As the temperature is dropping by a degree or two in London after a sweltering summer, I am starting to reflect on my priorities at work and life, wondering if these are also shifting.
I am 2 months into my 6 month PULSE assignment. My initial assignment was to determine a European strategy that involved building a cross-sector coalition (business, NGOs, Government, etc). By the time I arrived, the European strategy had evolved, which is not that unsurprising considering it had been about 6 months from when the work had been proposed. Also, my PULSE hosts had initiated discussions to undertake a Strategic Review to decide on priorities for the next 3-5 years. So, suddenly all “new” future activities were put on hold, including Europe work, until October when that review would complete. There was a period of uncertainty for what I could deliver, as the work I was assigned to do was more speculative, and not their bread and butter activities.
I did spend a few weeks wondering whether I would be able to deliver back anything to the organisation for their investment of time in me. I knew that either way, this experience would “change me” and it would be rewarding personally as it was an invaluable opportunity to learn about the NGO sector. However, I couldn’t figure out how the “changing community” aspect of the PULSE assignment would work out.
Over time, by listening and trying to understand what activities were important for the organisation, I have taken on additional responsibilities, that are more closely aligned to their core priorities – such as getting involved in building a strategy for fundraising and advocacy efforts. I have written a couple of proposals for future work that are feeding into leadership team discussions. The organisation also provided me with opportunities to work on their Strategic Review in terms of conducting research on the evolving malaria landscape – which was both educational and interesting for me.
The icing on the cake was when they asked me this week to be the “Lead facilitator” for their Strategic Review workshop on brainstorming ideas for future work. I found it a huge honour that they trusted me to do this important piece of work for them, when they had never seen me do anything like that previously. It also proves that letting people know what your strengths are can prove vital in ensuring the right people pull you in at the right juncture. I also appreciated all the “soft skills” I had gained working at GSK (when we participate in workshops and brown paper exercises)! We don’t appreciate we have these skills, but these are invaluable in the real world – especially our ADP skills.
I now feel I have played a small role in “changing my community”- at the very least I have helped them set their future direction. This new-found confidence has had a positive impact on my outlook on what I can achieve in the coming months. It has also forced me to reflect on how I can “change GSK”. In my mind, that starts with thinking about the kind of role I want to do when I come back to the company. It has also sparked thoughts of changing aspects of my life more fundamentally – e.g. I have got my daughter interested in SDGs, so she can start making a difference in the world much earlier in life. I am also exploring how I can continue my contribution to the community, even after I return to a full-time role. Interesting questions, but I don’t have too many answers at this stage to share with you all.
So, in conclusion, although my priorities at work have changed, it has been a positive “Stretch”. And with another 4 months to go I am looking forward with optimism at the changing seasons. But, what about you, my fellow PULSE10 friends? Have you had any self-doubts? Do you feel optimistic about what you can achieve through PULSE? And to the PULSE alumni reading this who have inspired us with their blogs – what do you feel was your biggest contribution to your community? And how did you continue your PULSE journey once you came back to GSK?