In an interview for the 2018 Alumni Bulletin, Sophie Guerin '01'97 reflects on the future of sustainable business, her time at Convent and living abroad.
The following is an interview with Sophie Guerin, originally published in the 2018 Convent & Stuart Hall Alumni Bulletin.
Last spring, President Ann Marie Krejcarek and Head of Convent High School Rachel Simpson traveled to Singapore to attend the IB Global Conference. During their stay, they took the opportunity to meet and reconnect with Sophie Guerin '01'97, who lives and works in the global innovation hub, serving as the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dell. She is responsible for leading the company's diversity and inclusion strategy across Asia. The Bulletin reached out to Sophie and asked her to reflect on the future of sustainable business, her time at Convent and living abroad.
What do you remember most about your time at Convent?
My strongest memories were the experiences that helped me build a sense of confidence at a time when I was perhaps my most vulnerable. I enrolled at Convent in seventh grade at a difficult time in my life. I had lost several close family members in rapid succession, and I was struggling at the large middle school that I had recently moved into. Convent provided a safe, nurturing environment that allowed me to find my voice and discover new areas of interest, ultimately building a strong foundation of confidence. Most importantly, the teachers were invested in my success both inside and outside of the classroom, going out of their way to ensure that my family and I were successful and welcome at the school. To this day, I am still closely connected with my former teachers and classmates, who remain a key part of my professional and personal journey.
What attracted you to Asian culture, and why did you decide to work abroad?
My mom is a midwife and spent much of her career working with underserved populations in the U.S. and internationally. As a child, we spent a great deal of time on the road in Asia and Central and South America where she worked in various communities. After enrolling at New York University, I returned to Asia and ultimately settled in China after completing my studies. Working and living abroad has not always been easy. However, the opportunity to learn about other cultures, different people, and new ways of seeing and thinking about the world has continuously inspired me. My husband and I have lived in New York, China, France, Hong Kong, and today, Singapore, where we continue to learn an enormous amount about the world and have great adventures while doing so!
Briefly explain what diversity and inclusion means to businesses.
Inclusion and diversity is the future of sustainable business. To drive innovation and future success, companies must be diverse. The customer is changing, and leadership is transforming. For companies to be successful in the future, they must reflect the customer and drive an inclusive culture that enables diversity.
How do you describe your role at Dell?
Ultimately my role is to drive strategic change in Asia. My role has both internal and external facing elements. I consult with our internal leadership, including executives as well as human resources, to advise on best practices, review performance, drive programs and provide market insights. I work externally with our customers to consult on best practices and drive partnership programs. I also speak extensively at industry events, serve on local business councils, and participate in print, digital and TV interviews.
What inspired you to connect with President Ann Marie Krejcarek and Head of Convent High School Rachel Simpson on their recent trip to Singapore?
I'm a strong believer in investing and giving back to communities. My time at Convent was a powerful one, and while I am no longer a student, I am invested in the continued success of the school and am keen to support however I can regardless of proximity. Having the opportunity to reconnect with Rachel and Ann Marie was a unique opportunity to connect with the Convent community once again in person.
By 2040, many of the children born this year will be entering the workforce. How do you imagine workplaces will look in 2040, and how can schools best equip their students?
Recently Dell conducted a study of 3,800 business leaders on the future of the workforce, called Realizing 2030. The study found that the number two factor for companies to be successful in the future was workforce readiness. Additional research from Ernst & Young, McKinsey, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other organizations points to the fact that agility, adaptability, flexibility, emotional competence and creativity will be the necessary skills of the future. The reality is that the jobs of the future have not yet been created. Instead we need to promote a learning mindset from an early age to enable students to be successful well into the future of a changing landscape.
What do you think you've carried with you from your Convent days while traveling and working around the world?
A service mindset, compassion, resiliency and a passion for learning. Being a teenager is never easy, but Convent provided a space for me to build confidence, explore my interests and learn how to give back. These fundamental lessons gave me the courage to take risks and discover my career interests while striving to enable the success of others.