“It helped me to see the world from a whole new perspective”

After his experiences at BOOKBRIDGE Olivier (left) with others founded the social startup AtlasRun
After his experiences at BOOKBRIDGE Olivier (left) with others founded the social startup AtlasRun
Which impact does BOOKBRIDGE create? Olivier Kaeser was BOOKBRIDGE fellow in Cambodia and later attended our Capability Program. Coming from SwissRe he has started his own social enterprise in Cambodia and a start-up in San Francisco. In this interview and video Olivier talks about the impact BOOKBRIDGE has had on his professional and private life.

Who are you?
At the moment, I’m the co founder of a impact driven start up in San Francisco. Before, I was lucky enough to be part of the build up of Swiss Re’s CSR program for many years while doing some other fun and not so fun things besides, like Military service (not so fun) or my Civilian Service with BOOKBRIDGE (fun). I’m a big believer in a collaborative, compassionate and empathetic world where we channel our natural instinct to fight and kill each other towards a sustainable form of capitalism and sports competitions like the FIFA World Cup 🙂 .

How did you get involved with BOOKBRIDGE?
I originally was selected for a Swiss Civilian Service assignment in Cambodia to manage the start up and transition phase of the Ang Tasom Learning Centre and then decided to join the Capability Program to become a more active part in the set up of the Learning Center. So I first was of the Ang Tasom Capability Program team and then stayed in Cambodia for another 5 months as a Fellow after the opening ceremony of the Learning Center

Which 3 words describe BOOKBRIDGE best for you?
Innovative, transforming, impactful.

What are your personal and professional learnings from the fellowship program?
From a professional perspective, it was great to work in an intercultural team that commits to the same goal. The different personalities and cultures made me realize that there are various ways and perspectives about how to move from point A to point B (and that a “detour” to point C during the process can be fun, enriching and a good learning too). The Capability Program covered many aspects of a “traditional” leadership development program while multiplication the learning experience with feasible impact in Cambodia. From a personal perspective, it was an overwhelming experience. I learned so much on so many levels during these 5 months, it is hard to put it in words. It helped me to see the world from a whole new perspective.

How do you transfer these learnings into your daily life?
Thanks to BOOKBRIDGE and Paul from Sonas, I learned a lot about Social Entrepreneurship when I was I Cambodia and I therefore decided to do a Masters Program in this particular field. At the moment, I’m working in the startup Atlasrun in San Francisco which is exciting and I also still have strong ties with the family I lived with in Cambodia. We’re cultivating Mangos together with the idea to produce local jams and chutneys and I just have visited parts of the family that live in Cleveland, Ohio. Yet again, to live in a developing country for 5 months changes your perspective on so many things so the transfer of these learnings into daily life comes pretty “automatic”.

Watch Olivier’s video:

Watch more impact videos on our impact wall.

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