Neomobile recently partnered with Big Beyond, an international non-profit organization, to launch and offer to our colleagues the first sabbatical experience in Uganda. Find out more about this exciting project in our interview with Nick, Big Beyond’s Bigger Picture Manager
Let’s start by introducing yourself and your activities in Big Beyond
“I’m Nick, Big Beyond’s Bigger Picture Manager leading the conservation and development project in Bwindi, southwest Uganda. After my degree I worked for a few companies, always with a big hankering for radical change: a sabbatical in Africa presented itself as one exciting option involving six months volunteering with Big Beyond in Uganda, so I changed my life.
I loved travelling but volunteering enabled me to form a much deeper understanding of the local culture and a stronger bond with the country and its people. Big Beyond’s philosophy and the chance to do something real and a totally different everyday got me hooked, so the decision to take up a permanent position was an easy one.
My overall activities in Big Beyond are to manage our involvement in local conservation and development initiatives. This involves working with volunteers from all over the world and fusing together the invaluable international knowledge, energy and talent individuals bring with local ambition to create sustainable impact in an otherwise quite neglected part of the world.
Working in this environment can definitely push you outside of your comfort zone, there are new problems to solve each day. You have to patiently learn how to adapt and work with people from a culture very different to your own. Immersing in the local community life and going back to basics is a real highlight though and I haven’t looked back since!”
Why would you suggest people join this non-profit association and its projects in Africa?
“It is important that volunteering meets a real need, and finding a meaningful placement is not easy – I’ve been there! What Big Beyond offers is different: this is a bespoke and creative initiative focused around building local capacity through skills and knowledge sharing which offers a meaningful and sustainable way for progress shaped around local needs to happen.
Our Uganda project, supported by Neomobile, is next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and it’s rare mountain gorillas – we are working towards their conservation and empowerment of local communities. The locations are some of the world’s most remote and changeless areas so volunteers have an extraordinary experience – even just getting out to us is quite an adventure.
Neomobile are supporting individual employees to join us in Uganda through sabbatical programmes. In my experience, it’s vital for professional people to push themselves in different environments every once and a while to gain fresh and new perspectives about life, to contribute to a charitable cause and learn about sustainable development and conservation in Africa.”
What kind of benefit and impact does this project usually have on employees first, and on companies in general?
“This is the next generation of global community engagement and the chance to support Africa directly. Being a part of this project offers individuals the chance to grow professionally and personally – to improve themselves by learning a new skill, by having a totally immersive cultural experience. Some people find a new motivation and inspiration, others find it can be life affirming. Everyone finds it rewarding to see progress.
It’s clear that there is a culture of innovation at Neomobile and the chance to integrate talent management with CSR and career development for employees can generate a positive buzz and happy employees within the organisation too.”
What advice would you give to Michela Latini, the first Neomobiler who will travel to Uganda for her sabbatical, before her departure?
“From a project perspective – ask lots of questions. You get out of it what you put into it. It will be an emotional roller coaster at times – physically and emotionally. A great volunteering project is a long-term local investment that has a slow and thoughtful impact so don’t expect to see instant results. Bring an open-mind, flexibility, adaptability, enthusiasm and respect for different cultural values and ways of working.”
Check out also interview with our Michela Latini who will be the first Neomobiler in joining the project. Can’t wait to see her there and tell us about her experience…stay tuned!