Dex Torricke-Barton (full)

Who is your inspiration as a leader?

Albert Einstein. As a scientist, he devoted his life to answering the most complex questions in physics.

But even while focusing on something incredibly theoretical, he didn't lose sight of his responsibility as an individual - or the responsibility of scientists in general - to think deeply about the social impact of science, technology and all the institutions that people create.

Most people don't know this, but Einstein was a passionate advocate for building a stronger multilateral world order, and for the rights of refugees - even helping to found the International Rescue Committee, which continues to help millions of refugees every year.

We must always remember that technology and science are here to serve humanity, and not the other way round. Great leaders in tech remember that, and have a perspective that is broader than just our industry.

What fascinates you about your line of work?

Technology is about building systems that can drive human progress. The individual products on their own are not that interesting to me - what's really fascinating is the impact those products create in society, either individually or cumulatively as an industry.

We live in a huge and complex world, with infinite numbers of systems and institutions interacting with each other. Technology has far reaching effects within and between those systems, and charting the effects of tools and services on different people, industries, communities is something you can spend your entire life exploring in great detail. Being able to work with leaders and organizations who are driving those effects is a huge privilege.

If someone were to write a book about your life, what would it be called?

Trying to Reach Inbox Zero and Failing.

If you could high five anyone?

I thought high fiving went out of fashion in the 90s? Apparently I'm either too cool, or not cool enough to be high fiving still.

What is the most important skill that all leaders should have?

Knowing your limits. If you're the world's smartest person in one particular field, you can still be an idiot on lots of other things. Great leaders know that most of the time, they don't know most things. Being able to surround yourself with talented people, and being able to empower them and accept advice from them, is a trait that every leader should have - but not all leaders unfortunately do.

In your opinion, what is the best feature in the ‘Googleplex’?

I don't think of features in terms of physical perks. Sure, it's nice to have free food, and standing desks. But great people don't show up because of a nice office. They care about having an impact, and being able to come to work every day to deliver their best.

Can tech innovations really improve a face-to-face industry?

Technology isn't a substitute for human-to-human communication, it's always at best an enabler. To build relationships with people, and to really share a common experience, you need to spend time in each other's company. But tech can certainly help connect people around those moments - I probably wouldn't be joining you to speak if it weren't for technology!

Dex will be presenting at IBTM World in Barcelona on the 29th November. Register to attend at www.ibtmworld.com

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