Updated: Feb 18
Eleanor took part in our 9th Capability Program. Co-creating a learning center in Cambodia, she learnt how to implement projects with little ressources and how to get things done without overplanning them. An interview.
Eleanor (left) with Ravy Vang in front of Ravy's social enterprise in Chreav, Cambodia.
Eleanor, share with us 3 important facts that people should know about you.
I am bilingual in English and Basler Dütsch (Swiss German) :)
10 years after my first degree in psychology, I decided to go back to university to study business administration in the public and non-profit sector.
I am a very active person. I don´t feel good when I don´t have anything to do.
Why did you participate in the Capability Program? What was your motivation?
I was actually nominated for the program by my supervisor at Swisscom. I wanted to learn something new. I did one professional training in the field of „banking for non-bankers“ but I also wanted to do something for my personal development. The nomination for the Capability Program fit my personal values. It was applied rather than theoretical and was not a “normal” leadership development program.
I liked the program from the first moment on because it was something outside of the usual employer initiatives. Before deciding to join, I heard of the BOOKBRIDGE Program from my colleague Thomas Stüssi who had participated before and was very positive about it.
Which highlight or moment in the program do you remember?
There were actually two moments, both of them during the program module in Cambodia.
The first moment was getting to know the Cambodian mindset about getting things done. It was very simple: if you want to get something done, you´ll get it done, no matter how little resources and time you have.
I was impressed by the Cambodians accomplishing projects with little time, little resources, simple surroundings and almost no tools and trying to get the best out of it. There was always this belief and confidence that things would work out in the end.
The second one was the opening ceremony. I remember our social entrepreneur Ravy being very nervous and tense. After the opening he was suddenly relaxed and so happy. He just didn´t stop to dance! This was a very emotional moment for me.
Ravy (center) and Eleanor (right with black shirt) during the opening ceremony.
Which impact did BOOKBRIDGE have on your professional life?
It had a big impact on my life because after the program I quit my job. Almost immediately after finishing the program, I decided to stop working at Swisscom. BOOKBRIDGE helped me make this decision as I had had the chance to stand back a little from my normal life, see different things and experience new cultures.
I decided to go back to study. I had been thinking about studying business for a while. But thanks to BOOKBRIDGE, I also knew I wanted to do something that fit better with my values of making an impact. That´s why I chose this master with a focus on public and non-profit management.
At work, I feel more comfortable interacting with all sorts of different people after the program. I find it easier to work with different characters, perspectives and ideas that people have.
Eleanor visits public institutions to learn more about management in the non-profit and public sector.
... and on your private life?
For me, values such as integrity and impactfulness, making a difference to people are very important. I want to help develop society by impacting the way people interact with each other.
That´s also how I perceive BOOKBRIDGE. And in BOOKBRIDGE there is also the fun part that I like a lot: having fun together while doing great things.
Since the end of the program I apply the Cambodian mindset more when making decisions: just do it, don´t overthink things so much, don´t worry so much, don´t plan too much.
I also realized that we use our Western patterns too often. It is never good to make too many assumptions. When being in Cambodia, I had to ask many questions about how people think and work. It soon turned out that we would often apply our Western pattern of thinking and make assumptions about the Cambodians and how things work.
I learned to approach new situations without prejudice and judgement. The moment you break out of your thinking patterns gives life to something truly new.