TECHNOLOGIST. ENTREPRENEUR. INNOVATOR.
Linda Bernardi is an author, technology provocateur, entrepreneur/ex-CEO, strategist, investor, lecturer and board member. These combined functions enables Linda to have a true global perspective regarding cutting edge innovation around the globe.
EVP, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Element AI
Responsible for Product Development, Strategy, Architecture, Academic, Research & Innovation Programs. Executing our vision and strategy and transforming our customers to an AI First mindset globally.
ProVoke, Released November 2011, discusses the critical importance of global disruption in order to innovate. Linda’s second book The Inversion Factor discussing the emerging hyper-connected world was released by MIT Press October 2017.
PROVOCATEUR AND STRATEGIST
Linda’s technology strategy firm, StraTerra Partners, since 2009 has been engaged with large enterprises and in her role as strategic advisor, Linda advises and works with clients in major changes in innovation strategy and adoption of new innovations.
Linda serves as board chair, member, advisor in a number of tech companies as well as not for profits globally.
CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER
As Chief Innovation Officer at IBM for IoT & Cloud, Linda focused on how AI and cognitive capabilities would change the landscape of IoT and big data analytics, and generate new products for the Fortune 100 companies around the globe. Linda is all about Disrupt | Innovate | Lead. Linda specializes in navigating the hard waves of change in large enterprises.
Linda is a serial entrepreneur focused on disruptive technologies ranging from IoT, AI, analytics and more. She works closely with startups, accelerators and incubators around the globe.
Linda is an early stage investor in disruptive high tech companies in the US, Europe and Asia. General areas of interest include: AI, Cognitive, Big Data and new computing paradigms.
HER HOPE: TO BE INSPIRED BY YOU AND TO INSPIRE YOU
Linda is a wife, mother, friend and passionate provocateur and disruptor. For Linda, spending time with her family and friends is what makes the most sense in life. She feels motherhood has been one of the most wonderful experiences and joys in her life.
Though it can be hard to find the time these days, spending time with her husband, daughter and relatives on lazy Sunday afternoons is on her list of the top 10 most wonderful things to do! This is followed closely by spending time with her friends and dancing late into the night, singing and enjoying life.
Linda takes the time to see the enormous talent in the hundreds of people she meets and to work with them to unleash their talent. For the past 20 years, Linda has worked hard to remove barriers that prevent people and companies from realizing the amazing talent within and to help them learn to express themselves in outstanding ways. Her belief is that people have an enormous amount of power within themselves once they are encouraged, inspired and determined to succeed.
Based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Linda is driven to working with people from all over the world including Europe, India, Asia, South America and Africa. That is what gets her out of bed in the morning – though sometimes this is just a metaphor and sleep is not in the cards! But she will be the first to tell you that being around people and meeting new people energize her more than any cup of coffee.
Linda is absolutely determined to globally change the landscape in corporations. As hundreds of thousands intelligent and bright minds work each day, Linda pushes companies to support their employees and talent to be as creative and innovative as possible. In 2014, Linda was thrilled to announced that she was joining IBM as Chief Innovation and Disruption Officer, Cloud and Internet of Things.
ALWAYS PROVOKING AND DISRUPTING
Linda’s book, ProVoke, was a labor of love that she firmly believes in. Released in November 2011, ProVoke discusses the critical importance of global disruption in order to innovate. Her role as provocateur and disruptor puts her in the center of the ‘disruption’ and ‘discomfort’ dialogue in large organizations and is the starting point for the Culture of Disruption. Only when we are willing to disrupt can we innovate. Linda is constantly inspired by the many people she meets and she uses that inspiration to create energy to be stronger. She is very grateful to all of you for being members of the Culture of Disruption.
Working with non-profits is also a big part of Linda’s life and she considers her not-for-profit work to be as important as her work with large corporations and enterprises.
As an immigrant to the United States, Linda believes that protecting our constitutional rights is critical and she is an avid supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Constitutional Rights (CC&R), and a number of other active civil liberties organizations.
A passion for science and understanding our universe has had her on the Board of Trustees of SETI Institute, which focuses on Astronomy and Astrobiology.
