Shanthi Flynn Shanthi Flynn Advisory
Executive and Board Advisor

Shanthi Flynn
Executive and Board Advisor
Shanthi Flynn Advisory

My studies were in physiology and pharmacology, after which I joined the human resources field and since then have developed businesses in 4 sectors around the world with a focus on organization and people issues. I’ve also had to deal with many challenges including when 1800 of our Walmart colleagues were missing in Japan after the Sendai earthquake, as well as growth in China and across Asia. At Watsons, supporting acquisitions and helping us grow from 12 to 36 countries in 3 years, mostly in Europe, was fun. Having employed and developed people at all levels in retail, manufacturing, healthcare and services, I feel able to connect the dots between education and the world of work. As Chief Human Resources Officer at the Adecco Group, I was close to studies on the future of work, which was my introduction to ETH Zurich: I was asked to speak at the Global Talent Summit that ETH hosted in 2018.

The ETH Circle brings real world experiences back to ETH. To gather former ETH students and friends, who have followed many interesting paths, and bring them under this umbrella presents ETH with a unique opportunity and makes so much sense. Connecting these life and work experiences back into faculty and student programmes makes ETH more relevant. In terms of my own contribution – I’ve only been in Switzerland for four years now, but bring knowledge and experience from living and leading in Hong Kong and the UK as well. I have been so lucky to have worked for pioneering companies, which also include Ford and Boots. Understanding what it means to be at the forefront of industry I hope will add an interesting perspective to ETH, which is in the forefront of educating employees of the future.

While technology makes the world more productive, scientific progression can also be threatening. We see this for example with the topics of AI and climate change. The ETH Circle can bring a blend of commentary and contribution beyond academic and scientific research, to ensure that ethics and green solutions are prioritized. Sometimes, questioning whether you should do something, just because you can. In this way, we can help introduce some checks and possible solutions to ensure we create a world we want our children to live in.

I recommend that our group identifies a few projects that we can do collectively or in small groups, which leverage the experiences of the Circle and the expertise of ETH. Based on the diversity of the ETH Circle, we can have members give input to influence STEM, UN Policy Goals, The Evolution of Work and A Green World, as we can then encourage others to act today with an eye on the future. There is no reason why ETH should not be a more well recognized and familiar global leader of thought and change.