‘The feeling of being a kid at Christmas’

I first heard about Global Shapers a year and a half ago, when a good friend and colleague started looking to apply for a place in the fourth edition of the program as part of Generation 2015. Not knowing that his year would be headed for Amsterdam, I heard the program had already been held in many different cities around the world, providing young employees the opportunity to meet and work with Global Leaders. It sounded like something I too would love to take part in. When I got my chance to apply for this year’s edition, I was thrilled!

The pre-application phase was lots of fun. I touched base with Arcadians from at least twenty different countries around the world, creating and sharing little graphics on social media every week or so after I would get home from work. The most enjoyable part though putting together a final application video to be part of Generation 2016. While I knew it had to be short, I didn’t quite know how best to roll my experience with Arcadis and my personality into one. I made a start on one crazy idea, but went for something Wilder in the end… animating a still of Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompas!

Luckily for me, Willy and his team of client-focussed Oompa Loompas paid off. When it was announced that I made the cut, I was over the moon! I knew it meant so much to my friend who had been part of Generation 2015 the year before (he’s six-foot nine and I’ve always looked up to him) and I couldn’t wait to get involved myself.

During the Virtual Phase of the program, I worked with a team comprising Arcadians from Romania, the Netherlands, Mexico, the United States of America, the Philippines, the United Kingdom. Guided by the Arcadis Global Leader for Highways and Intelligent Transport Systems, we worked together across at least six different time zones to complete virtual assignments. For me, working from Sydney in Australia, this meant many a late night, but I never complained. I looked forward to catching up with my virtual team, discussing their days and helping to pull together some really great work on client development and cultural awareness; something that I’m sure will stand me in good stead down the line.

At the end of October, I could hardly wait to meet my virtual mates, let alone the other hundred Global Shapers, at the Face to Face program. I had also purchased a plush kangaroo suit to wear; it had waited patiently in my closet for the few months leading up to the Face to Face program and was eager to be worn!

Having long since forgotten the feeling of being a kid at Christmas, I never expected to feel what I felt in Doha, Qatar. The excitement, the happiness and the sleepless nights… I loved every part of it. The days were packed with sports activities each morning, work for the best part of the days and cultural activities most nights (including a desert safari in a convoy of Land Cruisers and a boat cruise off the coast of Doha!).


All in all, I feel I have really started to develop three main things as part of this year’s Global Shapers program:

  • a better understanding of how Arcadis works across countries, continents and cultures;
  • relationships with other Global Shapers and Global Leaders; and
  • confidence enough to know that honesty and integrity are not just personal qualities worth having, but are of the highest value to our colleagues and clients around the world.

So I look forward to the year ahead, contributing to the Global Shapers legacy and to inspiring the next generation of Arcadians to take up the mantle. Thanks to those who encouraged me to be a part of such a wonderful program, provided me the opportunity to do so, and welcomed me with a big smile, a hug or a pat on the back each morning in Doha.

Generation 2016 has already achieved so much and the thought that I shared a conference room with each and every one of them for a week brings a smile to my face. Thanks for making my year.

James Harvey

Global Shaper: Generation 2016


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