My Global Shapers journey started with the “Crack the Safe Challenge” when I was stuck on the very first puzzle. I couldn’t figure it out and no one in my vicinity had any clues either. Left with nowhere to turn and in spite of my anxiety about standing out, I decided to reach out to other Global Shapers Generation 2015 hopefuls who I knew would also be trying to solve the puzzle at the same time I was. I posted on the GS2015 Yammer page and asked my fellow applicants to work together with me to open the safe. The first few minutes after I posted my message on Yammer felt like an eternity as I waited for someone to respond. My anxiety about standing out proved to be unfounded as responses to my post started coming in one after another with fellow applicants wanting to work together to solve this puzzle. With the help of several other global shapers applicants, I was able to solve all of the puzzles and I ultimately cracked the safe, even though I wasn’t one of the first five to do so.
Thankfully, my application was accepted and I was chosen as a global shaper for Generation 2015! During the kickoff call, I learned that I would be the “Initiator” for my virtual team, which ultimately led to me being the captain of my virtual team of seven. Leading a team of 6 other young leaders and coordinating virtual meetings with people in 5 different time zones was a daunting task. Fortunately, my teammates were flexible and stepped up to share the leadership responsibility with me by creating a shared availability calendar and volunteering to run meetings at various points during the virtual phase. The Generation 2015 challenge was #Engage and it compelled us to think critically about what a person needs from their company in order to be an engaged professional in whatever role he or she plays within the company. I was thoroughly impressed with how well our team worked together to complete the three phases of the virtual challenge.
The third stage of my GS 2015 journey was the face to face meeting. It was incredible to meet my teammates who I had only seen virtually up until this point. It was also great to meet the other global shapers that I had not had the chance to engage since we were on different teams. I made it a personal goal to take on a leadership role at the face to face challenge. I volunteered to be a co-captain of the Branding Workflow. Standing up when Sylke asked for volunteers was intimidating, but I did it because I had a goal that I wanted to achieve during this journey and I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I hadn’t at least tried to do it. I made great friends in the 5 days I spent working with the Branding Team and I learned that a great leader is one who ensures that everyone’s voice is heard no matter how loud or soft. It was a pleasure to share my experience with my co-workers in the U.S. and creating the ripple effect by encouraging other young Arcadians to apply for Global Shapers. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in applying to do it. It was an experience I will never forget and the connections I made through the program are ones that I will have for my entire professional career.
Zenas M. Walelo
Arcadis North America