Global Silicon Valley Summit In Review


The 11th annual ASU + GSV Summit in collaboration with Arizona State University brought together 15000 of the worlds top entrepreneurs, investors and educators to talk about the future of education!


In a year that has been unlike any before - 2020 set the stage for the perfect time to discuss what does education look like in 2, 3 or even 10 years from now?


The lineup at the GSV Summit 2020 included over 30,000 participants from around the world over the course of 10 days of virtual innovation and discussion sessions around the theme of changing the world for good.


Michael Moe the founder of GSV acknowledges that there is a deep need for events such as GSV as it's been their ambition for the last 10 years of running this summit that they accelerate education - unfortunately - he acknowledges that many people don't have equal access to creating change - there are many roadblocks.


This year 3.4 million people will die due to lack of access to clean water and 9 million will die from hunger - 2020 has added additional strain to global resources and economics.


One particular session stood out to me - moderated by Deborah Quazzo Managing Partner GSV Ventures - guests on the panel discussion were exceptional people - both distinguished ex-military leaders.


Panelist - General David H. Petraeus, US Army (Ret.)


Partner, KKR & Chairman, KKR Global Institute. Petraeus joined KKR in June 2013 as Chairman of the KKR Global Institute. He was made a Partner at KKR in December 2014. The Global Institute supports the KKR investment process and KKR's portfolio companies with analysis of geopolitical, macro-economic, environmental, social, and governance issues. He is also a member of the boards of directors of Optiv and OneStream, a personal venture capitalist, a Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Jackson Center, and an Honorary Professor of International Security at the University of Birmingham (England).


Prior to joining KKR, Gen. Petraeus served over 37 years in the U.S. military, including tours in Cold War Europe, the United States, Central America, Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the greater Middle East. He culminated his military service with six consecutive commands as a general officer, five of which were in combat, including command of: the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during the fight to Baghdad and the first year in Iraq; Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq over 15 subsequent months; Multi-National Force-Iraq during the Surge from February 2007 to September 2008; U.S. Central Command from 2008 to 2010; and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan from 2010-2011.


Following his service in the military, Gen. Petraeus served as the Director of the CIA, leading the Agency during a period that saw significant achievements in the global counter-terrorism effort, development of a strategic plan for the Agency, and an initiative to increase worldwide human intelligence coverage.


Gen. Petraeus graduated with distinction from the U.S. Military Academy, subsequently earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and has held academic appointments at six universities. He has received numerous U.S. military, State Dept, NATO, and UN medals, including four Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and the Combat Action Badge, and he has been decorated by 13 foreign countries.


Panelist - Roxanne Petraeus CEO of Ethena



Ethena provides harassment prevention training for modern teams. Their evidence-based approach delivers content relevant to how we work today — think on Zoom or Slack, not just at happy hour — in digestible monthly doses, so actionable strategies for preventing harassment are always top-of-mind.


Ethena's training is trusted by top tech and professional services firms. They're backed by GSV, Homebrew, Neo, Village Global, and other aligned investors, and they were profiled in Tech Crunch and Forbes. Their advisory team includes Frances Frei, and top Legal and People Ops professionals.


Both panelists pursued careers in the military and this contributed to their leadership styles.


In this panel discussion they talked about experience working in the military and their parents also served in the military and having exposure to the military from an early age can make it more accessible.


Now before you ask - yes Roxanne is related to David - she is his daughter-in-law and also investor in Ethena.


They started up talking about their roles in the military and how it has helped their work in the startup landscape.


David mentioned that not all generals are strategic leaders but rather the concept of a strategic leader is someone that makes decisions of the big ideas and it's important to get the big ideas right - then you need to communicate that idea and refine them - this model is powerful - he noted that the founder of a startup - no matter how small the startup - you need to perform many tasks. David is actively investing in approx 18 startups - when he accesses a startup team he looks to see if they are a team that can also scale the business.


Deborah asked about the element of risk - how do they balance the risk in startups? David mentioned that although in the military he dealt with life and death situations he sees a parallel with startups if you loose their money you are potentially losing someones pension fund. Evaluating risks comes down to analysing competitors, barriers to entry and the greatest venture capital firms have niches in specific areas.


Deborah goes on to ask Roxanne if the military impacted on her leadership style. Her advice for being a great leader is just care. When intent is in the right place then you can serve. Always thinking about the mission and how her actions can inform it. She sees also a lot of differences between the military and startup life. In the startup world it's important to think collaboratively rather than a military style i.e it's my way or the highway - that mentality doesn't work in startup culture.


David has extensive experience in nation building and he is non-partisan in his approach however Deborah did probe what his advice is for nation building in today's political climate.


David went onto explain that the focus of any incoming administration is to focus on nation building - contain and manage the pandemic and those at the top are doing well and those at the bottom aren'd doing well with many facing eviction. There needs to be a focus on those at the bottom and there needs to be bridging mechanisms. He also believes there will be more emphasis on climate and working with international partners and working on our relationship with the world.


David also added that what gives him a sense of optimism is those people engaged in startups.


Roxanne explained Ethena is experiencing great growth with clients such as Netflix


Deborah also touched upon the military and it's charge of seeking equality and an inclusive workplace - Deborah asked what more can the military do to be equal for all?


Roxanne explained so much has changed in the military over the past years. Inclusivity is something Ethena helps companies implement training to ensure equality is always top of mind. Ethena takes a modern and digestable approach to harrassment in the workplace to train companies how to avoid harrassment and create a fair and inclusive workplace.


David acknowledges that the military was one of the first integrated organizations in some respects but we lagged in those of other orientations, and different areas of service weren't acceptable for women. There were agist and sexiest conducts but a lot of reform done to ensure it is more progressive these days.


Deborah also asked about what we're doing for veterans and what we need to do better?Veterans that served in the active military the unemployment rate is lower and the truth is the veterans for work program at KKR - businesses loved to hire veterans and they bring extraordinary experience, are sort after candidates but there is still more to do.


Roxanne encourages companies to rethink how they screen for talent and to look for the best talent rather than what the team used to look like.


Roxanne goes on to explain that the military does professional development really well and she has incorporated some of this into Ethena with executive coaching.


David summarises that KKR with 1400 professionals - they are doing assessments, mentoring and incorporating elements of leadership into the workplace that parallel military training that benefit the workplace and leadership.


In summary I found this interview compelling as it showed how the military although I often interpret it as a regimented and perhaps over authoritative environment after listening to this discussion I realized that it can offer startup founders and future leaders the foundations for communication and implementing "big ideas" - I did however like that Roxanne acknowledged that although there are similarities between military training and those that can be applied to startups - there are also many differences. It would seem both could learn and lean in on each other i.e the military could learn from startup culture how to be more collaborative and inclusive and startups can learn from the military how to be more strategic and think big. It was refreshing to hear from these experienced ex-military leaders on what they have learned from the military and vice versa.


watch the entire video interview here




About the Author

January Barnes - Head Reporter at ParlayMe - she is an experienced global tech news journalist. She is passionate about supporting visionaries on their quest to achieve unicorn status