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By @SimonCocking

Antonio Santos Digital Inclusion Community Manager. New Media Orchestras, analytics-research-strategy-coaching.Neurodiversity Adv. Rotary member and @AXSChat co-founder

Your background, how did you get into what you do now?

I’m was honoured to serve in the Portuguese military so am proud to be a veteran.  During my service in the army I studied sociology.  I worked in the public sector, and co-founded a startup that focused on social services.  In early 2000, I was attracted by the Tech boom and started working for a Telco.  One position led to another and now I work in digital solutions for Atos, one of the largest tech companies in the world.

Cork, how did you end up there, why is it a great place to live?

I started working for one the Portuguese telecom companies, managing teams in customer service and special projects.  In 2006, Siemens heard about my work about offered me a position in Cork.

What is a digital inclusion manager and what do they do?

I collaborate on cross sector projects in the private and public sectors related to digital inclusion, social media and business intelligence. I am focussed on the analytics, so I use data to help our customers create sustainable and measurement digital experiences. The team also helps our customers engage with clients, potential clients and build communities.Digital inclusion goes beyond accessibility for people with disabilities and is designed at engaging the widest possible cross section of society in life online.

What is neurodiversity ?

Neurodiversity is a positive way of addressing the fact that many people’s brains are wired differently.  Whilst the term originated in the Autism community it has since been adopted by people with other neurological differences such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit Disorders and Dyscalculia.  Neurodiversity celebrates the positive aspects of people’s differences recognising that whilst neurodiverse people may struggle in some areas they often have great strengths and talents that need to be recognised and nurtured.

For example entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and Architect Richard Rogers are dyslexic and Dan Aykroyd  is autistic. All three are highly successful individuals and illustrate that neurodiverse people are different not less.

My #AXSChat collaborators Neil Milliken and Debra Ruh are both neurodiverse (Neil is Dyslexic and Debra is ADHD) so often the chats that we run on twitter around accessibility and inclusion have a focus on Neurodiversity.  Two recent examples of this are the interviews we did with  Dr Christopher Lee from Georgia Tech and Leena Haque who is the BBC neurodiversity lead.

You have a lot of interests, how do you manage them all?

At least partially because of my background in sociology. Together with Anthropology, these are two disciplines that can help us to understand our social world.

Today when you talk about social media, customer experience, talent management, accessibility, internet of things, analytics, you need to understand the social element. Why – because this is the glue that holds them all together and how they all connect are my core passion.

You’re involved in startup Cork, what tips would you give to people trying to start up a new company?

Do the best you can with what you have – an old saying but I find it is real wisdom.  Today you can start a company with an idea, a decent laptop and good internet connection.   Everything you need to start a business is now available at your fingertips.  Do your research and don’t try to compete with Google.

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With Dan Spicer from HootSuite and Will Martin, during the 2014, Cork Start-up Weekend.

If you end up in a startup program, demand excellence from those coaching you. Remember your time is valuable so if someone is not on the same page or playing from an old play book, talking about faxes or traditional press, look for better more informed people.

A degree is only a start and it can be your passport to continue your learning experience for the rest of your life.

How was the last 12 months for you?

At work we achieved a significant goal by reducing the email workload by 64%.  We also operate an internal social network, based on communities to allow us to truly engage with each other and tap into great ideas and drive innovation.

I’m proud of what we achieved during the IT Cork Tech Summit 2015. Two articles about Cork in Forbes and most of it was done as a top organic Twitter campaign.

I had the pleasure to have my friends and social media superstars, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W.Grossman in Cork. We have been collaborating for years in one the top Twitter chats (#TChat) in the US, but we never had the chance to be face to face until this year.

I was also able to start a project focused on accessibility, with the help of Debra Ruh and Neil Milliken.We co-founded a Twitter chat (@axschat).It’s now one of the leading Twitter chats in Europe with more than 80.000 mentions and a spread that reached 270.000.000 people. We have a weekly guest and great response from the community. We had guests from all over the world from all walks including heads of state, billionaire investors, individuals with disabilities, multi-national corporations and more. You can check the videos interviews from our previous guests here .

Anything you would do differently if you could?

I don’t spend energy thinking in the past, but I always try to learn from my mistakes.  Maybe I should learn to say the word NO more often but I have no regrets.

Where do you hope to be in next 1 – 3 years?

I hope to be able to spend more time working remotely from Portugal and grow the @axschat community to become a leading accessibility and disability inclusion organization.  These efforts can really help create an inclusive world.

What tech do you wish was already invented and available to make your life easier?

Government is an important part of our lives, but we seem to design software like Snapchat with more care than we design Public Services.

Life / work, online / offline, what are your strategies for managing it?

I don’t have one.  My life is a blending of everything that matters to me.  Live merged with work, offline merged with online. I do what I have to do, when something needs to be done. I don’t work on a schedule.

How / where do you create time for yourself to be a dreamer and a thinker?

I read science fiction, biographies and poetry. I’m a fan of Daniel Suarez. I like to stay awake until late, with Opera music on the background. Besides that, photography also helps me relax.

Anything else we should have asked you / you’d like to add?

I would like to invite you to the first ?hackathon, on an ??Irish ??Airport –  ?#?flyhackfly – next month in Cork city.

HF