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Contributing to a better world and positively influencing society starting from training that allows us to look to the future and to change with critical awareness and conscience. This is the goal of Cristina Pozzi, popularizer and social entrepreneur, CEO and Co-Founder of Impactscool, the organization founded at the end of 2016 to spread greater knowledge on the impacts of emerging technologies on society through free training activities in schools, universities and in companies. To find out more and understand why it is so important to create "images of the future" we had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Pozzi who, on this occasion, told us something about herself. 

guest of honorCristina, you are among the 40 European Young Leaders of 2020 for the non-profit organization Friends of Europe, or rather among the people capable of giving innovative answers to new international challenges. What does receiving this recognition mean to you?

For me it is a challenge and at the same time a huge responsibility because this recognition gives the people who receive it a series of truly useful opportunities both for personal growth and as a tool to do more in the sector for which they have been nominated. of the group. Being part of it allows me a comparison on the one hand with the many people who in their countries are carrying out wonderful activities with respect to education al future, on the other with the political decision makers. Dialogue with them is essential because new laws are needed to accelerate the changes that start from the bottom.

In 2016 you founded Impactscool, an organization dedicated to Future Critical Thinking. What exactly is it about?

I like to say that Impactscool deals with education of the future but also of education al future. The organization was born at the end of 2016 to create greater awareness of the impacts of emerging technologies on society and bring, also in Italy, a more structured reflection on the future through free training activities in schools, universities and also in companies to train managers and employees and inspire them in the innovation process. We also deal with scientific dissemination through our online journal, Impactscool Magazine.

What is the goal of Impactscool?

The goal is to transmit innovative methods to teachers and students that enable them to think about the future in a scientific way with a critical attitude, through tools capable of accompanying reasoning in a simple, linear and orderly way. It is an approach that allows, on the one hand, to understand which aspects of the future we are able to influence, even individually, and how; on the other it allows us to understand the opposite, that is which of these aspects we cannot change and what impact they will have on our lives. It's about understanding how to react to unexpected changes, let's think about Covid19 and give an example: it's not possible to avoid the pandemic but we can prepare ourselves to act in the best possible way. With simulations it is possible to investigate the potential dynamics associated with a similar event and develop useful strategies. It's about training an action-oriented thinking that allows us both to cope with changes and to learn how to plan our actions in the best way to be more responsible and aware people, even with respect to society.

How did your entrepreneurial adventure begin? 

It was 2006, I had a degree in Economics and I was involved in strategic consultancy in a multinational consultancy firm. My boss, Andrea Dusi, offered me to set up on my own and I accepted. This first work experience ended with the sale of the company and, since 2016, we have dedicated ourselves to Impactscool. We firmly believed in the importance of "knowing" how to think about the future, even in the long term, and to use this ability to make better decisions. We felt the desire to contribute to a change that was also cultural... and therefore we started from the schools.

Did you find it difficult to create a new “scientific” environment? 

Yes. When we entered schools in 2016 and said we were there to educate al future people looked at us with suspicion, they showed greater interest only when we talked about emerging technologies, which represent only a part of the elements of the future scenarios. For us it is important to talk about artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computers but that's not all. Despite this, we understood that it was better for us to present ourselves as a project linked to new technologies while using methods linked to Future Critical Thinking and so we began our adventure. Today things are different, the word future is used more and more, it is almost a mantra, and what we do is very interesting, that is, teaching to imagine the future in a scientific way. While before we mostly worked abroad, now we are contacted by an increasing number of Italian companies requesting our training services.

What goal would you like to achieve that represents “nothing is impossible”?

My desire is to reach over time, with Impactscool, all Italian students to pass on to them these new methods and contents on the Future Critical Thinking thus creating a real revolution within our educational system. We are pursuing this important objective through the training of the teachers we supervise and to whom we make all our resources available.

Can you tell us about a particularly important moment in your life?

Yes, I would like to tell you about the moment in my life when I "changed direction". I had just started an internship as a consultant in Milan and I was working with Andrea Dusi, my boss. One day he invited me for a coffee and on that occasion he offered me to help him in his business project. The activity would not have brought me a salary and would have involved sacrifices because in any case the time available had to be reconciled with work and the rest of my commitments. Despite this, working with Andrea was stimulating every time: I always had a lot to learn from the projects I was collaborating on and, moreover, I had a lot of fun: so I couldn't say no! Well, there's something I often repeat to students when they have to make a choice about their job: always try to be in a place where you can learn a lot and where there are people you enjoy collaborating with and from whom you can learn to grow. 

Before that day I would never have thought of doing business, if they had "predicted" it I would never have believed it. From that collaboration, after a few years, Impactscool was born. Here is this anecdote that tells my dynamics as an entrepreneur and since then, taking inspiration from my experience, I have tried to teach young people to choose the career path that allows them to learn and enjoy themselves with the most stimulating people.

Someone who changed your life?

Surely a person who has changed my path, even a lot, is my partner Andrea Dusi. He was the one who trained me to think outside the box and step out of my comfort zone. Starting to work with him was a “Sliding doors” moment in my life. Today what we try to teach through our methods of approaching the future is that there are many options available. There is no single possible future, there are many possible paths to take and it is good to examine them all.

