#69 Urban Innovation Leadership Programme: Talent Attraction and Upskilling

Episode 75 March 27, 2024 00:38:30
#69 Urban Innovation Leadership Programme: Talent Attraction and Upskilling
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#69 Urban Innovation Leadership Programme: Talent Attraction and Upskilling

Mar 27 2024 | 00:38:30


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In this second episode of our Urban Innovation Leadership Programme series, we welcomed Jose Antonio Ondiviela, who after 29 years of experience leading Microsoft's Smart Cities initiatives, is now spearheading his own research department at the Universidad Francisco de Victoria in Madrid, Spain.

The discussion focused on talent attraction and development within cities: the global competition for talent as a cornerstone for attracting investment, the significance of upskilling and creating a vibrant city brand to appeal emotionally and rationally to potential residents, and the essential role of public-private partnerships in fostering environments conducive to talent development.


Urban Innovators Global and BABLE Smart Cities are proud to announce the launch of the Urban Innovation Leadership Programme – an academic programme that is tailored and totally customizable for your organization. If this sparks your interest, you can reach out directly to us at [email protected] for more information.


Overview of the episode:

[00:02:22] Teaser Question: If cities were on a dating app trying to match with investors, what kind of upskilling would they put in their profile to become the ultimate catch?

[00:07:17] How does the fight for talent manifest itself in cities striving to be smart? Are there specific sectors or industries more aggressive in this fight?

[00:12:28] What jobs are most in demand in this fight for talent, especially considering the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

[00:12:52] ​Examples of cities that have successfully attracted top talent for Smart City initiatives. What strategies did they employ?

[00:16:32] ​How can public-private partnerships foster an environment conducive to talent development in smart cities?

[00:19:24] ​In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, who is leading, and how do public-private partnerships impact a city's attractiveness?

[00:23:14] How do mid-sized cities contribute to the global competition for talent?

[00:25:41] ​How can the concept of time and efficiency in urban mobility change the landscape of city attractiveness?

[00:26:08] ​How does Jose respond to concerns that the push towards smart cities might worsen regional disparities through brain drain?

[00:30:18] ​Are there any common misconceptions about developing talent within cities that Jose would like to debunk?

[00:33:44] Shoutout: our guest mentions a person, a city or any other organisation they think deserve more recognition in the field.

