“If you had asked me in early 2017 what my ideal life would be, I would have said being a Managing Director of an Investment Bank.
I thought top-down management enabled one to make a change. And then, the Nudge Global Impact Challenge happened, where I learned that bottom-up initiatives change the world.
My impact plan involved leaving First Metro, a top Philippine investment bank, after 6 years of working there and starting PeoplePods, an impact-driven start-up with Dan, my husband. We provide dignified and affordable housing communities for bottom-of-the-pyramid migrant workers. We find ways to construct and operate more sustainably and we are continuously searching for funding to scale operations. Through Nudge, I found ways to target almost all the SDGs in our business model.
The Nudge Global Impact Challenge was a perfect venue to meet 90 passionate changemakers with over 35 nationalities. I met participants from Dubai, Australia, New York, Russia, Belgium, France, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and of course the Netherlands. The programme brings together a global mix of talents and fields (such as engineering, HR, finance, strategy etc) meaning you do not have to be the sustainability officer of your company.
Photo by Paul Reehorst
Winning as ‘Best Global Young Leader in Sustainability 2017’ with Sabine and Erin was a bonus. For me, the actual value is how Nudge mentors continue to guide me and help me to implement a concrete, actionable and business-oriented plan. I am so thankful to be chosen as the first Filipina to do a TED talk in the Netherlands later this year because of Nudge.
How it all began…
My journey began when I came across the Challenge online through the Youth Opportunities Facebook page. The social impact theme resonated with me after a decade’s worth of volunteer projects in the poorest parts of Southeast Asia.
Ilse Lettinga, the manager of the Nudge Global Impact Challenge, interviewed me. I felt her high motivation, genuine kindness and expertise in our Skype call which made me very excited. Once I was selected as a wild card participant, I was tasked to do my pre-challenge assignments: a leadership capacity assessment and an impact plan.
I arrived in Zeist and felt one with nature, especially after the outdoor team-building activities. Everything was in theme. Even the notebooks they gave were made of 80% recycled rock, and the food was vegetarian. A Nudge app provided announcements, schedules, reading materials and a chatroom. My Nudge friends gave me powerful insights: Sarah approached me and talked about 3D printing furniture using 100% recycled plastics; Kevin sketched the layout of his container dorm in Delft; Anne and Edgar went a step further and brought me to the housing project in Spaklerweg Amsterdam for both students and asylum seekers.
The Challenge was well-structured and well-paced. Knowledgeable speakers gave valuable frameworks and mapping exercises. Nudge exposes participants to the best practices and strategies in sustainability beyond environmental and carbon neutral operations. Sustainability should be intrinsic in every business and can be in the form of financial transparency and supply chain traceability.
My individual coach and peer coach gave me mindfulness exercises and challenged my impact plan. LeaderScope facilitated personality development workshops – I particularly enjoyed learning the art of storytelling. I also had the chance to speak with the founder of Nudge, Jan van Betten, who believes that the Challenge will help youth leaders make the change for a better world.
Photo by Bibi Veth
It was unforgettable to celebrate a night at the Peace Palace in the Hague for the Nudge Summit, which CEOs and top management attend. I remember that the person sitting next to me was a researcher for climate change in the North Pole. This shows how spectacularly my network grew through Nudge. We also learned about the Maasai in Kenya and started the jumping challenge to raise funds. The networking event resulted in partnerships amongst various corporates.
I strongly believe that the Challenge creates high value for any organisation – it’s not one of those one-off seminars. It is an 8-month development programme for impact plans to be realised in firms. Nudge helped me reflect deeply on my first sparkle for social change and inspired me to go forward with concrete action. The uniqueness of the programme is its Challenge-format which promotes friendly competition and active participation. Each participant is graded per activity and the top 10 become finalists.
I am so thankful to the organisers and participants because my experience of this programme opened up my world. It helped me craft creative solutions to promote inclusiveness and business sustainability in PeoplePods. Nudge gave all of us the drive and power to change the world.”
Photo by Bibi Veth