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This Week In Innovation: 8/31/15 - 9/4/15

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If the name Malala Yousafzai doesn't sound familiar to you, prepare to be amazed and learn that innovation can begin at any age. This week Fast Company featured an article that discussed Malala's life and her perseverance in bringing education to young girls. Malala is most recognized for being a global symbol of strength and resistance to oppression after she miraculously survived a Taliban gunshot to the head at the age of 15. This incredible young woman grew up in the region of Pakistan's Swat Valley under the brutal influence and rule of the Taliban. Due to the fact that this group strongly banns girls' education, one day when Malala was on her way to school, a few militants stopped the bus and shot her and her friend. Today Malala lives in England and is taking her story and fame into a new and innovative direction. Due to the significance of her story and the impact it has on young girls trying to get an education in war-torn nations, Malala is starting a movement with, an organization that she cofounded with her father, called the Malala Fund. The Malala fund aims to 'secure girls the right to at least 12 years of quality schooling, no matter their circumstance.' How's that for some powerful innovation?
This week, Jeff Thomas of Forbes sat down with Snyder's-Lance CFO, Rick Puckett to discuss how the CFO's within an organization can drive innovation. To start off the article, Thomas claims, ''it's important we play an integral role in our organization's innovation process, so our colleagues recognize we are more than the 'no' department.' Upon beginning the interview, Thomas starts by asking Puckett what his role as CFO means for innovation. In responding to this questions, Puckett states 'We have an effective 'Stage Gate' process in place for all innovation, which includes projected profitability as one of the gates. As CFO, I monitor the process and make sure that finance is fully engaged at all innovation stages'' Another profound question that gets raised in the article is 'How can CFOs use their promotion of innovation to strengthen their relationship with the executive team'? What do you think? Read the full interview here and find out Puckett's response.
This week Fast Company released an article discussing the importance of Hoby Darling's, Skullcandy's president and CEO, new bold innovation and research initiatives within the company. If you're like most everybody else in the world, the name 'Skullcandy' rings a bell but a very distant bell. The company was huge around 2003 when it first released its 'cool' and 'outdoorsy' earbuds. However, the company has been retreating in a downward spiral since the company went public in 2011. Now, as the new CEO, Darling envisions Skullcandy to be a new and exciting company with various innovation and research initiatives. 'Skullcandy would have to innovate differently from other headphone companies by focusing on aspects of the listening experience that its competitors were not considering.' With that in mind, Darling has been transforming the company over the past two years to be more of a 'hub' for innovation, technology, and research. In starting this new project, Darling has significantly increased the number of employees who work within these departments making them a third of the company. For the complete innovation strategy, read the full article here.
Remember that cool startup by the name of 'Airbnb' that allows you find cheap living situations for various vacation and travel destinations? Well according to an article on Fast Company, this company jst launched an app for the Apple Watch. 'The same team that launched Airbnb's first iPad app in April launched its first watch app on Thursday. The new app does not replicate an Airbnb Passbook integration, which sets reminders for Airbnb stays.' Instead, what this app does do, is it helps facilitate messages between guests and hosts in an attempt to make communication easier for both parties. This is a smart innovation initiative on the part of the startup as it makes the company more user friendly and more compatible with other devices.

Nichole Dicharry, is a Digital Marketing Assistant at IIR USA, Marketing and Finance Divisions, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. She can be reached at Ndicharry@iirusa.com 

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