Cynthia Hellen: Woman innovator & girl who rocks
by Claire McGovern, Strategic Initiatives Associate, Pipeline
Cynthia Hellen, co-founder of GIRLS WHO ROCK and board member of She’s the First, sat down with Pipeline to discuss the role of women in innovation. I quizzed her on what her definition of a woman innovator is, why she is passionate about women’s issues, and what advice she had for girls who want to grow up into innovators. Here are her excellent answers!
CM: Can you please introduce yourself and your current projects.
CH: Sure! My name is Cynthia Hellen, and I am one of the founders of GIRLS WHO ROCK. I also sit on the board of She’s the First. GIRLS WHO ROCK is a project designed for She’s the First. It brings together creative communities. Simply, we use our social media as a way of getting the word out and bringing together all these creative individuals under one roof to give back.
CM: Sounds interesting and very innovative! Tell us a little more about how GIRLS WHO ROCK is breaking new ground.
CH: By using social media, GIRLS WHO ROCK relies on Twitter, Facebook fans…We do a lot of blogging. We connect with our beneficiaries online, like AfricAid, what we do is bring what we know about social media and share it. We get people to join us, let them play with it, and have them come to us if they want to do something more.
CM: Explain your role at She’s the First.
CH: I am one of the board members. I manage ideas, meetings, and connecting. I make sure that She’s the First and Tammy Tibbetts, the founder, are connected with individuals who will help.
CM: Why are you involved in this work? Why is it important to you?
CH: The reason why I am involved with women and innovation in general is that I think we have advantages over men. Like being able to listen and going into anything that we do and focusing. We can take a project, take an idea, and mold it as far as what we see and hear from our supporters’ suggestions and ideas. With these projects, like GIRLS WHO ROCK and She’s the First, we try to use everything that is given to us…Building that communication and collaboration with people who are as passionate as you. Innovation is taking what we have, but not forgetting that there are bigger issues at hand. We as women have an important role. We can be that change…women have the initiative to create something ten times better than what they started out with.
CM: What is your definition of a #womaninnovator?
CH: A woman innovator is what I see from the people that I surround myself with. I am going to mention Tammy Tibbetts. I think she’s confident, she has a purpose, and she has a passion. My mother, who is one of the best role models that I have. She has been persistent in business. She is so focused. Natalia [Oberti Noguera], she is a great mentor when it comes to sharing the knowledge that she knows, and making sure that she not only is a guide for those who are seeking that advice, but is also a friend. A woman innovator brings a lot of who they are into any project. They are not afraid of failure. It is about going for it. And knowing that it may not work out. She goes with her idea and she continues on.
CM: How are you a woman innovator?
CH: I simply show and bring who I am into the work that I do, to the projects and the people that I collaborate with. To me, it’s important to find people who you click with, who will drive you and who will give you that push when you need it. I can realize an idea and make it into an action…We had only two months to prepare GIRLS WHO ROCK. We were open to every person who was interested in the idea…we let it be theirs [our supporters], too. When it comes to sharing an idea and letting it grow, you have to share it. You can’t keep it to yourself. If you do, it will never grow. That is why I am a woman innovator: I share and I connect.
CM: What advice would you give to girls who want to become innovators?
CH: My advice for girls, young and older, would be to find your passion, and I think you’ll find your passion in who you are. Find your purpose. If [you] step outside of [y]our comfort zones, if [you] really take a look at what’s going on around us, I think you’ll be able to connect your passion with a great purpose. I do believe in collaboration, so meet as many people as you can. Get involved in volunteer work. It’s the learning that comes with the people you meet…I would suggest you volunteer, you collaborate, you find your passion, and you pursue a purpose.
CM: What is your #womaninnovator mantra?
CH: My mantra is not giving up and going for it.
Claire McGovern is Pipeline’s Strategic Initiatives Associate. Her responsibilites include managing Pipeline’s social media presence, content creation, and producing the #womaninnovator series. Claire’s posts will document her summer at Pipeline and her observatinos as she navigates through her own personal pipeline.