African Leadership University

ALU Experts in Residence: interview with Tom Siegel

Tom Siegel, Expert in Residence at ALU

“I’ve been truly impressed by ALU”

For the past 15 years, Tom Siegel has been the Vice-president of Trust and Safety at Google. He is currently setting up his own company in data protection. He recently spent a few weeks on our Mauritius campus, delivering masterclasses as well as sharing his own experience within a global organization. 

What brings you to the African Leadership College in Mauritius? 

I’ve been connected to Fred Swaniker since graduate school and I have always followed his journey with the African Leadership Group. We have been looking for an opportunity for me to come and teach as well as understand the ALU model.

What are your first impressions of ALU? 

I’ve been truly impressed. The students here are amongst the brightest, most proactive and engaged ones that I’ve met. I also really enjoyed the fact that the staff is very diverse. They all have great stories to tell. They’ve great passion and really believe in the mission. The facilities and the infrastructure are top-notch as well. This could easily be a campus in Europe or in the US, except the weather, which is way better here!

Can ALU have an impact on the future of work and the leadership conversation?   

One of the three main aspects of this impact is that these students are really advanced. They are at the top of their game, not just from a Mauritian or an African perspective. From a global perspective, you could easily plug them into conversations in Silicon Valley. Secondly, they are very attuned to the challenges that Africa is facing. Thirdly, they have this very strong pan-African view. They think across borders, and obviously, they’re forming a community that allows them to do this more easily, and they also learn from each other. That is super impressive.  

Going back to that you’ve done at Google. Trust is, today, a global issue, a real challenge, isn’t?  

It’s one of the defining topics for the big tech companies. So, if you are a Facebook or a Google or a Twitter or Pinterest… That’s what you worry about nowadays. For the past four years, in particular, we see the emergence of issues – fake news, hate, harassment online, collection of users’ data, privacy. We weren’t really prepared for that. So, we have a lot of work to do.

Tell us about your next ventures. 

I’m very excited about what’s ahead. I am launching my own company to help users better protect and take control of their personal online data. Right now a tom of data about us is available freely across the web with little rules and oversight. The service I am building will allow users to monitor, manage and ultimately monitor their personal online data in a secure manner. It’s an opportunity for users to become more responsible stewards about their personal data and a chance to share in the value that’s created when this data is used by third parties.

My last question will be: what are your key takeaways from this first visit at ALC?  

I’ve just been super inspired and impressed. It is an amazing model. I have a much better understanding of some of the key problems that Africa is facing. I’ve built wonderful relationships with students and staff alike that I hope will continue and prosper. And last but not least, I got to know Mauritius which is such a beautiful place. I still think about the view from Le Morne often.

 

 

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