When asked to write a piece on what it meant to me to become a Global Shaper, I thought to myself if I’m going to answer this question honestly, I need to share a broader picture of what was happening in my life this time last year and how the program had a truly profound effect on me in a unique way.
When I first heard of Global Shapers, I was quick to share the concept with my family, and they naturally shared my excitement to apply. My mother clearly was most excited and we started bouncing some ideas around on how to best approach my application and fantasizing where in the world it may be hosted.
However right in the middle of the application phase, my world collapsed. My brother called me to inform me Mum had been taken to hospital in an ambulance, and I need to fly home immediately. I jumped on the literal next plane and got to her just before she slipped into a coma, one she would never wake from.
I was shattered and Global Shapers was the last thing on my mind, but while we waited by her side for it all to end, my father, brother and sister each encouraged me to submit an application as it was what Mum would have wanted. So sitting on the floor of her hospital room, in what is now a blur I penned some of the ideas she had inspired me with, and hit send. Mum passed three days later.
A month goes by and I’m still struggling with this loss, despite an incredible amount of support from Arcadis. I’m in a rut and my mind is elsewhere. Global Shapers gets announced, and I’m shocked to find I have been successful. I’m overwhelmed simultaneously with both happiness and sadness. Sad only because I couldn’t share the moment with someone I knew would love it.
But this was a defining turning point for me, I suddenly felt like I belonged to something huge and meaningful, and I got my motivation back. I was excited to meet virtually with my Saint Sally team members each week, where we shared more laughs than we did useful ideas. This was very therapeutic in itself, so I am grateful to each of those guys and girls from across the globe for helping pick me up, even though they never knew it.
The face to face soon arrived and being in a room with 100 other brilliant and enthusiastic minds completely re-energized me, I finally felt like my old self again. Sadly during the program, another Shaper lost a grandparent. He was Dutch so was able to go and attend the funeral, but that night he returned to us, bravely stood up in front of the group and explained to everyone that he knew he had to come back, as he just wanted to be surrounded by his new found friends and the group was just that powerful. This is something I truly understood and resonated with me personally.
We were part of a powerful occasion, and for us younger ones it was an occasion that indicated that our leaders actually wanted to invest in the young talent that is Arcadis’s future. Listening and engaging with the generations that will sustain and regenerate the Arcadis performance and reputation is truly visionary and effective.
There are countless benefits to becoming a Global Shaper and I’m sure many have been touched on in similar blog posts, but for me the biggest take away was the power created by the infectious energy of 100 likeminded people, who can come together and overcome anything. And I know without doubt, 100 mothers were made very proud that week.