Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Who's In This Podcast
Helen Todd is co-founder and CEO of Sociality Squared and the human behind Creativity Squared.
Iliana Oris Valiente is an accomplished corporate executive, innovation and emerging tech pioneer, startup investor, respected board member, published author, and sought-after global public speaker.

Ep53. Iliana Oris Valiente: A.I. Chief of Staff

Up Next
Ep54. Cathy McPhillips: The A.I. Midwest Prompt

Ep53. A.I. Chief of Staff: Discover Different A.I. Digital Twin Use Cases with Iliana Oris Valiente, Head of Innovation at Accenture Canada #CloneClub

Iliana Oris Valiente is different from your average executive. She’s a blockchain pioneer, an A.I. advocate, and a passionate voice for human potential. She’s also the youngest-ever managing director in Accenture’s history.

As head of innovation and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) at Accenture Canada, she works with senior executives and boards to support their strategic transformation journeys. She also wears many other hats, leading multidisciplinary teams across design, data, and technology, focusing on cross-industry initiatives and emergent areas such as GenAI, metaverse, and sustainability. 

Her passions extend beyond tech and business. In her upcoming book, Potted Plant Theory, Iliana lays out an original framework for thinking about personality types where we all exist on a spectrum, with stability on one side and novelty on the other. Like Sequoia trees, some people need to put down deep roots in a place with abundant resources to thrive. On the other hand, an air plant can take care of itself with just the bare essentials and actually suffers if it gets too much water or nutrients. Take the quiz to find out which plant you are! 

I’ve been referred to as a blend between an innovation corporate executive and Brené Brown because I spend so much of my time thinking about humans and how humans are going to live in this new world.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

Not only is Iliana a Certified Bitcoin Professional, startup investor, respected board member, published author, and sought-after global public speaker, but she also has a digital twin named Laila. 

On episode 53 of Creativity Squared, Iliana discusses the transformative impact of A.I. on the future of work, creativity, and societal trends. She shares her vision of a human-centered future where A.I. augments rather than replaces human creativity and how A.I. tools will raise the bar for innovation. 

She predicts that hiring trends will shift to prioritize jacks-of-all-trades rather than highly specialized experts and that A.I. will supercharge the role of creative director across industries. Iliana also emphasizes the importance of responsible A.I. and the principles guiding its development at Accenture.

Take a glimpse into the future of A.I., computer vision, and the tremendous opportunities that await those who dare to navigate change head-on, like Iliana.

From Ledgers to Leadership: Iliana’s Rise Through the 2010s Blockchain Boom

Iliana gained an appreciation for the fast pace and massive scaling ability of tech companies early on in her career as a trained charter accountant working on mergers and acquisitions.

In the early 2010s, blockchain and cryptocurrency emerged as disruptive new tech in the financial services industry. Iliana recognized that early on due to her life experience. As a person of Russian and Cuban heritage, the value of a decentralized and borderless currency immediately made sense.  

Within a few years, Iliana built the first-ever blockchain advisory business within any of the large consulting firms. Before long, Accenture invited her to help them grow their blockchain footprint. 

Over the past five years, Iliana transitioned from specializing in blockchain to directing Accenture Canada’s innovation division, building teams of tech experts from scratch, and growing collaboration between Accenture’s research and venture investment departments. These days, Accenture invests $1 billion in innovation each year.

“We’re investing long before our clients ever get a whiff that an area’s bubbling up. It’s part of our responsibility to ensure we’re always future-proofing ourselves to then be able to support the future-proofing of our clients.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

Not only is Iliana directing innovation initiatives through her day job, but she’s also incorporating innovative and emerging technologies into her daily life. 

