An Investor´s Perspective on BOOKBRIDGE

Curdin with children and youth in front of the learning center in Chansom Senmongkul.
Curdin (middle) with children and youth in front of the learning center in Chansom Senmongkul.

Our new learning center in Tonloab, Cambodia has been financed with the support from UBS and its employees in Switzerland. Curdin Duschletta is Managing Director and Head of Community Affairs & Foundations with UBS in Switzerland and has not only been involved with the bank´s investment but has also volunteered at one of our learning centers in Cambodia. We have talked to Curdin about his impressions and UBS´ motivation to invest in the learning center.

Curdin, why did UBS invest in BOOKBRIDGE?
Every year our employee donation program for UBS in Switzerland selects ten projects and organizations which can then be supported by our staff. UBS matches the donations. These projects are focused on education and entrepreneurship as well as on environmental or societal issues, both within Switzerland as well as abroad. What we particularly liked about BOOKBRIDGE is the creative and very business-minded approach to foster education and entrepreneurship and thus bring sustainable change and perspectives to some of the poorer countries in the world.

Curdin, you have worked at our learning center in Chansom Senmongkul in March – what was your motivation to go there?
I was privileged to have a two-month sabbatical in between two jobs at UBS. As a part of this I planned to go back to Asia where I had been living and working a couple of years ago. Having travelled in south-east Asia before, I was looking for a possibility to getting involved there in a meaningful endeavor. My new role at UBS includes the responsibility for our bank’s employee donation program. Looking through the list of projects for the current year I saw a short note about BOOKBRIDGE in Cambodia…

Having spent most of my career in corporate learning and being a big believer in education (and a former scout) the project immediately attracted my attention – and I reached out to Carsten and Sokhan. A few weeks later I was sorting books with the learning center´s fellow Olivier and his grandparents, teaching English classes, spending time with the learning center heads, teachers and children. And eating loads of ripe mangos at the wonderful Meas Family Homestay.

You then also got involved with the capability program team and the setup of the new center in Tonloab. What were your impressions of the program, the participants, the processes?
It was amazing to see how BOOKBRIDGE´s ambition to really build bridges and create unique learning experiences for leaders in Europe while bringing meaningful change and education to the rural south of Cambodia materialized. After just one week on the ground I had the pleasure to attend an “investor pitch” from the capability building team via Skype. I was impressed by the quality of both the business case and the presentation. Even more striking was the level of engagement and passion from everyone involved. I clearly got the feeling that our employee’s and our bank’s investment is in good hands – and will generate impressive returns.

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