Below, Jens Christoph Parker (Interface’s company candidate) and I (Laura Cremer, Internal Communications & Sustainability Manager Europe at Interface) share our impressions and insights from the 2015 Nudge Global Leadership Challenge by means of a Q&A. The Nudge Global Leadership Challenge is a development programme and competition for young leaders in sustainability of the future and was held 20th to 22nd November 2015 in the vicinity of Amsterdam. International speakers shared latest insights in the fields of leadership and sustainability. We, as participants gained insight into our own talents and development areas by means of a development assessment, role-plays and case studies.
Q&A Laura & Jens
1) What did you thought when Jan Van Betten, founder of the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge, promised a life changing experience right at the beginning of the conference? Looking back do you think he was right? And if yes, what made the conference to a life-changing experience for you?
Jens: To be honest, everytime somebody promises to me something as big as a life-changing event there are two conflicting thoughts running through my head. On the one hand, I was extremly excitied and impressed by his confidence. On the other hand, I thought this is very bad expectition management. I hope he will be able to live up to his promise. Looking back I am happy to confirm: He did.
Laura: I have visited many conferences and usually there is always a person at the beginning who makes a big promise. So, nothing really new. This time this person was Jan Van Betten, Founder & CEO of Nudge. Well, I have to admit that the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge is not some kind of conference. Even if it sounds weird, there was a special atmosphere from the moment I entered the beautiful venue in Santpoort, about 30 km from Amsterdam and things felt different. It is hard to put into words what happened within the next few days. What I can confirm is that for me, yes, it was a life changing event. It is the mixture of meeting like-minded people from all over the world, being mentally challenged and getting to know yourself a bit better.
2) Looking back, is there an agenda item which influenced you the most? If there is one, why do you think that is the case?
Jens: At one point throughout the challenge we got thoughtfule advice from the kids of The Missing Chapter foundation, e.g. “If you are afraid you will never achieve anything” or “You should admit that making mistakes is okay, because it can help to find new ideas”. I was truely amazed by the natural wisdom of these kids. It reminded me of the importance of intergenerational dialogue.
Laura: The agenda over the three days was packed and included lots of personal highlights. However, there was one agenda item which touched me the most. In the afternoon of day 1 we were asked to present our leadership ideas for a better sustainable future by means of a catwalk presentation. Although, a long exhausting day was behind us, I was impressed by the abundance of ideas as well as the energy and good spirits in the room. This exercise has shown me again a recalled that everyone of us can make a difference towards a sustainable future in the own scope of influence. Below you can find two pictures showing Jens and I during our catwalk presentation.
3) Throughout the weekend Interface has been mentioned as a good practice example concerning sustainablity. What did you think when that happened?
Laura: Well, I’m biased concerning this question, because I’m employed with Interface. It is part of my role in Interface sharing our sustainability story and experience in this field with external stakeholders. However, every single time it makes me proud coming across Interface in publications, hearing guest speakers like Marga Hoek, CEO Sustainable Business Association, Chairman Sustainable Science Association and author of the management book of the year 2014 ‘New Economy Business’ talking about Interface as a best-practice example during the challenge or listening to our President & CEO, Rob Boogaard sharing our story with my fellow Nudge participants over dinner. It think sharing what Interface has experienced on its journey towards becoming a sustainable enterprise is a huge impact we can have as a rather small company compared to Danone or eBay. For me it is still inspiring listening to what has happened in Interface when Ray Anderson decided to launch ‘Mission Zero’. I hope it felt the same for everyone else in the room.
Jens: I have to admit that I didn´t know Interface before applying for the Nudge Global Leadership Challenge. Throughout the entire experience I was amazed to learn how for Interface sustainability is not a lip service, but a core part of its corporate DNA. Every time Interface was mentioned once more as a good practice example, I was a little prouder to be one of its candidates.
4) Please share 3 good reasons why someone should participate/apply for the Nudgle Global Leadership Challenge 2016?
Jens: The Nudgle Global Leadership Challenge gives you the amazing opporunity to meet inspiring people from all over the world, learn more about your personal strengths and it gives you access to inspring spreakers which share their personal insights.
1) You will come across new information and stimuli away from day-to-day business practice.
2) You will get the chance to develop your personality and leadership skills.
3) You will have lots of new like-minded friends on every continent.
5) What was your key take away/what is resonating the most with you 4 weeks after the challenge?
Jens: I am still reflecting on all the amazing things that happened and there are many take aways from this amazing experience. My key take away is the fact that around the world people are taking on the challenge to lead the parth to a sustainable future and I want to be part of this exciting journey. In the next 6 months I want to bring to life my impact plan which I outlined for the challenge. I want to kick start an online community focusing on enabling the potential of sustainble investements.
Laura: I am also still digesting and processing what I have learned. My key take away is that I was reaffirmed that sustainability is the way to go. Within the coming 6 months I am looking forward putting my Sustainability Impact Plan into action, which I committed myself to work on during the challenge. My Sustainability Impact Plan encompasses showing that business can be a force for huge positive change.
To close, we would like to thank the entire Nudge Team for unforgettable 3 days and a truly life-changing experience. Thank you Jan Van Betten, Ilse Lettinga, Andrea Steinwinter, Rick Koster and Yori Kamphuis from LeaderScope.nl, Pepijn and Bibi Veth for the wonderful pictures. Click here to see the complete picture diary and to get inspired.
Laura Cremer & Jens Christoph Parker