This November we sat down with Ivey Alumna, Janet Lambert, to hear about her favorite memories from her LEADER volunteer experience. Janet travelled with us to Nepal earlier this year.
Please tell us about yourself! Sure! I am the national director of Leadership Giving for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada - a health charity that is looking to further find the causes and cures for Crohn’s and Colitis. My background has spanned the private sector, trade associations, charitable organizations in Canada and the US, and I originally started off in the pharmaceutical industry. I have also worked for an organization called CESO – Canadian Executive Services Organization, which sends retired executive volunteers around the world, to help support capacity building and economic development.
How did you first hear about LEADER, and what made you want to get involved? I originally heard about LEADER in the alumni InTouch magazine. I’ve always wanted to give back and support and volunteer wherever I can, so when I found out about the LEADER experience I thought it sounded absolutely fantastic – immediately I thought ‘I’d love to do something like this’.
Where did you travel on your trip with LEADER, and what was that experience like? We were based in Kathmandu, Nepal, and it was a life changing experience. Seeing the beauty of the Himalayas in the background of every view was absolutely breathtaking. Every day we had the opportunity to tour around before the afternoon teaching sessions, so we has we our mornings to go out and explore the city and experience the local culture. Our hosts were incredibly gracious! They would tour us around with their family, and show us Nepal from an insider’s perspectives, something that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. That being said, the highlight and what stuck with me the most after the trip was definitely coaching and teaching the local entrepreneurs.
How do you feel your LEADER experience differed coming in as an Alumna? I had the great opportunity to work with four other LEADERites, two HBAs and two MBAs. My role was to provide the experience and real world examples, while the younger team members provided the concepts and understanding, and the latest way to approach entrepreneurism, so it was a really nice mix. The highlight for me was getting to know these young, bright, future leaders of our society - we lived together, we toured together, we ate together, and we taught together, for two weeks. I got to learn about what the younger generation values and how they think.
We connected on such a personal level, and really spilled off each other in the classroom, focused on giving the best experience to the entrepreneurs. As well, from teaching young entrepreneurs in a less developed country, you get to see the light that they have and the intensity with which they want to learn. I can’t express how fulfilling it was to impart our knowledge and experience, and see the meaningful impact we were having on their future.
Was there any particular story or experience that you would like to share with others considering joining as an alumna? In the classroom we were talking about cashflow, and the crisis of growth. We were speaking about it from an educational standpoint, but I was able to share one of my experiences in a smaller organization, and how we ran up against these exact issues. In that moment I remember hearing my finance professor Jim Hatch speaking in the back of my head as I was going through it! The entrepreneurs in the room were drawn in, hearing this first hand recount of a real life scenario in which the learnings can be applied. It is incredible what the presence and experience of an alumna adds to trips like these.
What would you say was your biggest takeway from the trip? Oh there’s tons of them, it’ll be hard to pick just one! One standout was the informal interactions that we had during the breaks with the entrepreneurs, and the one on ones after class ended with entrepreneurs who were interested in getting focused advice on their businesses. The mutual learning, and problem solving was absolutely invigorating.
When you’re facing a problem and you have someone listening, providing advice, and you’re going back and forth in an iterative process, a third way comes up - I think that’s something invaluable that we were able facilitate. For some of these entrepreneurs that were getting blocked with their business, we were able to go beyond the learning and the sessions of the day, and truly helped them. You could see lights going off in their eyes, and they would say ‘Okay, I gotta try that!’ or ‘I haven’t about that aspect'. Those moments are truly memorable.
Was there anything during your time there that surprised you? I was surprised at how close I had got to the MBAs and HBAs and just how much Kathmandu and the people there captured my heart. I can’t wait to go back!
What would you say to other Ivey alumni that are considering joining a trip with LEADER? You have so much more to give back than you think. This will be a different type of experience. This is really living with the local folks in the local way. Travel does broaden you, but this type of travel is unique. The hosts are incredibly supportive, and you have the MBAs and HBAs from back home with which you’re all together in this. What you learn and what you get will be life changing.
We are always looking for Ivey Alumni to join us in our journeys. If you’d like to travel, volunteer, and leave an impact with the LEADER Project, we’d love to hear from you! Please reach out to us here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.