With a fierce passion for women and technology, she is proud to have been one of the founding members of the Anita Borg Institute and has been on the Board of Trustees for over a decade. She is also involved in several other women’s organizations.
Last but not least, she is also actively involved in a number of organizations that are working to eliminate childhood hunger.
Above all, Linda loves people as well as disrupting, changing and improving the parameters for the intellectual growth of people. She believes that all companies would be a tremendous place to work, if people were allowed to be innovative and creative. She is proud to be an active member of the Culture of Disruption – disrupting in order to innovate – and invites you to join her on this journey.
DISRUPTION IS PART OF LINDA'S DNA, EVEN FROM AN EARLY AGE
At the age of eight, she was asked to leave the Girl Scouts. Why? She found the routine tasks illogical and decided to express her concerns to her team leader about better ways to do the tasks. She was promptly asked to leave the group (as she recalls, leaving the room with her pigtails and tons of pride), as she needed to learn how to follow orders! Years later, Linda met her former Girl Scout team leader who, seeing Linda’s progress in life, expressed her regret for asking Linda to leave. Even though Linda had a very short and non-stellar Girl Scout career, she gave her a copy of ProVoke with much pride!
At 17, Linda had a part-time job as a receptionist at a top law firm in LA. The firm had nine partners in all, with very long last names, and she was required to recite the entire series of names upon picking up the phone every time! It was insanity. So, she first attempted to cut the names to just three of the partners last names – but the other six had a fit.
That effort failed immediately.
Next, she came up with the acronym FKWAWUMSA, which made her burst into laughter whenever she had to recite it. That too failed. Neither of her changes to the phone greeting was accepted and she was brought under immediate scrutiny. At this point, Linda suggested that she greet people simply with “Good Afternoon, May I help you?” She was promptly fired, because (as she was told) she cannot take orders and is not a good follower and team player. This was despite the fact that it was insane to do what she was asked to do! It wasn’t all a lost cause, however. She ultimately landed a job with the firm’s top client who found Linda’s independence rewarding!
At 20, she was a lab assistant in the chemistry research department at her university. The foundation of the experiment was flawed and designed incorrectly, and was burning through tons of money each day. Linda raised her concerns to the professor early on, who asked her to “follow orders” – which, as we know, she was very weak in. Ultimately, the experiments did not work and were a wasted effort, at which point she was asked to leave. And she did so happily and, again, with a smile on her face!
She was asked to leave the PTA of her daughter’s elementary school when she stood up to the board and expressed her concern that the school had math teachers who did not believe girls were competent in math. This led her to write an article in the local newspaper which resulted in the school’s girls first seating in front of the computer and the teacher in question retiring sooner than planned. This improved things, but she was not invited back to be a member of the PTA!
Linda has very low tolerance of the board of directors of startups, public corporations or not-for-profits when the board is not doing their duty and facts are deliberately ignored in favor of making the popular decision. She has had her hand up many times as the single “Nay” vote when all other votes were in favor of the CEO’s decision – which was followed by her being asked to leave. Each time she spoke up, she inspired other board members. Today, she will not consider sitting on a board if she feels her “independent” voice supporting the best interest of the entity over the interest of the CEO is not welcome.
When Linda started her startup in Boston in 2001, she was turned down by many of the top VCs. She was primarily turned down because she was deemed to be a risk with little experience as a first time CEO. In the end, her company ConnecTerra raised substantial amounts of money, thrived and was sold successfully. Most importantly, her company disrupted the technology industry towards success. Today, she has great relationships with the same VCs who turned her down and reminds them of how short-sighted they were at the time – a fact with which even they agree.
As a daughter of a three-star Air Force General, Linda was taught very early on not only the value of trust, effective leadership and discipline, but also the art of being a free thinker and how to handle resistance. These lessons, along with living through a revolution and massive life changes, have made Linda a fighter. Linda thrives on being inspired and inspiring others.
In sum, Linda’s life experiences have shaped (and continue to shape) her passion about disruption and innovation! She believes firmly that unless you provoke and are willing to be provoked, nothing will ever change and innovation will be impossible to achieve. She welcomes feeling uncomfortable and hopes that you too will welcome disruption as the first step towards innovation.