A friend in every corner of the world

01 février 2017

My name is Rick de Boer (28) from Amsterdam and I’m working at Arcadis for a little over three years. I spend most of my time on Asset Management of Infrastructure and I am proud to call myself a Global Shaper. Thinking back at the Global Shapers experience, now three months later, the moment I remember most vividly is the moment we had to say goodbye. After five days of hard work, a lot of laughter and memorable moments, this ‘goodbye-moment’ was quite intense. I didn’t expect it to happen, but I could not resist the tears coming up. In the days before, I met so many great colleagues from over the world and made memories I will never forget. In this blog, I would like to give you a little insight into the journey that took me to that moment and the lessons I’ve learned from the whole experience.

Almost a year ago, in the spring of 2016 the buzz of Global Shapers started coming up. After not being selected for two years in a row I was very eager to join this time. But I was not the only one. Hundreds of Arcadians from all over the world where connecting through Twitter, Yammer and Facebook to solve puzzles together and to help each other to win a much-desired Golden Ticket that would give early access to Global Shapers 2016. Unfortunately, I didn’t win one. The fact that two of my buddies, Tamara (Brazil) and RK (Philippines), did win a golden ticket gave me an extra motivation boost to make a great application video later. I tried to be as original as possible and used video footage I took in the countries that I visited during my trip on the Trans-Siberian Express (Russia, Mongolia and China). After dozens of re-takes, hours of editing and weeks of waiting I got the good news: I was selected!

Rick - Virtual team

During the Virtual Phase that followed we worked together (through Skype) on all kinds of assignments and challenges as a preparation for the face-2-face-phase in Doha. We learned a lot about the international company that Arcadis is and discovered our cultural differences. By studying the Hofstede theory, I learned that compared to the U.A.E. I live in a very feminine country. And, although I sometimes experience it differently, hierarchy is of little importance when you compare the Netherlands to China. These are all useful insights when you are about to work closely together. Time flew by, international connections were made and we were all well-prepared when we took the plane to Qatar.

None of us, however, expected it to be as amazing as it turned out to be. It is hard pinpoint what made us bond so quickly. Maybe it was the hard work at late hours, maybe it was the collective cheering (and dancing) when someone was rewarded with an achievement-button, maybe it was the it was the self-pity (and fun!) that everyone felt when we were doing sports at 7 am after three hours of sleep, maybe it were the cool excursions like the desert-jeep-safari or the Doha-bay-boat-tour. It probably is the mixture of it all, collectively experienced by 108 young people from dozens of cultures, that made the experience so unique.

Looking back at GS I have learned two major things, that I will always remember:

  • If you work hard enough and keep on trying, you can achieve anything you like. In my case the third application was a charm, and I’m glad I kept on trying.
  • Everybody on this planet is so much different, but also so much alike. The way of working might be different when you compare two countries from different sides of the world, but at the same time, we laughed about the same jokes and danced on the same music.

Now my biggest challenge is to keep the ball rolling. I will maintain my global network, in both a professional way and private way, during holidays. I now have a friend in every corner of the world! So, for all people considering to join Global Shapers anytime in the future I only have one advice: Make sure you stand out of the crowd and go for it!

Rick - Branding

Rick de Boer

Global Shaper: Generation 2016