Global Shapers – What a great year, what a great experience

07 January 2016

Schermafbeelding 2016-01-07 om 09.26.532015 is already over. The year I was able to participate in Global Shapers. What a great year, what a great experience.

In June 2015 I wrote my application for Global Shapers. Those were busy times, because at the same time the European refugee crisis arose and I was at that time (and still am) responsible for the acquisition of new refugee shelter locations in the Netherlands.

Of course I was very happy being selected. The first phases of the program were all ‘virtual’. You wouldn’t think that this would be a really constructive part, but it was. I had some very positive en productive conference calls with some fellow global shapers from all over the world, but also, already, with some global leaders. Very inspiring! They pushed us to think on a strategic level which I really enjoyed.

But unfortunately, when the face to face part started, I was still tired of the heave workload from housing refugees. Nevertheless, it did work out quite well. I was able to forget all the hassle from work and getting to know so many nice new people gave me renewed energy.

The program touched on different themes. We were able to choose between five workflows to work on and it was allowed to switch between them. I have a great sense of responsibility, so normally, I would choose one subject to work on very dedicated. But, this time, I wanted to learn something different. I wanted to experience what would happen if I would participate in different workflows and by this, would focus on the different processes, not on the outcome. The fact that the people we worked with came from different cultures, made this even more interesting.

In the end, I enjoyed the process of the #engage group the most. We worked on tools to attract and retain talent for Arcadis. The way the group achieved the best results was admirable. By trial and error with some hearted people the results became better and better. Eventually I had the most interest for the group developing a global platform for Arcadis’ capabilities, because before the whole GS journey started I was already involved in a “Gen-Y” team (An Arcadis Europe healthcare team) who wanted to develop something like this, but didn’t have the proper tools.

Schermafbeelding 2016-01-07 om 09.27.01After the GS program it became clear that the proper tools are always there, but you just have to grab them. The UK Global Shapers in fact did receive funding from the UK CEO to develop a capabilities platform. Recently it became clear to me why such a platform could help us. Recently my boyfriend moved to Vietnam and possibly I want to join him. But with the current online tools Arcadis provides, I am not able to explore how I can use my strengths and knowledge in this region. A platform which entails real life examples, key projects and reliable contacts for all of our capabilities all over the world would definitely help me.
Of course, everybody knows the year 2015 ended less successful. All over Europe we are still busy finding shelter for refugees and by all means Paris scared the world. I get to this, because when this happened, I – for the first time – actually realized that I now know people all over the world, whom I care for. But overall, for me, 2015 was a fantastic year.

Cathelijne van den Berg  – Consultant
Arcadis Rotterdam