Why these leaders left the corporate world for 'tech for good' - and never looked back

In a world full of volatility, many of us are looking for purpose in the work that we do. We’ve seen this reflected in an emerging trend in the technology sector – tech for good – which is attracting a diverse range of people, from long-tenured professionals to enthusiastic graduates, who are passionate about using their skills to create positive change in the world.  
We sat down with three individuals who left large multinational organisations to work in the tech for good space. We asked them about their motivations for such a move, and what the successes, challenges and rewards they have experienced at these start ups as they work to create a better future for all.

What made you decide to move to a role in Tech for Good?

Carolina Portela Duarte had a long career with some of the biggest names in the technology sector before taking a role as the chief sales and marketing officer at Citibeats, a start-up that provides data insights through AI. “When I joined Google, it was because of one of their corporate values ‘don’t be evil’. It’s important that technology is deployed and used in a responsible, ethical way – and Citibeats gave me the opportunity to change lives and make a positive impact on society. As a mother, I’m conscious that I want to create a better world, and this is my way of doing it,” says Carolina. 
After studying human biology, Lise Pape moved into advertising and later joined JP Morgan. Lise then completed a stint at the Danish embassy in London. For her next step, she wanted to pursue her original calling. Knowing that she wanted to work ‘for good’ and directly help others, she completed a course in innovation design engineering with a view to help people with mobility problems. She founded Walk with Path in Copenhagen in 2014.
Mitchell O’Gorman wanted to return to the social enterprise work that he was doing earlier in his career. After working in media with INM and Kantar, xWave Technologies approached him to come on board in 2020.
“I believe media plays a really important role in a functioning society, but I felt that I was one step removed from being able to really deliver impactful social good,” says Mitchell.
“I always had in my head that I was going to go back and do something to deliver meaningful social good. That's why, honestly, I jumped at the opportunity when I was approached by these radiologists to lead this organisation.”

Tell us one thing that’s better about working for a startup/scale-up in Tech for Good?

The culture in the tech for good space is a critical factor for Carolina. “We’re not working for ourselves, we’re working for people – this is very inspiring. My colleagues and I all share the same beliefs and values. It’s easier to fit in – if you work at a corporation, there might be people who don’t share those characteristics.”
For Lise, it’s the speed at which you can work that she enjoys and compares life at a start-up to operating a small speedboat as opposed to a large tanker. “Everyone will see the direct impact of their work. You hear how people who use the products have achieved things in their daily life. These testimonials help to drive us even when it’s hard.”
One of the challenges for Lise is that she feels a greater responsibility even if she does enjoy the ability to have direct impact. And there are issues surrounding healthtech overall. “We do a lot of clinical work. You can spend six months working on an application for funding. I know it’s the nature of the game but it’s still frustrating.”
For Mitchell and Carolina, working in tech for good means trying to change people’s outlook, which isn’t always easy. Mitchell understands why customers can be resistant: “It's hard for people to change their existing system. Just because you come out with a new digital system that is five times better, it doesn't mean that they're going to adopt it. They're already super busy! There's just that natural human resistance to change.”
Carolina adds: “When pitching, you’re speaking to people who might be attached to their old solution. I understand that they are decision-makers whose choices affect millions. We need to help them to help these people by letting them know that the tool will empower them.
“We need to educate society about sustainability and AI in general. That’s what we’re trying to do – promote the ethical AI community. One challenge is finding the right, non-techie, language. If clients, investors and partners cannot understand your language, you will not connect.”

What about your role do you enjoy most? 

Everyone agreed that they welcome the chance to connect with their customers who benefit from their work.
“What I really enjoy is having the opportunity to work with great people. It makes life easier because every day I’m working on something that will help others. All of us are working together to make this a better world,” says Carolina.
Mitchell adds: “You get to a point in your life where you think that there’s not much else you can learn and, all of a sudden, you're in this new industry. Learning from inspirational people has probably been the most rewarding part of the job to date. They're really amazing people who go into this for the same reason – to deliver positive outcomes for patients and society.”
Meanwhile Lise enjoys closing the gap between the company and its direct customers. “High up on the list is getting feedback from users and hearing how we’ve made a difference. We enjoy those wins we have as a team when things go well,” says Lise.

What is the importance of collaboration in Tech for Good?

As well as feeling good about rave reviews, Lise uses the feedback she gets to improve her products.   
“Collaboration with users is important. We try to have a continuous dialogue with people about their situation, but we need people you can trust to be brutally honest. This matters in tech for good because you’re developing something that works clinically, but it has no benefit if people don’t use it,” says Lise.
All three are at companies that were named in the Top 100 of the Super Connect for Good 2022 competition. This initiative formed by Hays and Empact Ventures, aims to reward the start-ups making positive societal change worldwide. It also connects these companies with one another, enabling them to work together for greater impact.
We asked them why is forming partnerships and connections so important in tech for good. Mitchell’s outlook is surprising and refreshing: “Start-ups can suffer from being a little bit too closed off. You can understand why they do it – they think somebody’s going to steal their idea. However, if you’re focused on delivering better patient outcomes and somebody does steal your idea, then your mission will be complete, even if it’s not you who’s completing it.”
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together!”, says Carolina, “I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”

What advice would you give to anybody who’s interested in working in Tech for Good?

For Mitchell, seeing the results of his hard work is what he enjoys the most.
“It's not always going to be easy. So, it depends on how highly delivering social positive social change ranks within your criteria for joining a company. If it's not there, then don't go for it. Leave those jobs available for the people who do care.
“You get to try your hand at lots of different things and, yes, sometimes you're working long hours, but it's also incredibly rewarding. Getting in early and really influencing the direction and ultimate impact of the organisation is incredibly thrilling,” he says.
Lise’s advice is to find the right fit: “It’s important that you feel aligned with the company’s mission and that it motivates you. If you’re passionate about the mission, you’ll be really happy.”
Carolina gives a final call to arms: “Go for it! We need more people accounting for a better world and a better future!”