Creativity is the basis of research. For you, what value does it have in work and in life?

I believe that creativity is one of the most important skills that we can train and acquire over time because it allows us to break the mold and therefore make choices that are not taken for granted. Creativity allows us to invent solutions, take unexplored paths and this is an important aspect also in working life because we find ourselves in a context in which the need to be able to solve very complex problems increases more and more, in an increasingly interconnected world and globalised. Opening your mind allows you to develop an aptitude for problem solving even with respect to new problems, which is why creativity becomes one of the most requested skills in the world of work of the future, just a good logical ability is not enough. However, we must underline the aspect of learning: you are not born creative, you can train through specific methodologies!

"Welcome to 2050" is your book, a real tourist guide where the destination is the future. Prepared for all those who want to understand the impact that innovation and technology will have on our lives, the guide offers us not one but many scenarios for 2050... what message would you like to convey "to the future" from 2020?

Since 2020 I would like to apologize for all the mistakes we have unfortunately made but also to send a positive message because it is from today that the change can begin. I wish I could say 2050 "Do you remember when in 2020 we realized that we need to live according to a more sustainable logic and we started to change our ways?" It is a matter of taking small steps starting today that will lead us to a better future.

The lockdown has imposed a lifestyle where the use of "technology" has undergone a stress test that was unthinkable until a few months ago. In your opinion, as an observer of the future, will this lead to a permanent change in lifestyles? Positive or negative?

I think this increase in the use of technology is very important even if unfortunately it has come in the worst possible way. It has created a huge awareness in all of us that we have technological tools available and too often we don't know how to use them. A first step has also been taken in the school world, with distance education, but doing things differently requires an education in new working and teaching methods. Now it is important to familiarize yourself with the various tools available to always include them, even if you work or teach in presence. Digital is not just a distraction or something that separates us but it is something that unites us and allows us to collaborate better, the most important aspect right now is to seize these opportunities precisely because technology can give us new tools to do things differently. In my opinion, the change can only be positive.

The "future" has long been a subject of study and in Finland it is even a subject taught in primary school. Italians are culturally deeply rooted in traditions, which are rooted in the cradle of civilization. What could be the benefits if young people in Italy followed "lessons of the future"? 

Studying the future does not mean abandoning traditions, on the contrary, it means analyzing the present and the past, although it may seem counterintuitive. In reality, if we want to have the right approach to the future, we must start well rooted in what we know, such as the dynamics that have influenced the great changes in history in the past. Doing this allows you to find a series of suggestions and ideas on how the future could evolve. Clearly we cannot predict exactly how things will go, however the present and the past can provide useful models for dealing with changes. In this sense it is important to underline how useful disciplines such as history are: sometimes students fail to understand why this subject is so important precisely because they do not know how they will use it in their work. Going to understand the roots and traditions instead allows us to better understand the future. A second aspect regarding the benefits that can be had by going "to school of the future" is to train the mind to redesign things and question them, a useful skill in work as in private life. There are multiple possible futures and it is important that people are responsible and aware of the fact that we can always do better. The whole society benefits from it.

Why is it so important to create images of the future?

Creating images of the future is a fundamental operation that we actually perform every time we make a choice based on mental projections. An example is when we decide how to dress and whether to take an umbrella with us, thinking about the day ahead. Here, on a longer timeline we can project our holidays, a course of study, imagine whether one day we will have children or not ... All the choices we make take into account the "future" that we have built in our minds and imagine more “futures” allows for more options. In my case I had never thought of becoming an entrepreneur but when this image made its way into my mind it completely changed my life for the positive, providing me with “more” choices that I hadn't considered before. Furthermore, the images of the future that we have in mind are very important because they guide our actions and therefore in fact end up self-realizing: we are so influenced by our projections that we end up acting in their direction. This is why it is very important to broaden one's images of the future; the next step is to learn to identify what may be "preferable futures" for us but also for the community, in a sustainable and inclusive way. 

What do you think will be the winning characteristics and skills for the world of work of tomorrow?

Surely in addition to creativity, which we have already mentioned, there are a series of fundamental soft skills for the world of work of tomorrow such as the ability to work in a team, the ability to communicate, the ability to solve complex problems and finally the ability to " connect the dots” apparently separated with a horizontal and interdisciplinary attitude. Another very important aspect is that of the transfer of knowledge in different fields: the world of work of the future will be very flexible, therefore those who have developed the ability to move between different sectors will have an advantage, with a view to continuous learning. From a practical point of view, I advise everyone to familiarize themselves with programming languages ​​and artificial intelligence. All the jobs of the future will have to do with these technologies, it is important to learn to communicate with them. There is more though. Personally I think it is very important to have critical skills in one's baggage, to analyze problems and to make orderly reasoning... for this reason I enrolled in a university course in Philosophy.

Finally, a message for today's youth, adults in 2050?

My message is a "thank you" because it will be thanks to their energy and enthusiasm that we will be able to solve the problems that afflict us today, starting with climate change. We can provide these young people with the tools so that they can best achieve these objectives and at the same time we must give them room for action. I am an optimist and the scenario I see is positive, that's why I want to thank the young people I address: keep going with your enthusiasm and with the desire to change things for the better, it is thanks to you that we will go in the right direction!