Meet Laila: Digital Human, Assistant, Chief of Staff, Conference Concierge, and More  

Iliana likes to joke that her choice of superpower would be teleportation, so she could simultaneously be all of the many places she’s needed. In some ways, she granted her own wish by creating her A.I.-powered digital twin, Laila

Laila looks and sounds like Iliana but doesn’t look as realistic as a convincing deepfake. Instead, Iliana says that Laila’s resemblance to a life-like video game character was an intentional design choice. She cites Accenture’s principles on responsible A.I., which state that A.I. must clearly identify itself as such to avoid being mistaken for a human.

As a busy executive, highly sought-after speaker, and world traveler, Iliana has no shortage of use cases for a digital human twin in her personal and professional life. She’s trained her clone on case studies from all of her projects over the past five years. Laila has also been trained on Accenture’s research and thought leadership, as well as transcripts of Iliana’s conference presentations, publications, and personality assessments. The ultimate goal is for Laila to function like Iliana’s right hand. 

The intention is for Laila to grow into my chief of staff. Instead of me having that preliminary discussion, you talk to Laila … she can point you in the right direction … Then we can dig right into what really matters.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

For example, Iliana is often pulled away from her immediate work to answer questions about previous projects or otherwise lend her institutional knowledge. Instead of tracking down the info, giving it to the coworker, and then connecting again to answer follow-up questions, that coworker could simply query Laila about past projects and then schedule time with Iliana for follow-up questions. 

Likewise, Laila is available 24/7, even when Iliana is globetrotting or simply out sick. Colleagues also never need to worry about distracting Laila from more pressing work. As a result, Iliana can spend more time doing the things that Laila can’t do, like lunch with a team member, client meetings, studying new research, and self-care. 

Having connected with upwards of 1,000 people last year, one of the use cases Iliana’s most excited about is a personal CRM system. She hopes to train Laila as an extension of her memory for names and faces, allowing her to quickly index and catalog her interactions. 

Earlier this year, Iliana invited the public to interact with Laila in a demonstration of how A.I. agents can give us more time to enjoy uniquely human experiences.  

Anyone who attends as many conferences as Iliana knows how time-consuming it can be to pick and choose which presentations, panels, performances, and demonstrations to attend.  

South By Southwest 2024, for example, featured more than 3,000 individual programs spread across nine days and several venues in Austin, TX. With Accenture, Iliana leaned into that pain point and offered up Laila as a “digital human concierge” to suggest itineraries based on conversations with attendees. 

Rather than spending two or more hours selecting programs manually on the SXSW website, attendees received a personalized, downloadable itinerary within just a few minutes of talking to Laila. 

After a successful pilot at SXSW 2024, Iliana says they’re now in discussions with multiple conference organizers to scale the digital human concierge as a service. 

Accenture’s Technology Vision Report: Human-like Tech, Multi-agent Workforce, and Electric Bodies

The overarching theme of Accenture’s Technology Vision 2024 report is that our interactions with technology are becoming more similar to our human interactions in both form and function. You don’t need a degree or even a computer literacy course to navigate computers anymore; you can do it with a few sentences in your own voice. And thanks to GenAI, those conversations even sound like human interactions, such as getting advice about a breakup or building a business plan. 

“That interaction model between human interface and the data that’s available on the internet, and the fact that these interfaces are changing, is pretty transformative.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

Another trend featured in the report is the idea of A.I. agents like Laila working alongside humans and other A.I. agents in the digital workplace. According to Iliana, developers are beginning to build the infrastructure to support internal networks of separate but collaborative A.I. agents. 

Right now, experts are still studying the best ways to train task-specific A.I. agents. As a digital twin, Laila’s been training on Iliana’s personality traits and how she approaches different topics. Building A.I. agents that can work reliably alongside other employees or potentially interact with customers is a different ball game. A company might have several people working in the same role, raising the question of whom the A.I. should be modeled after. 

For example, the investment research and rating firm Morningstar created its own chatbot agent to serve its financial advisory clients. The chatbot was trained by the firm’s top performers. That opens up a whole new category of human work: A.I. job trainer.

