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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Georgina Denis, CEO & Co-Founder, PSi

Georgina Denis, CEO & Co-Founder, PSi

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Georgina Denis is the CEO and co-founder of PSI, the collective intelligence platform eliminating bias in group decision-making.

Holding a dual masters degree in Brain and Mind Science from University College London, Georgina has worked as a freelance Project Manager, delivering collaborative initiatives for health and tech companies like the NHS, The Health Foundation, and female health app, Clue.

In Georgie’s career, her goal has always been to facilitate group decision-making and co-design programmes and services with multidisciplinary groups that can include patients and carers, legal teams, engineers, and policymakers. It is her practice of facilitating large, diverse groups to find ways forward together that led to the co-founding of PSi.

SHECANCODE CAUGHT UP WITH GEORGINA TO TALK ABOUT HER CAREER IN TECH, THE ADVICE SHE WOULD GIVE OTHERS, AND HER SUPERPOWERS.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED?

Co-founding and becoming CEO of a tech startup wasn’t planned. I was working in the health sector, responsible for understanding what service users need from providers in order to improve the quality of services and policies. It’s really hard work because when it comes to health people have very diverse and individual needs. I was always limited by how to scale the co-design of new services to be inclusive of all users. PSi co-founder Niccolo (Chief Scientist) and I developed a solution to this problem that would give everyone an equal say in important decisions like how to improve the services that support them to live healthier lives. We used my practice and Nic’s scientific research to build PSi and pioneer the use of Collective Intelligence to make more effective and equitable decisions.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE?

Key roles involve participatory design and data analysis. I developed my expertise in participatory design by working in roles that involved group facilitation and decision-making. From those roles I learned how groups of people come up with ideas, align on goals and make decisions together. At PSi we have built a platform so that hundreds or thousands of people can participate equally in an important decision by talking to each other. As a group discussion scales it becomes more difficult to get key insights from what people are saying. Having a conversation with hundreds of people isn’t helpful if you can’t make sense of such a big conversation, so data analysis is really important to find the key insights that can support leaders to use that conversation in their decision making.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

Arion Long – CEO at Femly. Arion was part of my Techstars cohort and is a very inspirational woman. She is also very generous with supporting other women to make connections and have access to shared opportunities.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR?

The early team we have recruited at PSi. Right now we are a team of four supported by a wider network of great agencies and freelancers. Our team is small but everyone has so much energy and hunger to disrupt how people make decisions that harnesses the collective intelligence of everyone instead of just a few.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Lots of meetings making sure everyone is aligned on the bigger picture. We work with different freelancers and agencies and I make sure we are all pulling in the right direction. When I’m not meeting with the team, I’m meeting with potential partners that align with our mission and are important for PSi’s growth. 

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD?

A lot of my experience has been leading teams to deliver change, it’s really heard if people don’t buy into that change or if different groups disagree on how to move forward. Looking for someone with leadership experience, who can communicate a clear and compelling vision is really important otherwise doing transformation work can stale or feel too messy.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE?

I’ve received a lot of great support from accelerators and programmes focussed on support tech with a social impact. PSi was part of this year’s Halcyon House Fellowship and it’s been a really impactful experience for my  personal leadership development.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

I’ve only been working in tech since 2019 and this can make me feel a little insecure. I overcome it by reminding myself that my previous experiences outside of tech have given me certain superpowers that other don’t have – I bring my own unique strengths to the table. I’m honest with myself about what I know and what I don’t, and when I need help. I grow the team around me based on what I struggle with, so my weaknesses become strengths within a wider team.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED?

Work can be overwhelming, especially if you are doing things for the first time. More experience can help things feel less daunting because you’ll build a tool-kit of skills that can help you be successful. In absence of the experience, focus on doing work you are passionate about. Things will feel overwhelming no matter what, so if you are going to experience it make sure it’s in pursuit of something you really care about.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

Find an ecosystem that can support you to achieve your goals – making sure that the relationships are reciprocal because it is easier to reach a goal if everyone is benefitting from each other’s success.

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