While I was checking my email last January after I came from a Bloomberg Conference in the City of London, I received a message from the World Economic Forum. I was surprised to have found out that I was chosen to become a Young Global Leader (YGL) 2012 by the Selection Committee chaired by Queen Rania of Jordan, after they have carefully screened the profiles of thousands of young leaders from every region of the world and from a myriad of disciplines and sectors. We were told to keep everything confidential until the official announcement on March 6. I didn’t know who to talk to at the beginning so I just spoke to my family and a couple of friends who I can trust the information with.
I was taken a back to learn that I became a YGL because I was pondering on what to do with my life after I finish my MBA and I was asking myself if I should continue working for the creative industries or move on to finance. I was just talking to a derivatives trader with a fellow MBA student Natalia Skachkova and he advised us that if we plan to pursue finance we should just stay there for 5 years and get out before we become enslaved by the system. Funny enough, when the World Economic Forum emailed me, that was also the week when all the movers and shakers of the world were converging in Davos, Switzerland to discuss global issues specifically the financial crisis besetting Europe. Prior to my MBA, I was a consultant of the CICT tasked to help draft the Philippine Digital Creative Content Development programme which was intended to expand our creative economy by putting up incubation laboratories, IP Fund, bring experts from abroad, etc. but unfortunately it was shelved due to politics and I was discouraged to continue working for this worthy cause as I saw that it was an uphill battle to continue to get support for it. Then suddenly, like sign from above, I get a jolt in the form of becoming a YGL which gave me an added credibility to help my cause with our government and the private sector as well. This was also my platform when I was applying to become a Chevening Scholar and to study at the University of Westminster – to champion the creative industries in my country since the UK is at the forefront of the Global Creative Economy.
Prior to becoming a YGL, I had a difficulty networking with people as I come from a developing country and I had to compete with other students in order to be connected with the right people in my industry. Having a Chevening Scholarship already gave me an edge but becoming a YGL gave me that extra boost. This opportunity has opened a lot of doors for me. I now have access to a very powerful network of amazing people who are doing different things that will change the world. There are around 900+ Young Global Leaders from 80 different countries since its inception in 2005 and many more coming every year. This is a 5-year engagement wherein we get to be invited to attend all the conferences, educational modules, and events being organized by the forum. Moreover, I have access to a private forum in their website where I can get the contact of all the people participating in the world economic forum from world leaders to top business people. The World Economic Forum assigns you with a YGL mentor, and luckily for me, Mark Read, CEO of WPP Digital, which is part of WPP group, the largest communications company in the world, was the one assigned to me who will guide me in my journey as a YGL.
With the support of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I was able to travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to attend the Annual Summit of the Young Global Leaders along with the World Economic Forum on Latin America last April 14-18, 2012. I flew to Mexico and had the most amazing 5 days of my life where I met people who are making a mark in this world with the different projects that they do. The Annual Summit of the Young Global Leaders is different from the regional and annual forum of the World Economic Forum in the sense that it is more intimate and more casual. You get to know the person better and you get to party with them in an informal way unlike the Forums which are more formal and typically very business like where you trade business cards and you move to meet another person that you need to network with. In the summit, there was a YGL Insights segment where several chosen YGL spoke about their projects/causes similar to TED talks. Marissa Mayer of Google discussed the story of Google Doodles where they changed the logo of Google honouring different people and periods of history which goes against the marketing dictum to not tamper with the company logo. Lucian Tarnowski, a YGL from the UK discussed about Capitalism to Talentism, how finding talent is very important. Paralyzed Christian Wenk, discussed his experienced of overcoming adversity after his cycling accident left him in a wheelchair when previously he was a triathlete. Moreover, they taught us how to protect the asset, how to take care of ourselves being leaders, and how to say no. It was an intense leadership module with the best and brightest and you are immersed with experienced and influential leaders.
There were many highlights of my trip which we call “Davos Moments” at the YGL Annual Summit. One of them was when I had the chance to chat briefly with Mexican President Felipe Calderon about Boxing as both Philippines and Mexico love this sport. That was when he spoke with the YGLs privately as he was previously a YGL in the predecessor programme of the World Economic Forum. Another one, was when I was assigned to a breakfast table group which includes two giants of the internet industry – Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Marissa Mayer, VP of Google who was in-charge of search and now maps. I didn’t know who they were until we all introduced ourselves.It was a very interesting discussion as we were sharing our pain points, our experiences and how we can cope with them and move forward. I even thanked Marissa for Google maps had it not for it I would always get lost in London. And she mentioned that there is even a study that says that the hypothalamus of a London Taxi Cab driver is bigger than an ordinary human because he knows how to go around the city. Furthermore, I participated in one of the YGL Initiatives called Global Dignity which was spearheaded by the Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. We went to a Mexican High School were we taught the idea of Dignity to students and how do we spread this idea. Fortunately for me, the room that I was assigned to was where the Crown Prince went, so along with another Fellow YGL from Italy, I worked with HRH in discussing Dignity with the students and he even gave his card to me afterwards and invited me to become the Global Dignity Country Chair of the Philippines and I humbly accepted his offer to be part of his foundation.
The best realization I learned in attending the Annual Summit of the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum is that the world is equal and people are the same every where no matter what your position in life is. Only at the World Economic Forum you’ll have the chance to socialize and party with the top CEOs, a Crown Prince, a President, and the best and the brightest people from different fields and you learn how so much a like we are as human beings having the same problems, insecurities, and aspirations in making the world a much better place.
Benedict Carandang is a Chevening Scholar pursuing his MBA at the University of Westminster. He was selected and honoured as a Young Global Leader 2012 by the World Economic Forum for his work in championing the creative industries in the Philippines. He was previously an Entrepreneurship Consultant of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines where he helped draft the Philippine Digital Creative Content Development Programme which was intended to be the road map of the country in this sector.
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