[00:35:17] Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Welcome to Smart in the city, the BABLE podcast, where we bring together top actors in the smart city arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. [00:00:21] Tamlyn Shimizu: I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope you will enjoy this episode. [00:00:25] Tamlyn Shimizu: And gain knowledge and connections to accelerate. [00:00:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: The change for a better urban life. [00:00:31] Tamlyn Shimizu: Smart in the city is brought to you by BABLE Smart Cities we enable processes from research and strategy development to co creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at BABLE Smartcities EU. [00:00:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: So today we are back with our unofficial series highlighting leadership in urban innovation as part of our brand new program together with Urban Innovators Global the Urban Innovation Leadership Academic program. This program is designed to be intensive, tailored courses for your municipality or organization and is delivered by some of the most experienced practitioners and professors in the field from across the world. So today we want to talk about a very important topic, and it's the fight for talent in cities and the need to upskill talent for investment. So with me today, I have a perfect person to talk about this topic, and his name is Jose Antonio Ondiviela. He's really experienced. He has 29 years of experience at Microsoft's leading the smart cities work there. He's now leading his own research department at the Univacidad Francisco de Victoria in Madrid, and now he's a strategic advisor for cities as well, including of course the city of Sarakosa in Spain. Welcome, Jose. [00:01:49] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Hey, welcome. How are you? [00:01:51] Tamlyn Shimizu: I am doing very well. Yeah. Happy to be talking to you today and getting all of your knowledge on talent and skills and how that plays into the overall scheme of smart city cities. So I like to start off with a little bit of a teaser to get us warmed up. So the teaser I have for you today is if cities were on a dating app trying to match with investors, what kind of upskilling would they put in their profile to become the ultimate catch? [00:02:22] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, the cities are in a global competition for talent because talent is the driver for investors. Now the companies are looking for the best cities that could provide the talent they need. That's the main situation. When Amazon was choosing the second headquarters in the United States, they found many states providing all kinds of benefits, taxes, land, water, economic benefits. But finally, they choose the best place or the best equipped place in terms of talent. So talent is the city's prosperity recipe, and everybody is now fighting to retain the talent they are naturally providing or nurturing and competing with the rest of the world cities to attract the most talented persons. [00:03:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: So in their dating profile they would put we have the most talented people and we're nurturing the best talent in the world. [00:03:36] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Exactly. So any city today in the world would like to increase one step each and every of the different segments they have in the talent pyramid with a propose to become more attractive to investors. That's the competition. [00:03:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, sounds good. I'm excited to dig into it a little bit more, but before we get into the brunt of it, I want to ask you a bit more about yourself. I know you have a very interesting background. You've worked at Microsoft for 29 years, you're a professor. What led you to where you are today? How did you get into cities? Tell us a bit of your story, please. [00:04:22] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well honestly, I think cities and the associated technology for cities are my mission on this planet are my passion and I dedicating all my time to explore, to understand how the cities are now becoming more attractive for talent. So that's my mission here. [00:04:48] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. But tell us also, where are you from originally? How did you start your career? [00:04:57] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, I started my career as a telecommunications engineer, so basically a technologist working for several companies, mainly for Microsoft, leading the technology adoption for public sector and mainly cities. But I understood that I had to cover many or to fulfill many areas in my background associated to humanism. So I came back to the university and I made a PH doctorship on humanism associated to cities. Because we can design wonderful technology solutions and applications, but if those are not in use by the citizens, if you are not listening to your citizens before you are creating those citizen services, they have no merit, nobody will use it. And you should better get rid of them and go back again. And this time listen to your citizens and try to produce something they can use. So we need to place the human at the very center, front and center of everything we do, then understand that in our city we have a place, and this is the second sphere, the urbanism, and then we have a third main sphere, that is the data sphere. No data, no services. So we need a combination of these three worlds, humanism, urbanism and technology and all combined, and finally creating attractive and brilliant cities for the future. [00:06:48] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, and I think that relates so closely to how also at BABLE we're envisioning what smartcities means with this human, this governance, this technology, dimensions that really encompass what a city is. So from your perspective, how does the fight for talent really manifest itself in cities striving to be smart? And are there specific sectors or industries that are a bit more aggressive in this fight that we think that you want to highlight. [00:07:17] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, in this fight for talent, the cities are trying to make those talented citizens to make the decision to go living in that city. And this decision is a human decision. So we have the left brain and the right brain, and in our left brain we have the emotional component. First of all, I need to laugh. This city, and this is based on the image I have from this particular city, the branding. And this is the consequence of my experience in that city, or everything I have received or all information I have received about that city. This is the magnetism. This is a city I could go living there. And the second component in any human decision is the rational component. It's a good deal for me living in that city. And then you make your numbers. I call it the