Impact Story – Vanessa Hagad

Currently in the process of moving to Arcadis Canada, Vanessa Hagad has been an Arcadian for six years now. Her journey with the Lovinklaan Foundation started when she joined our former program, Global Shapers, a few years ago, and it continues with her exciting role as Global Community Engagement Manager for our Local Sparks program. In this Impact Story, Vanessa tells us how these programs shaped her professional growth and helped her build lasting connections with fellow Arcadians around the world.

Global Shapers: A Transformative First Step 

In 2018, Vanessa embarked on her first Lovinklaan-sponsored program, Global Shapers, in Boston, the U.S.A. This opportunity came at the early stages of her Arcadis career, only a year into her journey in the company. The Global Shapers experience was a revelation, exposing her to Arcadis’ global presence and the diversity of its operations. 

Vanessa says one of the most remarkable aspects of this program was the speed at which participants were able to collaborate. Over a few days, they combined their distinct skill sets to achieve common goals. This experience taught Vanessa the art of rapid rapport-building, a skill she still cherishes. Each team at Global Shapers was tasked to come up with a project proposal to showcase the different business lines of Arcadis. Vanessa’s group chose to present a transport hub rehabilitation proposal called “Destination Dalton.” Going beyond the confines of the event, the proposal was eventually further developed and was even presented by team members to the local government of Dalton in the UK.  This truly showed the power of teamwork in delivering exceptional results.  

Vanessa believes one of the enduring gifts of Global Shapers was the lasting connections it forged. Even years later, she remains in touch with the Arcadians she met during that event. She describes these bonds as a testament to the enduring value of Lovinklaan programs in fostering connections that transcend borders and time. 

Accelerating Achievements with Local Sparks  

In 2022, Vanessa joined her second Lovinklaan program, Local Sparks, an umbrella program that provides the opportunity to pitch and receive funding for the implementation of societal and environmental community projects around the world. About a year ago, Vanessa assumed the part-time role of Global Community Engagement Program Manager for the program. This position required her to collaborate across global time zones, working with her counterpart, Vicki Chou, based in New York. Despite the geographical distance, Vanessa and Vicki found a harmonious working rhythm, effectively managing their responsibilities to publish the Local Sparks 2019-2022 Report, a testament to the program’s achievements over three years.  

Vanessa’s role within Local Sparks also provided her with the opportunity to witness the on-ground implementation of two of the “Accelerator” (long-term) projects in the Philippines. The first project called “MARE! Center” is a one-stop sustainability-driven waste management solution that includes a cost-effective waste collection system and an easy-to-install materials recovery facility. The second project called “Project Alpha” is a community support initiative for an indigenous population community which included the construction of a community empowerment centre. The exposure deepened her understanding of the challenges and needs of local teams, informing future Accelerator applications. “It was very inspiring working with these teams, seeing first-hand how passionately involved they are with their local communities,” Vanessa says.  

Serendipitous Connections 

Vanessa shared some of the unexpected personal benefits of participating in Lovinklaan programs with us. For instance, during her time with Global Shapers, she had a chance to adjust her travel schedule to spend precious moments with family, “Global Shapers being in Boston that year was very serendipitous for me, as it allowed me to see my parents, who I often don’t see because they were based in Chicago while I was based in Manila. On a deeply personal level, I have always been very grateful for every opportunity to visit my family. In this regard, Arcadis too was able to show me that they put people first as a company.” 

Five years later, when Vanessa was able to meet her Local Sparks co-program manager in New York on the same visa, she says, “It felt like a full circle moment to cap off my Lovinklaan program experience.”  

The Ripple Effect 

Beyond individual transformations, Vanessa believes that Lovinklaan programs go on to inspire the overall Arcadis community. She says each program generates its own unique “Ripple Effect” which “keeps people interested and excited for what Lovinklaan can offer to support the Arcadis community.” These narratives engage and excite others about the possibilities Lovinklaan offers to support the Arcadis community.  

Vanessa’s message to all fellow Arcadians considering participation in Lovinklaan programs is clear: persevere and keep applying. Her advice? 

The more you apply, the more you get to know the programs and the more you get to explore how they best fit you. If you don’t get in this year, there is always next year. If not this program, there will always be other programs, or even new programs, with the Lovinklaan Foundation always busy coming up with the next enriching experience for employees.”


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