Eva participated in our 10th Capability Program to Mongolia. In her impact story, she shares what she learnt about high performing teams and how she discovered her purpose in the field of mental health and well-being. Eva advocates for healthy work environments. Related to that, it is important to Eva that information is shared openly and transparently with everyone.
Eva, please share with us three important facts that people should know about you.
I love adventures. My playground is the forest behind my house where I do sports and often get home covered in mud from head to toe.
I am grateful for everything life has put in front of my feet, including my experience with BOOKBRIDGE.
I have never cooked a tofu burger but I invited Carsten to my home to enjoy it with me. Anyone who can help with a recipe, please reach out to me.
Why did you decide to participate in the Capability Program?
In 2016, the “future of work“ became more and more important for my employer Swiss Re. Agility became en vogue and I was intrigued. The Capability Program was a chance to experience a team of 12 alpha animals working together without a dedicated leader. In addition, the program was positioned in a way that you could only apply with prior social engagements. And you had to apply and compete for the spot. This is what made the program attractive to me.
What did you learn in the program?
We do not need a boss and a team is basically capable of achieving anything if everyone leaves his or her ego at home. We worked in an agile working environment as a team of 12. We bonded by sharing about personal whys. We connected to our mission which has helped to support social entrepreneur Buyanaa to grow her learning centre in Khovd, Mongolia. We developed a shared vision and plan and divided tasks ensuring that people can work to their strengths and have ample learning opportunities.
"I believe that you cannot live up to your full potential if you do not believe in what you do." Eva
What does purpose-driven leadership mean to you?
I believe that you cannot live up to your full potential if you do not believe in what you do. Following your purpose frees up untapped energy reserves within yourself.
As a leader, you need to ensure that the purpose of your people is aligned with the purpose of the mission. You need to empathize with your team to find out what they are burning for. Through BOOKBRIDGE, we experienced how fireplace talks are a great way to learn about each other.
What impact has BOOKBRIDGE had on your private and professional life?
After participating in the BOOKBRIDGE Capability Program, I started to engage in mental health with Pathways, Swiss Re's mental health network. It was initially a grassroots initiative started in the UK. I joined the core team and supported Pathways to go global and grow the number of Mental Health champions to 500+. This has been an exciting challenge.
During the pandemic, everyone suddenly worked from home. People were concerned about their health and that of their loved ones. Among many other things, they struggled with isolation, home schooling and grief. Only last year, this got compounded with the start of the war on Ukraine. Well-being became a very important topic at my employer Swiss Re and one that would make a huge difference to current and future employees. Well-being became a strategic priority and Swiss Re offered me to focus 100% on the topic. Since then, I have been able to develop and implement the personal resilience strategy. One thing that we discovered was that well-being was not only a benefits or policy play but that it was rooted very much in the working culture and leadership experience. We encouraged people change unhealthy behaviour and advocated that it's ok to take a break, to set boundaries and get comfortable with saying no. People should not feel guilty for not being online for 24 hours. In May 2022, I changed my job title into “Head Personal Resilience”.
I became less tolerant towards people who work exclusively for themselves rather than following an inclusive approach. In case things are not shared openly and transparently, I am out. Thanks to BOOKBRIDGE, I became less wiling to compromise about my future career. It has been a slow process over the past five years which led to clarity about what matters to me. At the moment I am taking a break from work, a prime opportunity to carefully choose my next steps.
What did you learn from your social entrepreneur?
I admire Buyanaa's amazing width of breath. She has never lost the focus on our vision although there have been many invitations to do so. Her initial success made her hire assistant teachers, with the pandemic she had to scale back and even close the learning centre, now she has reopened and keeps being profitable. I am grateful for the shared journey where we were able to co-create with her during the six months of the program. I truly believe that we benefitted as much from her example as she from our work.
"I want to further dedicate my time towards more healthy work environments." Eva
One last question, what is your commitment towards a world of purpose-driven leaders?
Mental health and well-being are close to my heart. I want to further dedicate my time towards more healthy work environments. In my view, people should be able to request this from their employers without any bad feelings. If you think of the cost implications of poor mental health to an organisation and the benefits of being recognised as a caring employer, the business case is clear. Even the most number-driven people will understand this.
Thank you Eva for sharing your impact story with us. We keep fingers crossed for the next step in your life.