city profitability. And it's something like a contract. I call it citizenship contract in that contract. And we all have this implicit contract with our cities. There are some Gibson Gates. We receive a list of different services from the city, and in exchange we pay a price, a cost of opportunity price, because of living in that city. If you were doing your same professional activity in a different city, you will have different wages, different taxes, and at the end of the month, different pocket money for you to purchase things. And because of the different net purchase power of the different cities, you will finally have different things. You have the opportunity to purchase more or less and different things at the end of the month. And this is the price that you are paying because you are living in that particular city. So in that competition, the cities are trying to become attractive from the magnetism point of view and also from the services and economic point of view. So these are the main components for that. There are cities that are very much attractive on the economic point of view, and they had invested little on the smart city, basically because they didn't need it. And I can mention the german cities, the swiss cities and other very prosperous cities from the economic point of view. And in the other hand, we have cities that are not so prosperous and they are overspending or over investing on smart city technologies to compensate, to use technology as a component of their branding, creating a city with a brilliant future, investing more in the smart city plan in innovation, and projecting this image as an innovative city. So these two areas, these two motions in this fight for talent. [00:10:35] Tamlyn Shimizu: So you think that this specific sectors doesn't matter so much as long as the companies are, I guess, innovative and forward thinking and can attract that talent to the city? Or are there specific industries within cities that are much more attractive to people? [00:10:54] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, more than talking about different sectors, I prefer to talk about creative roles or creative jobs. And this is coming from what Professor Florida explained in the concept of the creative class. We are all creative by DNA, more or less, which is not so much creative is our jobs. So we need to create creative jobs and avoid repetitive operational jobs because those jobs will be taken by robots. We are at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution and we need to face the fact that robots are making those repetitive operational jobs much better than us. Okay. The idea is the most demanding jobs are those associated to creative activities. Many of them associated to the STEM areas, science, technology, engineering and maths. Because with those capabilities, you can create everything associated to technology, artificial intelligence, algorithms, analytics, everything that is using the latest technology to create things or to translate the human creativity on a new solution proposal. Idea innovation. [00:12:28] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay, yeah, it makes sense. I know you've looked at so many cities across the world as to how are they attracting talent, what makes them attractive? Can you share some examples of cities that have successfully attracted top talent for smart city initiatives especially? And what strategies did they employ? [00:12:52] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, we are steering 175 top cities in the world. All of them have some kind of attractions. And all of them are cities where you can live without any risk to your life. So this is the minimum requirement. We can group them on advanced cities, mainly the western civilization cities, plus the ASeAN tigers. Then we have the challengers. And here we can find mainly the Middle east and central and eastern Europe. Then emerging the very famous brick wall. And I can extract the eye India into the group of starters. India together with Africa are in this latest position in this global competition. There are cities that are super investing on new technologies. For example, creating new meta city areas or using metaverse technologies to attract talent because they face significant problems associated to their geolocation or weather conditions. For example, Sewul, Doha, Singapore are creating these extraordinarily attractive virtual walls to try to capture your attention, to capture your intellectual activities, not your body. Your body may remain in Germany, but if I am capturing your intellectual capacity, then I am gaining your capacity to create wealth to make the city more profitable. And I can tell you, on the other hand, we have cities with strong magnetism because of the culture, the strong image. Iconic cities from Europe mainly and especially from the south of Europe, but are now at the edge of dropping the group of the advanced and going to the challenges because they are facing significant problems mainly associated to economy. Basically those are taxes health. Okay. And they are making those cities not so much attractive for the talented citizens. So they need to compensate. And they are trying to invest as well on smart city technologies to compensate these excess in the tax equation. So the idea is always a balance, a balance between magnetism and profitability. A city that is fulfilling all of our emotions but also fulfilling our pockets. [00:16:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, well put. Well put. In terms of public private partnerships that we talk about so much in smart cities, how can these collaborations foster an environment conducive to talent development in smart city cities? [00:16:32] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: A public and private partnership is absolutely key for all cities because this is the name of the jobs creation and talent attraction. In my opinion, we shouldn't confuse the concepts of smart cities boutiques. These exclusive developments led by one company creating an extraordinary advanced city that nobody is going to live to because it is absolutely expensive, or we are creating very gentrified new cities, plenty of technologies, but unaffordable for young people, for young talent. This was the case of song, Mazda and other cities that were mainly led by extraordinary investment from one particular company creating this city as a showcase of their technologies. In the other hand, where we have a good collection of different companies investing in the city, especially in these new technologies, this is creating an extraordinary attraction for talent. And this has been the lesson we can learn from the previous industrial revolutions. One innovation is leading this transformation and is attracting talent. London with the first industrial revolution, the steam machine. New York with the second industrial revolution, electricity and transmission of power at distance. And then the third industrial revolution in the Silicon