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Maria Selting

BSc alum, entrepreneur, public speaker and podcast host, Maria Selting, loves discussing the intersection of society, technology, philosophy, politics and science. In her podcast, she meets people who inspire her and explores AI through a humanistic lens, trying to understand and interpret the technology we're building. How do you find your superpower? Why are soft skills needed in tech? Read more to find out!

We realize you hold a few positions at the moment, but can you describe them a bit and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis?

Every month is different, as I split my time between speaking gigs, hosting workshops for clients, running my own consultancy business, and hosting a podcast.

As a public speaker and podcaster, I host talks, lectures and workshops on the intersection of society, technology, philosophy and science. Recently, I gave a keynote talk at a conference in Spain called “Future Talks.” On my podcast, Unbox Your World, I interview expert guests and share opinions on these topics as well.

In my consultancy business, called Phuturist, I execute marketing and PR for tech companies and community-driven businesses. As an example, I head up the marketing team at an exciting impact startup called Lingo, and love that I have the freedom to accept other exciting projects that come my way.


You've worked 10 years in the tech industry, of which five years at iZettle/PayPal. What interested you about working in the tech sphere?

I’ve always been very curious and had an ability to notice patterns of where the world is going. When I was introduced to the tech industry, I felt the up-and-coming energy in that environment; the creativity, the power and the innovative mindset of the people working in it. At the time, I wanted to learn programming to become better at my job. So, I organized a code camp along with four other women in Barcelona called 100 Tjejer Kodar (100 Women Coding) to empower women with programming skills. However, with the rapid speed of change in the economy, programming is to some extent becoming a commodity. That’s why these days I am more drawn to philosophy and humanistic subjects that help us understand and interpret technology, particularly AI. I believe we'll need these softer skills in the future to help us understand the technology we’re building. This is also what I talk about in my podcast and in my talks.


What inspired you to start a podcast? Can you talk a little about what it is about?

I was inspired by the fact that there are so many great minds in the world, who are doing some truly great things for the world but maybe don’t get the word out in a mainstream setting. I wanted to shed light on these stories and package them for a wider audience, so that more people can get inspired by these great ideas. From a personal perspective, the podcast enables me to meet some great minds across the globe and to talk about topics that are very close to my heart. In the podcast I like to challenge our worldview and explore topics at the intersection of society, technology, philosophy, politics and science. If we question what we take for granted, we can improve, and hopefully work towards a brighter future.


What is the most exciting part of your work? Where do you think your roles/fields are going in the next 5-10 years?

The most exciting part is the serendipity and the creative outlet my work allows me to act within. For example, when I meet someone or publish a new episode or article, new ideas and opportunities are born. Running your own company is definitely not for everyone, but if you have the discipline and enjoy being the master of what you do, then there are endless possibilities of what you can create each day. I see what I do as very dynamic, so it is quite hard to predict the future, however I do think that the topics I am exploring will become increasingly relevant in the future. The world is changing at an exponential speed, so in the future, the skill you learned yesterday might be obsolete tomorrow. Therefore I think we’ll see a shift from learning a profession to learning how to be adaptable. This transition is something I’d like to be in the middle of.


What was so appealing about SSE’s BSc in Business and Economics when you were considering where to study?

For me, what drew me to SSE was the opportunity to be around ambitious people who created any project they wanted in the student association. That entrepreneurial spirit is what pulled me to SSE specifically, compared to any other school. Choosing to study business and economics set me up with a good foundation to continue that path.


How has your time/education at SSE helped guide you in your career so far?

At SSE, you learn to think business and a methodology to tackle business challenges you come across in your career. It sets a good foundation to continue to learn in a hands-on environment. What I believe has helped me the most is the powerful network you get, where people genuinely help each other succeed in their careers.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current/prospective students?

Reflect on what energizes you; what it is that makes you tick and why. If you do this reflection each day – thinking through what has energized you and what has drained you – you’ll notice patterns of what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, and in what context. Over time you’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses and eventually you’ll find your own superpower – the skill you excel at that you also love doing. When you find that, it’ll become much easier to make wise decisions in your career. It is so easy to be stressed in the beginning of your career; however, if you trust the process, you’ll eventually find the right place for you.


As a woman working in tech, what would you say to young girls to encourage them to pursue a career in technology? What would more women in the field bring to the tech sector?

I would encourage everyone to at least familiarize themselves with technology, as every single sector is being disrupted by technology. If you don’t understand it you’ll easily fall behind. The tech industry is a fast-changing industry, in a multicultural environment where new ideas are encouraged. This makes it a creative and dynamic industry to be in. I would also encourage young students to lift their gaze and focus on what is yet to come. I personally believe we’ll see an increased need for skills that complement technology and people who understand it – plus its ethics and morality issues – and who can teach AI to behave for the better good.