When it comes to emerging technologies, few people have the same level of dedication and vision as Debby Lo-Dean. A fervent advocate for innovation for positive change, Lo-Dean’s journey has been defined by a commitment to innovation, connectivity, and community-building. Her impact resonates not only in her numerous accomplishments but also in her tireless efforts to empower others with the knowledge of cutting-edge technologies.
Connection and community
Debby Lo-Dean was born and raised on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where her parents ran successful restaurants on the iconic Cavill Avenue at Surfers Paradise. A fifth-generation Australian, her pride in her Chinese heritage remains strong. Through her upbringing, she experienced firsthand the power of cultural diversity and the importance of fostering connections within a community.
Debby explains: “Throughout my childhood all the way to University, I was the only Asian child in the classroom. I was really quiet back then, but now I like to connect with people; to give them the opportunity to experience new things and learn new things. Especially with different cultures, because it’s so fun.
“A lot of nations have been here in Australia for a very long time. A lot of different cultures helped build this nation – the Muslims, the Afghans who helped build the trade routes in Australia with the camel trains. We had the Japanese diving for pearls. We had many Pacific islanders working in the cane fields. We have Indians here. We’ve all been here for a very long time so it’s not like we’ve just arrived. We have every nationality you could possibly think of.
“I find it fascinating hearing their stories. Generally a lot of it is about courage, especially the past generations of many of these cultures.”
Empowering through technology
Debby firmly believes that technology is the key to changing the world. A pivotal moment in her journey came with her enrollment as a founding student at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus. Here, she discovered her passion for science and technology, setting the stage for a future marked by groundbreaking achievements.
Debby’s insatiable curiosity and love for science led her on a transformative journey to Singularity University, an organisation dedicated to creating positive impacts for people and the planet through technology. Here, at the NASA Ames Research Center in New San Francisco, she absorbed the latest advancements from institutions like Stanford University, NASA, Google, and the NSA.
This experience ignited her mission to bridge the gap in technological knowledge between Australia and emerging nations.
“There are all these countries doing amazing things but we don’t really recognise it here. We still see people from those countries as the maids or the kitchen staff. Australia is very short on technical people. We really haven’t pushed science and technology through the system like other countries.”
Recognising that diversity and collaboration are the cornerstones of progress, she founded the Global Innovation Network to promote technology in emerging nations. Her objective: to champion the integration of emerging technologies in these communities, tapping into their unique perspectives and problem-solving approaches.
As she puts it, “We need to try and understand what’s happening so that we can deal with it. Otherwise, we’ll be left behind.”
Debby’s insights into global technological advancements are eye-opening. She marvels at the strides made by countries like the Philippines, where cutting-edge AI expertise is shaping the landscape. Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia are not far behind, with thriving tech spaces and ambitious plans for smart cities.
“The amount of innovation and technology is amazing,” she emphasises. “We can learn so much from what these emerging nations are achieving.”
The potential of diversity
For Debby Lo-Dean, diversity extends beyond gender and ethnicity. She believes in unleashing the potential of every individual, encouraging them to explore their passions and tackle pressing global challenges. To her, diversity is the cornerstone of progress, a catalyst for finding innovative solutions to complex problems.
Debby would like to encourage Australian organisations to see the potential in a multicultural workforce. “We’ve got people coming from overseas that have degrees in engineering but they’re working in Seven Eleven. What a waste.”
She believes people from different backgrounds will find different ways of solving problems, especially those from countries that are emerging.
“They have less money and less materials, but they are going to find a solution because they have to. You’re going to be able to come up with a solution for a problem in a quicker amount of time. Plus, they come from a country that’s a whole new market for your products and they know that market better than anyone. How can we sell our product to that community? You’ve got someone there that’s an expert.”
Innovation, collaboration, and community
Debby’s three guiding principles – innovation, collaboration, and community – permeate every facet of her work. Her innovative spirit drives her quest to stay at the forefront of technological advancements. Collaboration is her cornerstone, knowing that the collective intelligence of diverse minds is the key to solving the world’s most pressing issues. And at the heart of it all lies her unwavering commitment to community, both local and global, exemplified by her tireless efforts to empower others.
Debby Lo-Dean’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of innovation and the boundless potential of diverse perspectives. Through her unwavering dedication to emerging technologies and community building, she is paving the way for a future where connectivity and collaboration know no bounds. In the tapestry of Australia’s skilled migrant community, Debby Lo-Dean stands as a beacon of inspiration and a catalyst for positive change.
To past and future migrants to Australia, Debby has this to say: “Australia is one of the hardest countries to immigrate to – we have a lot of red tape. It’s expensive and it’s a long process. So good on you. I applaud you!
“Don’t be afraid to speak to people, and to ask for help if you need it. There’s plenty of organisations that offer free courses – and you’ll meet other people and learn things. Finally, while there are some countries where the authorities can be controlling, Australia is in general much more accepting. Don’t be afraid to speak out – there are people here that will help you.”
As Australia grapples with a shortage of technical expertise and an evolving global landscape, Debby Lo-Dean’s voice emerges as a guiding force. Her advocacy for diversity, inclusiveness, and technological advancement serves as a beacon of hope for a brighter, more connected future.