Valley and Seattle because of the computing new industry. So we can see those innovations associated to some particular areas that have thriven extraordinarily because of the talent attraction. [00:18:43] Tamlyn Shimizu: Okay, yeah, I have a couple of follow ups actually, that I was thinking of. So for this fourth industrial revolution that is starting right now, basically, who do you think is leading that? I have one example in my head in Europe especially, right. Is that Dublin just announced their partnership with OpenAI. And OpenAI came to Dublin to set up in Europe. How do you see that impacting their level of attractiveness? And does that mean that they're one of the cities leading this industrial revolution? Or maybe you can give a few more examples. [00:19:24] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: No one is leading, that's the situation. And everybody is trying to compete globally to become a leader in artificial intelligence, and everybody is investing massively on that. The idea is the new four industrial revolution, mainly robotics and associated to artificial intelligence, is covering it all. And this is a very smart movement from Dublin capturing this european headquarters of OpenAI what I can tell you is that the innovation epicenter of the wall is moving east. Okay, that's clear. It's not so much centered on the middle of the Atlantic, let's say. And now it's moving east. And Europe must react. The United States are leading with the economy and the business. The ASEAN wall is leading in terms of infrastructure and manufacturing. And Europe is leading in what is leading in regulations. Well, regulations are good, are necessary, but are not very much profitable. Okay, so these are the three walls and how the overall concept is now moving on. I can tell you that there are three main areas that are creating attractive cities for talent. One is the situation of the economy. Those cities that have recovered faster, the fastest from the pandemic, and then from our recent economic downturn have recovered or have gained positions against the other. Then the technology adoptions. Those cities that are reinforcing their technology investment are gaining positions as well. And this is associated to the capacity to invest or the capacity to dedicate investment funds. And you have the plans in Europe associated to the Green Deal, the Inflation Reduction act in the United States, and other movements that are funding this technology adoption. And then the third movement that we have discovered in the research institution is the role of the midsized cities, midsize cities that are not so much expensive, not so much complicated, not so many problems in security, in pollution, blah, blah, blah, but very attractive from the rest of the components and enjoying a wonderful lifestyle and quality of life and quality of environment nearby these iconic big cities. So you can enjoy a good theater or opera or the main airport or international hub, but you are enjoying as well a city where the price of things, the purchase power, is much better because all prices are half of the prices you have in the main capital. So non capital, mid sized cities are gaining a lot of positions in the global attractiveness competition. [00:23:14] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, makes a lot of sense. And I like the focus again on the mid sized cities. We're seeing so many changes in that regard in the last couple of years and looking for the leaders to become more smaller cities. Actually, as we look ahead, and I. [00:23:31] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Can tell you a lot of examples, Rotterdam versus Amsterdam, or Tampere versus Helsinki, or Tarawata, the city I'm advising today, versus Madrid. Wow. They are gaining in this competition because as you can imagine, for young talent, this is the best place to land and develop their full career, their full potential in the best way. [00:24:02] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, mid cities offer pretty much everything that a large city does in many regards, but they maybe take less time to travel exactly. A little bit cheaper, right? As well. To live in the time to travel. [00:24:18] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Is one of the main areas to study. And it's associated to the concept of time. Because of the improvements in the efficiency of the urban mobility, the new methodologies. And we need to consider that the urban air mobility, aerotaxis and EV tolls are now about to show up and providing us super efficient and fast ways to move around. Those are making the city become bigger, become more a metropolitan area. Shortening distances. The distances are no longer measured in kilometers or in miles, but in time, you are reducing the time. You are saving time for yourself, which is wonderful, but the extension of the city is also becoming bigger. And you don't need to live in the very center, in the very almond center of the city, but you can live in the metropolitan area and enjoy perfectly everything the main city is giving to you, but super good quality of life in these midsized cities that is located relatively nearby. [00:25:41] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I wanted to ask your opinion on this topic that I've heard mentioned many times. So some critics really argue that the push towards the smart city concept can lead to a brain drain in less developed areas. How do you respond to this concern that this trend will kind of worsen regional disparities? [00:26:08] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, in a desirable global situation of no wars, no conflicts, no famine, the main motivation to move is the desire to go to a city where you can develop your full potential, where you have more opportunities. So this migration will happen and in my opinion, will grow also. Because on the other hand, the cities are trying to attract talent. All they need is to set some kind of filters to decide who is talented enough or not. I know this is not very open and very respectful, but it's a fact. All the cities want to incorporate as many and as much talented people as possible. And these migrations will continue to happen. That's what it is. And this is the global competition, and this is making the economies to thrive. To make this happen, they need talent. Because of the decrease of the natality and our western civilization facing many serious problem in terms of people aging. They need fresh John new talent and they will do their best to attack them. Okay. And unfortunately, this will happen. And all these other not so developed areas will lose continuously. Talent. We are studying the talent flow, watching the cvs that are at LinkedIn, and I can tell you those movements are absolutely clear. And not only the obvious, not only the movements of talent from Ukraine or from Russia, that is now massively going to other places across the world, they want to live in a more stable area that's human, and that's very