French-born, Euro-grown, Australian-adopted, with a blend of Mediterranean ancestry, Viking discipline and Asian lifestyle, Giovanni Di Noto is a leader in cloud economics with cross-disciplinary tertiary backgrounds in business, computing, applied sciences & 5 decades of new tech development experience.
Recipient of prominent industry recognitions (including an APAC Innovation Award, Best eCommerce Award, Best IT implementation Award, Best International Contact Centre Award, Excellence in Talent Management, Teaching & Learning Awards and more nominations and commendations) Giovanni has led teams of inspiring professionals thriving across many sectors of the hyper-connected world. Giovanni collaborates today with various global industry and academic institutions.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Giovanni shared his professional trajectory, the leadership mindset required to succeed in the digital world, personal sources of inspiration, hobbies and interests, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Giovanni, please brief us about your background and areas of interest.
I had the privilege over 5 decades and across most continents to experience and contribute toward 5 successive waves of cloud-based economics that have radically changed humanity’s relationship to knowledge. I pioneered B2C & B2B platforms over the first pre-web public networks such as French Minitel and terrestrial mobile ones such as Radiocom 2000 in the 1980’s. I then embraced the dial-up dominated “static internet” in the 1990’s, forging the first commercial ISPs in Europe and developing web-related baseline techs such as minification, acceleration tools, and smart content delivery networks. More industry-defining and award-winning achievements were carried out during the 2000’s with the advent of the “dynamic internet”: together with peers and partners, the foundations for disciplines such as eCommerce, cybersecurity, digital marketing, broadband & mobile network, IoT & Robotics were established then. My 2008 paper on “value representation” for Griffith University became a seminal inflection point toward the emerging “internet of value”, built upon decentralized currencies, sustainability best practices and inherently secure industrial DLT protocols, smart contracts, or elastic data ecosystems. My latest interests, among others, have been since the mid-2010’s about next generation quantum-based P2P multi-net & the related new socio-economic governance models it’ll introduce.
What is the role of technology in your work? Does it help or hinder you from being an effective leader?
Alongside governance & ethics, technology is central to what we all do across all industries, irrespective of sector. It is however a vast umbrella term: when it comes to evaluating its impact, nuances are in my view helpful between “hard” & “soft” technologies. What might hinder leadership is not so much technology per se, but rather levels of or barriers to access, or to its development. This topic has indeed become another primary interest of mine lately, especially in scientific research & new technology development. I am increasingly persuaded that the core economics and enabling fundamentals around R&D are broken and counterproductive: many countries boldly affirm being “smart” and “advanced”; in most cases, those claims do not stack up; they poorly reconcile with underpinning R&D funding mechanisms predominantly competitive, wastefully selective, and resulting in considerable, unvaluable missed opportunities for real and faster innovation. This challenge signals how wide of a gap humanity still must bridge with its understanding of how “wisdom & knowledge economics” function on a macro scale. Collaterally, similar arguments might apply with arts, environmental assets management, cultural heritage, education, sustainability, start-ups, scale-ups, and other socio-economic domains. These should enhance the societies nurturing them, but do not necessarily do so efficiently yet today.
Tell us about the programs/courses taught by you as a Lecturer at Klaipeda University.
My collaboration with Klaipeda University, its local and international ecosystems, such as EU-CONEXUS, a network of universities in coastal cities, or KSTP (Klaipeda Science & Technology Park), started with the “Blue Growth Leaders Academy” academic program targeted to entrepreneurs, senior executives, and policy makers: I lectured there on advanced technologies (digitalization/automation, cloud computing, distributed ledger techs, internet of things, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing). I also lecture on cybersecurity for the Faculty of Marine Technologies & Natural Sciences – Informatics and have defined with EU-CONEXUS a new stackable micro-credential (an evolution in academic format and flexible adaptive knowledge transmission) about “Cybersecurity for Ports & Maritime Industries” which will start in 2024. I otherwise routinely mentor students, researchers, entrepreneurs & professionals on a variety of business & technology topics via support programs, such as Munches (Mentoring Lunches), WGT (Women Go Tech) within or beyond Klaipeda University, EU-CONEXUS, and other ecosystems.
You are also a Tech advisor at cloudyboss. Can you please tell us about the organization and its mission and vision?
The backbone of cloudyBoss’ vision and mission is about g/localization, smarter cities & industries, solutions to one of today’s most lethal risks (urbanization failure) that also mitigate tomorrow’s greatest threats. Materializing smarter, safer, sustainable, livable, g/localized, resilient & thriving urban societies implies a range of both “hard” & “soft” baseline technologies, digital platforms & transformation/innovation programs as well as next-generation organizational models, all of which underpin and galvanize what the cloudyBoss teams carry out daily. Successful initiatives have been completed throughout the Indo-Pacific region with both industry and institutional clients over the past decade, and more projects are in the pipeline, for example with highly complex ESG compliance management platforms (especially scope-3 ESG reporting) that leverage cloudyBoss key techs such as its DLT SKYE protocol, ANIMA & KEYSTONE elastic data engines.
As a seasoned leader, how do you ensure projects are completed as quickly as possible in a complex multi-project environment with shared resources?
