Meet Ilona Mooney, CEO at Work Ahead, an organization that helps companies advance social sustainability and impact with intuitive and friendly video surveys.
In the quest of solving the problems that the world faces, Ilona Mooney became an engineer, only to find out that her lessons were focused on the developed parts of the world. Having completed her masters in technology at Aalto University, she went on to live in six countries, including Nigeria and Brazil. She is also a startup founder, an angel investor, coach, and advisor. She has worked for organizations like EY, United Nations and even launched a program for startups solving global development challenges at the technology conference called Slush.
Working in these countries, Mooney noticed that people lived and worked very differently than in Finland. They worked full hours and still struggled to make ends meet. Even their working conditions are not sp good. In 2016, she founded Work Ahead in order to address the most pressing issues confronting emerging markets. It develops technology that enterprises use for making their supply chains more ethical and transparent. Iloma believes that brands are responsible for learning about their producers’ working conditions, ensuring they are fairly compensated, and are not exploited. Many of these brands are headquartered in Europe or North America, with producers on the other side of the globe and have no idea about their situations.
Talking more about her organization, she says, “Work Ahead develops video survey technology that organizations use for asking feedback from people working in emerging markets. Brands use the technology for hearing about living and working conditions from workers in their supply chains, investors for measuring impact, and more.” It enables them to hear directly from the people about their working hours and conditions. This helps change their lives for the better. Mooney believes that every person’s opinions matter and brands have to ask the people and help them in the best way possible because, at the end of the day, they are an irreplaceable part of the company’s growth. Work Ahead connects with these companies and assists them in building their sustainable brand.
While working in different organizations in her career and acing her roles, Iloma wanted to work on something that really matters. “Currently, I’m unlearning all the practices I learned about work, and organizing work in a way that is a better fit not just for me personally, but more broadly a reflection of how I believe we should work. Work can be beautiful,” she says.
In Finland and many other countries, it is unusual for women to pursue careers in engineering and technology. As a result, many people question their credibility, which does not happen with male counterparts and also out of their inherent bias against women. Iloma notes that in today’s work environment, most jobs are unsafe ad do not provide sufficient income to lift families out of poverty. Through their software, companies can ensure sustainable and ethical sourcing.
Mooney and her team are dedicated to improving the state of the workforce by making the brands and companies aware of their situations. The best way to do so is through hearing their problems and grievances. In the fast-paced work culture, where most people are busy climbing the corporate ladder, Iloma wishes to create an equal world through her venture. She wants the employees to have a safer workplace and decent to not only survive but also grow out of poverty. Leaving a short but inspiring message for the readers, she says, “Trust yourself in choosing your own path in life and working on topics that matter to you. The most important person to believe in you, is you!”