TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH
Nine months ago, if someone had told me that I’d be leading the company expansion of Leadapreneur, a well-established business specialised in leadership & innovation to Cambodia - I would have not believed it.
When I had been presented by Jess & Jan, the cofounders of Leadapreneur, with the opportunity to lead the country expansion of the company to Cambodia I had been about to engage in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course where I would have no access to internet and no contact with the external world. Basically I was about to be cut out from any source of information that would allow me to do some research and come to a rational, backed-up-by-evidence decision. So I had no other option but to literally “meditate on it” and see what would come up.
How did I feel about this big move? Professionally? Personally? What did I know about Cambodia? Its culture, its society, its language? Did I feel like I knew enough to make a decision? Would I succeed in creating a new life in a place I knew close to nothing about?
Incredibly enough, as I sat meditating for 10 hours a day over the course of 10 days (yes, really), I felt really good about this. I knew this was in line with my dream to live in Southeast Asia, just as much as it was in line with my professional ambition to be an entrepreneur one day and create something truly awesome, something I believed in. Nine months beforehand I had been a bit unclear (some would say I was 'lost') as to what exactly that would be, but I knew it would have something to do with youth empowerment, leadership and education.
LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN
As time went by and as I started working with Jess & Jan in Malaysia (read my internship story with the cofounders here), things started falling into place and I started gaining more and more clarity as to what I wanted to create and what value I wanted to add. It pretty much came down to the realisation that the current value proposition of the education system is failing our generation: we study on average between 4 and 5 years, graduate in debt and have no guarantee of finding a job, no matter how many diplomas we can show for ourselves, no matter how prestigious the university we went to. So what do we do? We start offering ourselves as free labour through various internships that are supposed to build credibility in our CV, just to see that everyone else is doing the same and we are one of the many again, struggling to find our true competitive edge. Anxious to find work (that pays) we go for what will provide us with either income or prestige, without necessarily pursuing a career that truly makes our hearts sing.
Been there, done that. By age 26 I refused to work for free anymore and I refused to do something that didn’t have any meaning to me. I wanted my heart to sing so loud I would make myself and the world go deaf (probably as a direct result of how out-of-tune the singing would be, but that’s another matter). I wanted to do something I was truly passionate about and not mildly interested in.
So there I was, having made my mind up that 'YES' - I am willing to commit two years of my life to build up the Leadapreneur Academy from nothing in a developing country I had only been to as a carefree backpacker, admiring the temples of Angkor Wat. And as crazy as it sounds, on that bus ride that took me from Bangkok to Siem Reap, I had been discussing with my bestie Lottie about how I would love to take my work in AIESEC to the next level and truly bring a behaviour change in young people. Fast forward 5 years and here I am, back in Cambodia, pretty much delivering on my promise. The circle is complete.
So here I am now. Let the adventure begin!