What to Expect When You’re Expecting (The Unexpected)

Twenty four hours later, I stepped off my second flight of the day. Groggy but oddly wired for almost midnight, I stood in the airport staring at a sign welcoming me to Malaysia—or at least that’s what I assumed. Let’s be honest; I don’t read Malay! For all I know, it could have actually said just about anything else.

But I digress.

It’s been a long road leading to Global Shapers, and despite weeks of digital sessions, Skype calls and WhatsApp chats, I still wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived. Hilariously—and quite comfortingly—it seemed that many of my colleagues were also still in the dark.

We gathered at noon on the day of the kick-off, all a bit awkwardly in the Malaysian heat. Quickly, though, the sweat and the nervousness melted away. It’s cliché, I know, but honestly, there’s no other way to describe it. We were all connected by something bigger than us—and we were ready to change the world…or at least the company.

Splitting into six workflows—Arcadis Culture, Forward Digital, Branding, Sustainability Platform, Future Perspectives and Grand Finale—we dove in head first. Each workflow had a specific mission and a number of deliverables. In the case of the branding team, we had more than a few.

It’s tough to put into words what happens each day at Global Shapers. (Common, Lucy, you’re a writer for goodness’ sake). But I’ve seen dancing, Boomerangs, boot camps and board rooms. Sketching, brainstorming, laughing and even a bit of midnight swimming.

It’s more than a networking event, and it’s more than world travel. It’s so much fun, but it’s also really, really hard. As I write this, I’m on my fourth cup of coffee for the day, and it’s not even 4p.m. But watching each team take ownership of their deliverables and meeting fascinating people from around the world makes every late night and every lost voice worth it. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

So, cheers to next steps and three more days of GS.

Lucy Leonard, Global Shaper 2017 & Workflow captain #Branding

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