From all project controls (including clarity on outcomes such as sought TRL, informational fluidity, project types & related most suitable methodologies) that might impact the speed at which projects are executed in multi-project environments, a robust underpinning GRC (Governance, Risk, Compliance) framework is in my experience a most important factor for 2 reasons: firstly, on a tactical inner-project level, GRC acts as “project brakes” which, counter-intuitively, provide the required confidence to drive projects at a faster pace; secondly, and more strategically, bottom-up risk identification (away from finger-pointing or kill-messenger cultures), mitigation & incident response, all parts of GRC, are mechanics underpinning effective learning organizations: overtime, as organizations learn, continuously strengthened best practices accelerate projects’ execution.
What are your favorite hobbies or ways to spend time outside of work?
I love cooking, chasing the ultimate fresh or rare produce in local markets, before spending time in the kitchen, experimenting with new gourmet dishes, methods, ingredients, being fascinated by the complex, borderline-magical nature of chemical processes at play in pots and pans during preparation, and fulfilled when witnessing the raw happiness in loved ones enjoying fine cuisine.
I also love reading or rediscovering selected masterpieces, fiction or not, preferably in their native language, but also writing, alongside composing, and playing music.
Finally, traveling with loved ones, discovering new cultures, art shows/galleries, museums, historical sites, old towns, landmarks, and natural wonders is always a great source of joy.
I am not into sports, nor gaming, albeit I might enjoy the occasional chess game, time-permitting. Keeping fit via regular physical gym activity is about staying healthy rather than hobby in my case.
What is the mindset that leaders require in order to actually succeed in a digital world?
With the advent of AI, and beyond a baseline knowledge of technologies, soft skills, empowerment, assertiveness, and self-analysis are more than ever important to navigate and “succeed” (whatever this fast-obsoleting cliché might still mean) in a digital world. Know who you are, know what you know, what you do not know (yet), what you want, and where you are going. Most of all, enjoy the journey. If you are yet to do so, realize that it’s about people rather than technology: so, empower them with it. Focus on the “moment of truth” for your projects & the organizations you work with. Learn from mistakes if any, profusely share learning and knowledge with others. Be real, remain humble, ethical, and empathetic no matter what.
In your academic or work career, were there any mentors who have helped you grow along the way? What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
So many of them. It is indeed hard to pinpoint specific ones. This is because I strive to learn from anyone I interact with, no matter their experience or wisdom levels: we all have something to share. I approach anyone I meet as an entire universe to uncover via different sets of lenses. My late Mother, for example, taught me everything I know about accounting, ledgers & business management. I owe my change management skills to my late Father. My primary school teacher Ms. Danièle Dian inducted me into advanced mathematics at an early age. My high school teacher Mrs. Yveline Chemin opened my eyes to creativity & multiculturalism. My wife Jane has been a constant source of wisdom for many decades and, alongside mentors such as the late top Sony senior executives Haruyuki Machida and Nobuyuki Idei, mentored me into an Ikigai way of life.
In terms of best piece of advice, the business ones that stick over the years are classics such as:
- “We have two ears, one mouth and should use them in this same proportion.”, or
- “The difference between 100 and 1,000,000,000 is a bunch of trailing zeroes.”, or
- “There’s a fine line between focus and tunnel vision we should avoid crossing.”
Which technology are you investing in now to prepare for the future?
Quantum Computing, including Quantum AI, are the next upcoming radical paradigm shifts in information technology. I certainly look forward to a truly decentralized P2P multi-net based on QC and replacing the vulnerable, almost irreversibly compromised, too centralized/polarized in any case current single internet infrastructure. I also wish for digitality to be reinvented along the way beyond its current binary limitations, uncovering the true power of primality for example or via other methods, but it is still unclear if this will indeed be achieved any time soon.
I think our in-roads into effective and sustainable “value representation” are still rather immature and need more work: I certainly foresee the need to differentiate innovation from conservation and transactional domains moving forward, as well as the need to accelerate the trend toward decentralized, g/localized value ecosystems and/or “wisdom economics” as opposed to the current multi-polarized, fundamentally crippled, and fast-obsoleting global financial systems.
The foundations for other technologies to solve the greatest challenges before us are otherwise already in place in my view, at least at seminal levels and on the right maturation tracks.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
My next 5 years journey started 5 years ago and is all about knowledge and wisdom transmission to next generations of leaders, entrepreneurs, professionals, scientists, artists, and anyone else seeking mentorship or guidance.
I carry out this knowledge and wisdom transmission via any suitable means, channels, or platforms I can access, be it in industry, academia, or other mentoring/educational areas.
I am otherwise conscious of, and at peace with my own biological aging, diminishing and degenerative physical and intellectual abilities.
Such is Life.
Are there some basic, universal words of wisdom or tips that will help people find success in using their time to get the most important work done?
Time is the essence of course, and, while it might not seem that way in early years, it all goes very fast, and it’s all over in the blink of an eye. Choose therefore your goals carefully but, most importantly, learn how to enjoy the journey itself (more than the destination), be grateful and celebrate the smallest steps along the way as these are the moments you’ll cherish later in life.
While respectful of others’ opinions, ultimately form your own views, follow your own paths and be yourself: everyone else is already taken! In the same way you are to others, always be kind to yourself; mistakes are learning opportunities more than setbacks, and regrets are timewasters. Back and forward steps are part of the game: it was never meant to be a straight line, it’s a dance.
“… If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same; …” If, 1895, Rudyard Kipling