Woman in Innovation: Zoe Piper
"Don’t assume that others know more than you."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?
I always have plenty of things on the go. Currently that includes building a platform at CSIRO’s Data61 to connect industry with researchers, manufacturing non-toxic paint at Ecolour, and building a blockchain based food provenance platform at Ethitrade that I’m piloting in South-East Asia with The Asia Foundation and DFAT. I’m also involved in the innovation community, as a member of the CBRIN board, mentor for CSIRO’s ON Prime, and as Enactus NSW/ACT Executive Committee Member. At some point I may also start making some progress on my PhD again (looking at the careers of leaders who concurrently work across industry, research and government). I like the diversity that a range of projects brings, plus it offers unique opportunities to better understand different industries/sectors/countries and undercover potential linkages.

Why is innovation important to you?
Because we should all be looking to do things better! One of my biggest frustrations is seeing amazing small businesses with high quality, cost competitive products not getting as much traction as they should because of people sticking with what they know. If we create more of a culture where innovation is embraced at all levels, there will be greater opportunity to achieve better social, environmental and economic outcomes.

What drives you to make a difference?
I love uncovering better ways to do things, across all domains. Whilst I’m involved in a wide range of ventures, the common thread is that they can make a positive impact in peoples’ lives. Connecting with others who are driven to make a difference and finding new and interesting ways to collaborate is also a big focus for me. Whenever I hear about a great new idea or business, in the back of my mind I’m always thinking through what other opportunities I may be able to connect them to.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
My core piece of advice is: just don’t stop. There will always be challenges that arise, but the key is to be able to keep trying different ways to move forward. If you get stuck on something, focus on the bits that you can still move forward with to keep the momentum going. Don’t assume that others know more than you, or have some kind of ability that you don’t, do your research and back yourself! Building strong networks is also essential, you need a wide range of connections you can reach out to.

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