Want to learn how to have a career in data, development and social impact?
On episode 7 Season 10 of The Social Change Career Podcast, host Craig Zelizer sits down with Karla Yee Amezaga, Lead for Data Policy at the World Economic Forum. They discuss Carla's experience in data development policy and working for organizations like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. The podcast delves into the practical meaning of Carla's role and focuses on how technology, data ethics, and empathy can be used for positive social change, including the importance of modernizing services while ensuring equity and inclusion. They also talk about career development in international development, including networking tips, building a portfolio, and the value of formal education and online training.
Bio: Karla Yee Amezaga is originally from Mexico. She is passionate about data policy issues, data privacy, geospatial analysis, and exploring how data can promote digital transformation of governments, trusted cross-sector collaboration, better user-centric services, and inclusive and sustainable development around the world. Currently, she is Platform Curator for Data Policy at the World Economic Forum in San Francisco, California. Prior to joining the Forum, Karla worked at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank in Washington, D.C., supporting data analysis, digital transformation of governments and statistical capacity building. Before that, she worked at the OECD, Ashoka Changemakers, and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Karla holds a master’s degree in International Affairs from the University of California - San Diego (UCSD), and bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and in International Relations from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM)
Timestamped Overview (Transcript)
[00:03:32] The speaker discusses their career involving data analysis, collection, and policy-making for social change. They emphasize the importance of both quantitative and qualitative skills and the need for data to be used to inform decision-making. They have worked with various organizations, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, to promote best practices, capacity building, and responsible regulation and governance.
[00:09:31] The IDB helps governments modernize by incorporating technology responsibly and designing user-centered services, while also taking into account digital gaps and promoting inclusion and equity.
[00:12:47] Being empathetic towards the evidence, quantitative skills, coding and the ability to translate data into valuable insights are key skills needed in the international development field. Accessible programming languages such as Python and R are suggested. Data interpretation, messaging and transparency are important elements.
[00:18:36] Check sources, cite them, strengthen statistical systems, and promote data sharing for economic benefits and transparency. ESG metrics and related indicators have positive impacts on reputation and economy.
[00:21:52] Traditional education programs still have value for skill set and networking, but can be expensive. Complement with online training certificates and self-directed projects to build a portfolio of skills and deliverables. Internships and virtual volunteering are also valuable for skill development and networking.
[00:28:38] Indicators are important for measuring success, but they don't tell the whole story. Organizations should not focus solely on numbers and data, but also consider contextual elements and human experience.
[00:33:29] The author sees a need for ethical use and handling of data, better data governance, and collaboration among governments in regulating data sharing. They also predict more proactive government service delivery using data, and the need to integrate different data sources.
[00:38:13] Self-sovereign identity and decentralized data sharing models, such as Gaia X, are becoming more prevalent. Data intermediaries can protect the privacy of those with low levels of data literacy. Sharing insights from processed data can be a more secure way of handling data.
[00:41:43] Creating a data center culture within government is important; data champions are needed to coordinate and steward data, and open data systems should be standardized and communicated effectively. Communication channels and feedback loops are also necessary for ensuring data quality and relevance.
[00:52:18] Networking and a strong elevator pitch are important skills for opening doors for jobs in international development. Reverse engineering skills needed and connecting with people already in organizations is helpful. Additional language skills and flexibility to travel are advantageous. Organizations are horizontal, offering the chance to move between teams and issues. Being open to working in global teams is important, even if the language is unknown.
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