Spotlight on: Sweden
Published on July 15, 2020
Bienvenue! I’d like to welcome you to my first newsletter called Connections. Before Covid-19, I used to travel more than 250 days of the year to meet with our customers around the world. While I greatly miss these in-person connections, I am grateful now to have the chance to virtually travel to places like the UK, Australia, Taiwan, Spain and the US… all in one day from my home office in Paris.
This month, I spent time with my colleagues in Sweden, where we announced a new investment plan to accelerate digital transformation across the country, including our intent to launch its first cloud datacenter region. Today, I’d like to share a deeper look at the great opportunity for local innovation and growth being driven by Sweden’s government, startups and entrepreneurs.
In conversation with Magnus Forsberg, Director, Microsoft Sweden
One of the first connections I’d like to share with you is a conversation I had with Magnus Forsberg, Director of Business Development at Microsoft Sweden. Magnus has been with Microsoft for almost twenty years, so he has a great perspective on the steps cities and government across Europe must take to face new challenges in our society. Allow me to share Magnus’s thoughts in his own words…
Skilling the World’s Workforce
As we have seen in recent months, businesses are digitizing their entire operating models, and governments are reflecting on how to build fairer societies through digital tools. There are amazing examples of this happening everywhere, from a virtual e-auction for tea markets in Sri Lanka to moving entire educational systems online in Bahrain.
But while we know that to be successful with “digital everything” means the entire global workforce will need new skills, we also know that we are collectively facing an urgent and immediate unemployment crisis due to COVID-19. That is why skilling is so top of mind for our customers and partners around the world – we have a once in a century opportunity to re-imagine the world going forward.
Microsoft and LinkedIn made an announcement last week to help skill 25 million people who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. We’re making this commitment because the pandemic has created a global economic crisis, putting close to 75 million people out of work to date. You can read more about this goal, as well as accompanying advocacy and grant-making efforts, in this post from Brad Smith, while LinkedIn’s Ryan Roslansky shares more about the important role LinkedIn will play.
As a company that plays a role in transforming society though the development of new technologies, we have a responsibility to help bring everyone into the digital economy. Along with helping employers reverse 20 years of decline in employment-based learning investments, we’ve also recently shared a number of free resources to help students learn the skills of the future. As my colleague Charlotte Yarkoni writes, the importance of bright young minds cannot be underestimated:
Doubling Down on Digital Transformation
We recently announced major investment plans and datacenter regions in Poland, New Zealand and Italy. In Italy, our “Ambizione Italia #DigitalRestart” plan includes an important focus on skilling an estimated 1.5 million students, professionals, and unemployed citizens over the next three years. This program builds on what Microsoft Italy has done in the last year to train more than half a million people on digital skills. This is even more of a priority now, as it is expected there may be up to half a million more unemployed people in Italy this year, with significant impact on the youngest and on key categories.
I was recently in conversation with Silvia Candiani, general manager of Microsoft Italia, to discuss how in this moment of change, it is more important than ever to invest in both skilling and infrastructure to empower all citizens. In an interview with La Repubblica, Silvia shared a great analogy for how we can think about the momentum technology brings to Italy’s efforts to emerge from Covid-19:
Spotlight on Zindi
Those of you who know me well know that empowering social entrepreneurs brings me great joy. They are the true enablers of positive change in this world, and I always learn something new from my conversations with them. I was glad to see Global Social Entrepreneurship Program participant Zindi featured recently in the Financial Times, where founder Celina Lee highlighted some of the obstacles and opportunities facing healthcare entrepreneurs in Africa. Zindi is a competition platform, dedicated to solving some of Africa’s most pressing problems by bringing together local data scientists and unleashing new ideas using machine learning and AI. Celina provides further insight into how Zindi is using Azure to mobilize these bright minds, create job opportunities and solve challenges in this recent Microsoft Build session.
Thank you, Celina, for bringing your passion and dedication to bear every single day. I couldn’t agree more with your perspective on how we tackle the world’s biggest challenges:
For millions of students and educators around the world, June often represents a very important milestone in the educational journey. While graduations feel very different this year, including for my own daughter, I’ve been encouraged to see how technology is bringing these celebrations together, even as we remain apart… From the Ritsumeikan Primary School in Japan enabling parents to join their children for a Live ceremony on Teams, to Newcastle University in the UK helping nearly 300 junior doctors record and upload their Hippocratic Oaths online so they could join the fight against Covid-19. I love this #Hello2020Graduates campaign from the Philippines as well:
Until Next Time
That’s all for now – I hope you’ve enjoyed this first edition. I welcome your thoughts and feedback on what I should read, listen and learn from, so please don’t hesitate to send me any ideas you may have.
Take care and au revoir,