Cisco innovator and MBA student says community ripe for collective learning and experimentation


By Lisa Bailey, Axiom News

Published 1.29.13


Lisa Voss

Lisa Voss describes herself as “an insider activist,” working within large corporations for organizational change and collectively creating structures to reshape the influence corporations can have on the world.

And she says she’s also searching for “an ecosystem of players outside of organizations that might be ready to coalesce” for systemic change for the greater good, which is why Presidio Graduate School was a natural fit for the part-time studies of this Cisco Systems employee.

“What I tell all my co-workers is that it’s an MBA for activists,” says Voss, who leads innovation leadership and capability development at Cisco Services Innovation Excellence Center.

She says the Presidio community is fertile collaborative ground for her to help convene conversations and harness energy in the sustainability movement. During orientation, for instance, she recalls hearing — and believes — that between the current students, alumni, and faculty, one is no more than one or two steps away from everybody who’s anybody in the sustainability movement.

“The chance to immerse myself in that community and set up conversations at this moment in history in Silicon Valley in particular (means) there’s no more potent place to be,” Voss says.

She also points to Presidio’s Entrepreneur Club —one of the school’s many student clubs —  which provides opportunities to network, share ideas and exchange information among students interested in start-ups or who already own a business.

“That’s a really potentially generative hub,” Voss says, who has also followed the social entrepreneurship movement for about 10 years.

“It’s about harnessing the tools and mechanisms of business but pointing them at solving the most pressing problems in the world,” she says. “Lots of different approaches and efforts and passions are engaged but the process of ‘entrepreneuring’ in this space I think is so exciting and forward moving.

“And so when you ask, what’s the best thing that could happen, it’s to generate more and more of these thoughtful, forward-moving, collaborative experiments that build toward a future we haven’t created yet,” Voss says.

She says Presidio’s systemic approach to solutions melds with the change movement, driven by the realization that nothing else is working. “The issues are too big and our attempts and to date have been too small, and there’s mass recognition of that.”

With its emphasis on community, collaboration and a systems view, Presidio is a “greenhouse for leadership” in the next phase of society, she says.

“This explicit development of a transformation movement using the lever of higher education is really transformation,” Voss says.

Axiom News  provides brand journalism  to Presidio Graduate School. To read more news stories, click here.

Lisa Bailey, Axiom News

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