I’ve said it loudly and often – the superpower of the public sector is the freedom to collaborate and share. I’ve also said that the private sector doesn’t enjoy this same power among commercial competitors, but true strategic relationships with cities is an important part of bringing that superpower to life. Together we can do well by doing good.
I spent time as a startup founder learning how important it is to listen to the client, even when you’re helping them discover the value of something that didn’t exist before, much less appear in their strategic plan. The better part of the last decade I spent in my “public service sabbatical” learning again, how to serve the customer, this time the people of my community. Starting in my hometown of El Paso, Texas, then vibrant San Francisco, and finally the bright lights of New York City, I’ve had the distinct honor of serving the mayors and people of these great American cities.
This body of work developed a mantra that I hope is embraced by cities and corporations alike, #MakeTechWorkForPeople. When emerging technology is doing its best work it will have meaningful impact on people’s lives, drive positive outcomes in communities, and improve everyday experiences – inclusively and equitably.
Cities are the catalysts for sustainable change, but face the challenge of limited resources, complex demands, and a natural attraction to the quick solution and implementation. It takes courageous leadership and bold vision to look well beyond the election cycle, partner with like-minded civic leaders, and open dialogue with allies from the private sector to do hard work for the greater good.
Initiatives like Finland’s Smart & Clean Helsinki Metropolitan are great examples of collaboration among “cities, citizens, companies, and research organizations” to mitigate the impact of climate change while delivering better solutions and quality of life for the people that live in the region. While I was CTO of New York City, we launched a new program to engage the industry to help tackle the greatest urban challenges, NYCx. In the spirit of international collaboration, we partnered with Paris, France as we launched our Climate Action Challenge, focused on the rapid expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In a matter of weeks, numerous creative solutions built on emerging technology were proposed and a few selected to demonstrate on the streets of NYC and Paris.
As I have moved into my new role as Head of Global Cities at Mastercard, I now bring all of my experiences together to serve cities around the world. An entrepreneurial spirit, startup attitude, and deep empathy for the complexity of running large urban cities – all of which is embedded in our recently launched program, City Possible. This program will continue to develop a global network of cities, private sector partners, and academic research institutions to build a path toward a sustainable urban future, strengthen the equity and inclusivity of communities and serve the new triple bottom line: people, cities, and business.
I will continue to champion the power of shared learning and the network effect that occurs when great minds with great purpose unite. Working together we’ll ensure that cities build on the progress already made by those who worked on these issues before, and prioritize common goals and standards that accelerate sustainable change and realize endless possibilities for people in cities in every corner of the world.
New models of collaboration supported by industry leaders like City Possible are symbols of a new era of public-private, private-private and public-public partnerships – who wants to join in?