What does the future of science and technology look like, and what innovations will the next generation make?
These questions are at the core of Liberty Science Center’s mission–and they’re just a few of the topics we discussed with EY Senior Vice Chair and Americas Deputy Managing Partner Michael J. Inserra.
Inserra is a friend of the Science Center and one of the corporate chairs of our Genius Gala, LSC’s annual event honoring visionary women and men of science. The 8th Annual Genius Gala, to be held on May 13, 2019, will recognize pioneers in biotechnology, social media, and dyslexia research.
In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, we caught up with Inserra to get his thoughts on the Gala’s themes of science and tech innovation, teamwork, and creativity.
Liberty Science Center: Why have you chosen to join Liberty Science Center in our effort to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and excite learners of all ages about the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology?
Michael J. Inserra: Nothing is more satisfying than to see young people totally embrace science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Whenever I come to LSC, I marvel at the energy of the younger generation, I listen to their insights, and I can't help but think of the impact that they will make. Liberty Science Center is a catalyst to dreams, promise, and human potential.LSC: One of our Genius Award recipients is Chris Messina, the inventor of the social media hashtag. What can you tell us about the impact of social media on your life or work?
MJI: Every day, EY interacts with millions across our social media channels. It is a vital gateway for dialogue with employees, recruits, clients, stakeholders, and communities. Listening to diverse voices on issues gives us better perspectives on solving complex problems.
LSC: Two of our Genius Gala honorees are Sally Shaywitz and Bennett Shaywitz, the world’s leading experts on dyslexia. They have spent three and a half decades continuously studying dyslexia. What do you think of their work?
MJI: What the Shaywitzes are doing is creating tremendous opportunity so that society benefits from those with diverse talents and perspectives. Their work on dyslexia is groundbreaking and it is unleashing human potential.
LSC: The Shaywitzes have been together for 55 years, and have worked on research together for 35 years. Is there a long-standing partnership that has benefited your professional or personal life?
MJI: First and foremost, my life partner Madlyn and I have been married for 28 years. We have two grown children and we marvel at our life journey together on a daily basis. Second, I am a Partner/Sr. Leader with EY, and over a 34-year career I have been incredibly fortunate to work with some of the most innovative and energetic talent, and work for some the leading companies in the world on their transformation journeys.
LSC: This year, we’ll also honor Martine Rothblatt, CEO and Chairwoman of United Therapeutics. Her distinguished career includes many instances of embracing challenges and refusing to accept restraints. In her words, her mission is to “transcend all limitations the world seems to impose on us.” In the spirit of Martine Rothblatt, what is your strategy for addressing seemingly impossible challenges?
MJI: Martine has been a force at achieving breakthroughs across a spectrum of issues—communications, aviation, medical, bio-sciences, therapeutics, sustainability, neuro-studies. I marvel at her curiosity, intellectual rigor, and ability to create solutions. Through her example, she has demonstrated how to move towards a solution and not be limited by obstacles. I have found that to be tremendously motivational, and it has helped me in directing transformation and innovation.
LSC: What excites you most about the future of science and technology?
MJI: Right now, I am deeply involved with the transformative forces of robotics, analytics, AI, and neurodiversity—watching how these forces are changing industries and freeing up human capital to work on even more complex issues. The pace of change is moving so quickly, but with it are new business models, new entrepreneurs, and new opportunities. We are at the epicenter of the most exciting and innovative time in human history—and science and technology are improving the human condition across the world.