When the International Olympic Committee settled on Vancouver for the 2010 games, Bruce Dewar, MOT ’92, wanted to make sure the region could survive it. Host cities have suffered devastating economic fallout, and Dewar was determined that the Vancouver Games would give back to the community as much as it reaped.
As CEO of 2010 Legacies Now, he developed and supported projects to help British Columbia leverage the games to strengthen local communities—an effort that the International Olympic Committee has lauded as best practice. Today, seven years after the event, Dewar is still tapping the impact of the Games. In 2011 he launched a venture philanthropy organization called LIFT Philanthropy Partners that grew out of the new enterprise climate generated by the Olympic Games.
LIFT invests in building the capacity, sustainability, and impact of charities, nonprofits, and social enterprises working to remove barriers to health, education, and employment for vulnerable Canadians. Dewar, who is president and CEO, says that LIFT is improving the fabric of society. “We’re building self-sufficiency. We’re building confidence. We’re building support networks.”
It’s called Happie, and even before reaching its one-year anniversary, the pioneering job search startup has earned a right to the name. Happie leverages digital matchmaking innovations to connect job hunters with employers more speedily and productively than conventional online systems. Founder and CEO Jennifer Fremont-Smith, SF ’10, calls it “speed-dating for job hunters,” and her inventive model has caught on quickly. Already, more than 300 employers are working with the site, and the number of Happie job seekers has climbed into the thousands.
Fremont-Smith’s premise was this: prospective employers and employees today feel very much at home in the digital environment. “It’s where they bank, communicate with friends and family, and access their entertainment,” Fremont-Smith notes. “They’re also used to posting selfies and videos, so creating an arena where job hunters and providers can meet and chat via video falls well within the contemporary comfort zone. And in the potentially stressful job search realm, those familiar tools make for a welcoming experience.”
Ingenious apps are exploding on the marketplace daily, but they have little worth if the people they’re designed for have no interest in using them. Keiko Miyazaki, SF ’14, head of global strategy and marketing for PanaHome Asia Pacific, Panasonic’s real estate arm, says the construction industry is a case in point.
Not everyone is comfortable living and working in digital environments, Miyazaki points out, and professionals in the construction industry, as a group, tend to be more resistant than most. Based in forward-focused Singapore, PanaHome is expanding across Asia into Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where builders and contractors are more deeply entrenched in traditional methods.
Miyazaki entered the building industry two years ago motivated to help advance it into its digital future, one of Panasonic’s key goals. She says the industry naturally lends itself to digital tools and that those tools have the power to increase creativity, efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. She gives as an example apps that aim to produce a sort of virtual construction site, digitizing all aspects of a building project in one central cloud-based database, making it easy to monitor individual—as well as intersecting—aspects of a project as it progresses.