Steel pipes and innovation

September 8, 2010

#womaninnovator Natalia Oberti Noguera

There are no cracks in this pipeline; instead, visionary alloys connect the conduit.  These woman innovators, led by Natalia Oberti Noguera, the Founder and CEO of Pipeline, are heating the business world, ion by ion.

Pipeline is a social venture start-up whose mission is to ensure that every woman achieves her potential as an innovator.  It’s got luster; and it’s got strength. The dense start-up contains a variety of elements including proof-of-concept labs, a successful online media campaign, and an energized leader.  “Women tend to wear many hats in the career pipeline,” Oberti Noguera shared.  “We may start off in the corporate sector and then move to the nonprofit sector; next, we start an exciting new business venture.  A lot gets lost in the transition. … Pipeline is a hub that stays with women throughout their career.”

Pipeline connects women to other professional and personal resources  – i.e. The OpEd Project, Catchafire, Astia, etc.  “A lot of women create businesses, start entry-level jobs, or contemplate ways they can accelerate in their careers, and a huge differentiating factor for them is their role as an expert,” stated Oberti Noguera.  Experts are in.  But how do you leverage your personal expertise?

Through Pipeline’s proof-of-concept labs, women have the opportunity to develop their own brand – a hybrid of professional and personal identification.  “We provide a safe space for women to start owning it, to be identified as an expert, and to be considered a thought leader,” Oberti Noguera commented. “Be comfortable saying you are an expert.  … the concept goes back to self-promotion.  If someone has a more fleshed-out persona, including their personal and professional brand, then they are more likely to make a connection with someone else.”

Language matters.  During a recent interview with No Country for Young Women, Noguera advised, “Women innovators and people in general should learn another language.  Learning a second language is not just about communication, it also applies another way of thinking.  It provides a different point of reference and reminds us that there is more than one word for something and also more than one way to perceive something.”

Oberti Noguera’s diverse elements and background binds Pipeline’s core into a unique model.  “I’m half-Italian and half-Colombian so Pipeline’s global perspective is something front and center for me.  I want to ensure that we can produce women innovators globally,” stated Oberti Noguera.  Her tweets (@nakisnakis) fit her offline persona to a T: efficient, smart, and inspiring.  “I am a huge social media fan – love it – it fits my personality.  I want to make sure that the technological solution that we develop for Pipeline compliments our initiatives and helps us scale so we can support even more women entrepreneurs.”

Online media (more specifically, @PipelineWomen) connects and features women innovators.  “One of our initiatives is #womaninnovator … it is creating online and offline opportunities to share women’s stories and go viral … #womaninnovator shows the diversity of faces and expands the definition of woman innovator,” added Oberti Noguera.

What are the proof-of-concept labs?

The Accelerator teaches female professionals about change management, an important leadership skill, by providing them with the opportunity to create, pitch, make the business case, and implement a sustainable initiative at work. Oberti Noguera added, “My personal belief is that sustainability is a change management issue, and at the end of the day, a change management issue is a people issue. What really distinguishes a manager from a leader is being able to anticipate, respond, and even create change. For the Accelerator, we provide the support and network for women to create an action-plan and to integrate sustainability at work (i.e. a recycling plan in the office).”

The Incubator provides tools, resources, and capacity-building to entrepreneurs. Each woman is paired with a mentor (an established entrepreneur) and an apprentice (typically a graduate-schools student).  The apprentice is tomorrow’s entrepreneur.

The Mastermind leverages the curriculum of leadership programs offered to high potential employees at Fortune 500 companies, and the Mastermind also teaches best practices in networking, relationship-building, and identifying one’s strengths with the support of a facilitator and peers.  “The broad definition of sustainable is that it’s not just about the environment, and it’s not just about the social dynamic.  It’s about whether or not you are being sustainable in your career – in terms of your work/life balance and in terms of your relationships.  The Mastermind is for people to identify their strengths.  It provides structure and accountability which is so important during a transition – women need support from other women going through a similar experience,” Oberti Noguera added.

A new initiative, Fund, is launching this fall and will convert women philanthropists into investors and encourage women to invest in triple bottom line (3BL) companies led by #womaninnovators in the range of US$50k-US$500k.

What is your definition of a #womaninnovator?  Write it down. Better yet, tweet it and share with @PipelineWomen.  You’ll soon realize that you fit your own definition.  Until then and after then – get involved.  Email to learn more about the proof-of-concept labs and to share your innovations.

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