weigh the moment more than we weigh the future when it comes to tech. And that’s something we need to change.
As technology advances faster than Millennials can keep up, entrepreneurship will soon become the norm. However, entrepreneurship is not for everyone. In what ways do you think it can become more accessible and attainable?
Funny enough I think it is technology that will make entrepreneurship more accessible. Up until recently, it was really difficult to get a hold of capital and starting a business seemed so formal. Now with technology, you can start an entire company on your phone. You can brand it, grow it, and ship sales, all of that through your phone. So I think the barrier to entrepreneurship has been drastically removed, thanks to technology. The good thing with our generation is that we are familiar with these types of platforms. So there isn’t much of a learning curve to get started. Also because of technology, we have access to mentors and examples almost in an instant and I think that’s also motivating. The freelance economy is also growing rapidly and so we’re starting to get used to that sort of work life where you don’t necessarily have an office. All of those changes are starting to become more of the norm.
In a short time you have accomplished so much with WAYE, what can we expect from you and WAYE in the future?
I hope in the future you’ll see a lot more partnerships with WAYE. For example, some of the bigger companies, the companies that have a bigger stake in the future teaming up with WAYE to ensure that young people are informed about what the future is going to look like. One thing you’ll see is a lot more is larger digital presence from WAYE. I’m so proud of WAYE Talks and so happy with how fast it’s grown, but it’s still a local event. In order to make WAYE globally accessible, it needs to be in a more physical channel to ensure that all millennials are prepared for the future.
Interviewed by Renée