When I joined Arcadis two years ago I made myself one promise: never lose my curiosity. Would I ever feel bored or not challenged anymore; that would be my cue to go. The moment I heard about the Global Shapers program, I knew that this would be an amazing new opportunity I wanted to pursue. Gathering 100 young professionals who differ in so many ways – background, country, language, interests, skills, talents – but have one main thing in common: curiosity.
It all started with the pre-application game, consisting of different puzzles that could only be solved through collaboration between countries and business lines. First contact and new friendships started to grow from this early stage. Next step was the actual application. We were challenged to propose a new generation trend in the global market that could add value to our local clients. I have seen some magnificent applications, so I was very honoured when I got selected for Global Shapers: generation 2016!
All Global Shapers were divided into virtual teams, challenged to learn about each other’s cultures and customs, as well as each other’s personalities and preferences when it comes to collaboration. In the last phase we developed the first foundations of the concepts of this year’s theme: Client Focus.
The three virtual phases built up to the face-to-face program in Qatar. Initially, we were complete strangers, only recognizing fellow global shapers by our name tags. The program officially kicked-off by a classic goosebump-moment when we were shown a video that took us back to where it all began. I am certain that every one of us felt so proud to be part of Generation 2016!
The following days we worked in five different workflows: one for each concept (Client Passport, Mentor Program, Social Media Success Stories), one for Branding, and one for the Grand Final. I was very curious about all the workflows, but I was also curious about my personal abilities to lead a team, so I decided to run for workflow captain. Together with Laila, one of the Global Shapers from our local client Ashghal, I was challenged to lead the Grand Final workflow. And it was a rollercoaster!
From the moment we started, we were practically thrown into the deep end. We had no clue what was expected from us, Laila and me (nor the team) were not (yet) acquainted, and we were supposed to lead a group of people who neither knew what to do. In this pressure-cooker we had to manage all tasks and deliverables and make sure we delivered our products in time. However, as a captain I felt my most important task was to recognize everyone’s talent and to make sure that everyone felt appreciated and contributing to the team. And that is the most valuable, inspiring, and touching thing that I’ve learned: when you recognize and appreciate someone’s talent and you trust them to pursue that, extraordinary team effort will show.
For several nights we worked until 4.00AM or even 6.00AM (or for some: no sleep at all). Tiredness, however, did not win from the energy that was still there. I have never seen so much dedication and mutual appreciation than in those four days. I was practically sleep deprived, but I did not feel tired at all, because I was lifted up by the energy of everyone.
And then the moment came we all worked for: the grand final! In an airport setting, we had all visitors check-in, receive their boarding passes and called into the room where our concepts would be presented. All visitors, including the executive board and the president of Ashghal, were very impressed by the results. And rightly so, it was amazing!
Due to the Global Shapers program I have both learned and grown significantly on a personal level. I gained insight in my working preferences, my working attitude, as well as my personal habits, strengths and weaknesses. But most important, I have learned that teamwork really makes the dream work. Global Shapers truly was the most inspiring experience of my life and I am curious what the future holds for all of us!
Global Shaper: Generation 2016