TheBridge profile: Emil Pitkin
Name: Emil Pitkin
Current city: Washington, DC
Current job: CEO, GovPredict
Past job: Faculty, Wharton Statistics Department
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Compass Coffee
Q. Describe how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your current job. I've taught close to 1,500 MBA students and 1,000 undergraduates at Wharton. They are bright, sharp, and curious, but also exacting and demanding: every lecture has to be honed and polished and reworked to meet their standards. The practice of speaking in front of large lecture halls and engaging the attention of hundreds of people has been invaluable in teaching me how to lead and motivate my team and my DC colleagues.
Q. Job advice in three words? Do your job
Q. How are you (or your company) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech / innovation and regulation? GovPredict has split the atom: we've taken the powerful information trapped in millions of unstructured federal, state, and local political documents, and unlocked it. We were born in Silicon Valley, and have taken SV engineering practices to take this data and layer it on an integrated influence platform that spans grassroots advocacy campaigns, political coalition management, and campaign finance research. This has made GovPredict the most comprehensive SaaS solution on the market, giving public affairs and political professionals access to the broadest data and the most sophisticated platform to maximize their influence.
Q. What can Silicon Valley (innovators) teach DC (regulators)? Creative destruction can be salutary, and the transformation of industries and disruption of incumbents is made possible by a regulatory regime that doesn't choke innovation. Whichever regulations promote and protect experimentation and risk taking will see a manyfold return.
Separately, platforms that level the playing field and enable citizens and stakeholders to petition government at any level more effectively are worthwhile. That's what we try to do at GovPredict, but many other good companies promote the same mission. DC (regulators) could invest more in citizen engagement tools without relying as heavily on Silicon Valley.
Q. What can DC (regulators) teach Silicon Valley (innovators)? Embrace the union between DC and Silicon Valley. The relationship between innovators and regulators can and should be collaborative. What's most important is to develop relationships early on, plead your case, and in so doing educate regulators whose sphere of knowledge might not overlap with the rapidly accelerating innovation being born in Silicon Valley.
Q. How do you unwind after work? I play the piano. Chopin on calm days, and Rachmaninoff on stormy ones.
Q. Last time you were completely unplugged? In the summer of 2017, in the woods in California.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? A healthy and balanced life outside of work.
Q. Looking back, what advice would you give yourself in the beginning of your career? Do -- and hope.
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