The third major trend identified in the Tech Vision report is the idea that our body is becoming electric. The market for wearable devices (smart watches, rings, bands, etc.) is already booming, and the emergence of brain-computer interface technology implies a future where we have more data and greater understanding of our bodies than ever before.   

“There’s still so much we do not know about our human bodies, how they work, and how we optimize them. We know even less about the human brain.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

As a Member of the Board of Directors at one of Canada’s biggest hospitals, Iliana says that the integration of technology with the human body will be one of the most fascinating frontiers to watch over the next several years. 

A.I. Augmenting Creativity and Generalist Knowledge Supplanting Niche Expertise

As a major consulting firm for some of the world’s largest companies, Accenture produces volumes of research every year on how technology and other factors impact businesses’ decision-making. According to Iliana, recent global surveys of chief executives suggest that creativity will be one of the most important business skills of the future.   

“Creativity is going to be augmented by A.I. as opposed to replaced by A.I. And what happens when everyone has tools at their disposal to create content? The bar is going to increase, and creativity is going to become even more of a differentiator.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

According to the survey, 49% of global CMOs said that they’ll be investing heavily in generative A.I. to augment their marketing efforts over the next three years. That number was closer to 30% last year, indicating that executives are starting to see A.I. as a value multiplier rather than a liability.

One of the advantages marketing executives are coming to realize about A.I. is its unmatched potential for churning out personalized marketing content. According to Accenture’s research, customers are more responsive to content that speaks to them in a personal way. Until now, that strategy has been bottlenecked by the time and budget constraints of any human-run campaign. 

With GenAI, though, businesses can produce unlimited variations of a marketing campaign to appeal to different customer profiles. According to Iliana, that capability is at the top of marketing executives’ minds. 

As marketing content trends even more toward personalization, Iliana says she sees employment trends going in the other direction. 

Citing David Epstein’s Range, she describes a shift away from prioritizing specialty knowledge of niche domains in favor of a more generalist-friendly model. Historically, technical experts have been in high demand for their specialized knowledge. GenAI, however, offers an instant expert on almost any topic. As a result, Iliana foresees roles like creative directors becoming more prominent in the workplace. 

“With Gen AI … it’s like having a specialty advisor at my fingertips. And so we need to encourage a new breed of skills–generalists that can hop between multiple disciplines and can stitch ideas together.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

In other words, people who can leverage A.I. tools to ask the right questions and understand the big picture will be in higher demand than hyperspecialized experts. 

Closing Thoughts 

The future of work and creativity isn’t just about adapting to new technologies but about harnessing them to elevate human potential. The rise of digital twins, like Laila, shows how A.I. can serve as an extension of ourselves, enhancing productivity, augmenting creativity, and allowing us to focus on tasks that truly require our human touch. 

Iliana’s jump from accountant to blockchain entrepreneur and all the success that followed are testaments to the importance of adaptability. At the same time, though, the emphasis on responsible A.I. development highlights the importance of tempering the pace of tech adoption with ethical decision frameworks. Her story also demonstrates that technical knowledge is only one piece of the puzzle, while soft skills like creativity, empathy, and critical thinking will become more important than ever.

Iliana calls us to embrace, rather than fear, the unprecedented flexibility and power we now have to decide our own fate. 

“We have the ability to use technology and the various societal trends that are afoot to our maximum benefit to design and build a life that actually makes sense for who we are as individuals.”

Iliana Oris Valiente

Links Mentioned in this Podcast

Continue the Conversation

Thank you, Iliana, for joining us on this special episode of Creativity Squared. 

This show is produced and made possible by the team at PLAY Audio Agency: https://playaudioagency.com.  

Creativity Squared is brought to you by Sociality Squared, a social media agency who understands the magic of bringing people together around what they value and love: http://socialitysquared.com.

Because it’s important to support artists, 10% of all revenue Creativity Squared generates will go to ArtsWave, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports over 150 arts organizations, projects, and independent artists.

Join Creativity Squared’s free weekly newsletter and become a premium supporter here.