There are many types of people you meet through work - leaders, team players, risk-takers and the caution controllers. However, when in a new business environment, one hopes to come across the risk-taker, the early adopter of new ideas, the one who is prepared to take a risk in a new concept and back it to their board. Thankfully, back in 2018, as I negotiated my way through the cityscape, I came across the ultimate. Thank you, Jay, for agreeing to meet with me, for listening and for taking your own Leap of faith helping launch the Leap into the corporate world.
Our brief was simple
"Gather our CSR team from around the world for the annual offsite. Inspire us, involve us in a sustainable project and create an experience to enhance our CSR objectives." A walk in the park for myself who had years of logistical expertise and plans were set in motion. After a swift game of around the world in 100 days, we decided on the Philippines. As it was globally central, and the school specialises in science-related subjects, thus giving relevance to Finastra's own business.
What I hadn't appreciated was what would happen during the week...
The plan was to build a new computer room for the 6th form, donate 35 laptops from Finastra's obsolete technology and to sponsor /mentor these kids for years to come through their Manila office.
What we didn't expect was the effect across the whole community. We had the Mayor and the Director of Tourism popping up all week to thank the team for choosing them... out of the entire world, Finastra decided to support them. This was a concept that was hard for them to process but so satisfying for their morale. I remember being whizzed along to the school in a tuk-tuk, as I hopped out the driver shook my hand and said "thank you, my son is at this school. The new computer room will make all the difference to their learning and the excitement of the week has made them part of an international arena, widening their beliefs in themselves and what they could possibly achieve with their own lives."
It was a moment for me and made me realise, this is so much more than a computer room.
To kick start the week we took part in a basketball school tournament – everyone entered into the spirit of things, mixed teams and school skills were remembered. But this afternoon was so much more than a sweaty tournament, it started a friendship which was to blossom over the course of the week.
These kids are the brightest of the bright. They have passed numerous exams to get here, their parents have sacrificed everything, and the pressure for them to succeed is immense. Sadly, this comes at a cost, and the kids openly told us that anxiety and the fear of failure were prevalent. How could they let their families down? How could they choose a different path when so much was riding on them?
What a privilege this was to be able to mentor, steer and affect the course of these kids lives. I felt immensely proud of what we achieved and what we had started.
35 employees from around the world joined forces in the middle of the Philippines. Some had travelled for 24 hours to get here, but no one and I mean no one complained. The team camaraderie was fantastic, they worked hard, played hard and contributed in every way possible.
I asked them to strip, paint and decorate a classroom in 35 degrees heat with an obscene humidity reading – nothing but laughter, banter and determination. Roll up your sleeves – and indeed they did.
I asked them to quad bike up the side of an active volcano and zip wire back down. Not a squeak of trepidation – only yes please, can we go faster.
I asked them to dance the night away, in amazing places, but to turn up bright eyed for the conference meetings. Everyone did just that.
I assumed that the Finastra team travelled the world, incorporating luxury to amazing places. What I hadn't appreciated was corporate travel was prevalent, but corporate experience a bi-line.
During the week the itinerary included work, challenge, contribution and fun. It bonded, rebooted and inspired, making the team feel good about what they do, who they work with, and why they do it. I remember walking along the beach with a couple of the ladies as we reflected on all the week's activities. "I can't wait to get back to work and implement all we have learnt - I feel rejuvenated and inspired". Job was done I say.
So, thank you Finastra, for your belief in taking the Leap, for your enthusiasm and commitment to our project and ethos. You made me immensely proud of what we do and determined to find more Finastra's out there to support our projects overseas. The power of contribution and adventure is a winning combination.
Until the next time.
on 03 / 12 / 2019