much respectful. But in any other area in the world, you can see the top talent choosing. Where can I develop my full potential? At the best way, in that city. Let's go there. The planet is becoming shorter, and again, the facilities we have in the transportation means are facilitating these movements. This will happen and this will happen. It will increase the race and the rhythm of this situation. That's what it is. [00:29:18] Tamlyn Shimizu: So you don't think that we should be, I don't know, trying to stop as much brain drain as in developing more rural areas to be more talent, like attract more talent or something? [00:29:31] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: That's the opposite. At 1970, we had 50, 50 rural urban areas. Now we are 75, 25. And this trend will continue. So we will see by 2050, in the western civilization. Western civilization means Europe, US, Australia, Canada, all these areas. We will see something like 80, 515, urban versus rural. This will continue. It's unstoppable. And agriculture will be an area dedicated mainly to very specialized robots. [00:30:18] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. Are there any common misconceptions that you think people have about developing talent within cities that you like to debunk anything that you hear where you say, no, that's not true, but that you hear repeated quite often? [00:30:36] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: There is a strong misconception about the word smart cities in origin. Everybody associated smart cities to sensors. And, okay, we need sensors, basically, because we need data, not sensors, we need data. And most of the times in the physical world, with no sensors, we don't have the data. We need to control, to monitor, and to understand the physical aspects of our city. But we need to evolve the war. I have seen many tries to change the world by intelligent cities or territories or something like that. Unfortunately, none of them have gained a collective agreement. So we need to incorporate to this smart city concept humans, because we need to do everything for humans. And we can no longer create a technology in our city that is not considering all these people moving around and offering them the services they need. We are only consulting them once every four years to gain their trust and finally to gain their vote. This is not the way. So we need to incorporate humans to the smart city concept, and we need to create technologies for the social, understanding our citizens, what is their situation, connecting to them. We have many new technologies that are mastering on wording, on communication. Everything that is the generative AI is a revolution on the way. We can communicate to each other and understand the tokens, the words and the documents. So we need to humanize smart cities, let me say sensors, a physical wall. Okay, we need that, but it's much more than this. We need to place the human at the very center, then the social aspects, services, call centers, citizen services, taking care of them, health systems, et cetera. And in the other half, the eco areas, the physical areas, security, environmental sustainability, transportation as the main areas from the physical point of view. So it's a strong misconception that we need to combat. [00:33:28] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, absolutely. I echo that a lot as well. And I've heard that also mentioned several times. Now I want to move on to our segment that we have for you. I think it would be fun. So the segment is called shout out. [00:33:44] Tamlyn Shimizu: Shout out. Mention a person, an organization or a city you think deserves more recognition in the field. [00:33:55] Tamlyn Shimizu: Do you have someone that pops in your mind? [00:33:59] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Well, I have some. My, one of my favorite is Jane Jacobs, urbanist American. She was the first to shout against a disorder in massive urbanization, creative monster buildings, and avoiding and forgetting that the city is a place for humans. Also, JAN Girl, the very famous danish urbanist who made COpenhageN the ExtraordinaRy, wonderful city it is. These are my two leaders on Cities transformation, and I strongly recommend you to and everybody to read their books. They will get a lot of inspiration for their plans. [00:35:03] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, very good choices. So thank you so much for that. And now we're just to the final question, and that's the question we ask every single guest. And that is to you, what is a smart city? [00:35:17] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: A smart city is a combination of three things, in my opinion. First, technology applied for humans that must be in the center. To your right. Technology applied to all the social components. Understanding your citizens, providing the citizen services, helping them with employment, with training, with qualification, and also with the social services and healthcare. And third, technology to manage the physical environment. Monitor, control, evaluate and get the best of our physical environment. So three things. The citizen in the center, social in one side, ecological or physical in the other side. And technology as a way, not as a destination, never a destination, always a way, an enabler to make this happen, to finally create cities for humans, to finally develop the essence of the cities. A city is a place where humans encounter humans, meet. So the cities are enabling the social aspects of the humans. So we cannot forget this. Never. So technology should be a facilitator for the social component of our human nature. [00:36:56] Tamlyn Shimizu: Very well put and great to close out with that. Jose Antonio, thank you so much for your time today. Telling us a lot more about your work and what you've researched and worked on. So much. As far as talent goes, I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your next steps and what you're working on and yeah, thanks so much for coming on. [00:37:21] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Super, thank you very much for this opportunity. We are preparing our fifth report from our worldwide observatory for attractive cities and we will present this on the next smart city spring, Barcelona and this November. And from now till then we are cooperating with BABLE to create different solutions and proposals to the cities to help them on this journey to become brilliant, attractive cities for talent. [00:37:50] Tamlyn Shimizu: Absolutely. [00:37:51] Jose Antonio Ondiviela: Thank you. [00:37:51] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, thank you very much. And thank you also to all of our listeners. Don't forget you can always create a free account on BABLE smartcities EU and you can find out more about smart city projects, solutions and implementations. Thank you very much. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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