Ivo Haase, current participant from EADA’s LeadTech Global Executive MBA -a joint programme with École des Ponts Business School- has been distinguished with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, which awards people who stand out for their achievements in the political, economic, cultural, intellectual or voluntary work areas. In this case,the Federal Republic of Germany has recognized Ivo’s 25 years of voluntary work and voluntary service on a local, national and international level.
In the following interview we talk to him about how to collaborate in voluntary works and how to become changemakers and leaders with a purpose. We also ask him about his great experience undertaking the programme at EADA and what learnings may he implement in his role as a volunteer and entrepreneur.
Why do you think you deserve this award?
This is the result of 25 years of voluntary work and voluntary service on a local, national and international level. I’m happy that many organisations contributed to this proposal and said, “Yes, Ivo should receive this award” and it makes me feel really proud.
Can you summarise all the social projects that you have worked on?
There are projects in so many different areas. I was voluntarily active in local politics so for ten years I was in the town and regional parliament. Then as a management trainer, I worked for an NGO in Germany, but also abroad in Lebanon, Iran and Syria where I went to train other NGO members. But my favourite project is the one in which we provide school materials for children in need in my city when parents cannot afford to buy them a school bag or school materials. For over 13 years, we have been providing them with materials and school bags. During the big refugee wave of arrivals in 2015 in Germany, we were able to give school bags and materials to the hundreds of child refugees that came to our region. And I was really proud that we could do that. Since then, we have raised more than €150,000 in funds to finance this project every year.
When did you start working on this kind of projects?
It was while I was doing my civil service when I was 20. I worked in a school for disabled children and I saw that some things were missing so I thought, how do I get these things so that the children are more comfortable? And then my dad said to me, “You need to get the funds somewhere. You will not get them from me, so find a way”. And then he gave me some ideas and I started to ask local companies to do charity projects to raise funds.
What is the main thing that you have learned during these years working in different places and countries and projects?
It’s a very interesting question because I was thinking about this recently and the main thing I have learned is that before starting this I was limiting myself. I thought things were impossible but there were people who saw more in myself than I did and today I treat people
the other way around so I always try to see more in the people I work with than they see in themselves and that makes them grow, in the same way as I had the chance to grow. And that was maybe the bridge to here, to EADA and the Global Executive MBA programme. I have the feeling that our professors also see way more in us as students than we see in ourselves.
What can you apply from this social environment to the business world?
All the things that you learn in a social environment, you can immediately apply in the business world. And it’s especially about the things that you learn in leadership because most of the projects I have done, I couldn’t have done them alone. I always needed to convince other people to do these projects with me, together, and this is something I’m benefiting from in the business world. And also here now, at EADA and École des Ponts Business School, it’s always about getting other people involved and getting them to follow a goal together
What kind of business advice would you give to someone who wants to become a changemaker nowadays?
It’s to find a clear “why” first for yourself and then also to communicate it to others to join you. Then don’t do it alone. Look for friends, look for a team, look for people who have different strengths than you so that you can be better in a team. Then just start and learn from whatever works well and also learn from what maybe doesn’t work too well at the beginning. Never give up and also don’t forget to be proud of what you achieve from time to time, especially when you can do it together with your team.
What does it mean for you being a leader with a purpose?
In my opinion, it means that you do something for a reason, and not only for yourself, but for society, for the world that you are living in, and to be part of a change process. There isn’t a single person on this planet that doesn’t want to be a little bit part of this change process and wants to contribute to a world he or she wants to live in. And this is being a leader with a purpose. It’s not so much about your title, it’s not so much about your position. It’s more about the fact that you believe that you can change small things that will add up to a very big change when more people join your initiative and your movement.
Should we be talking about a new business paradigm?
Yes, I’m totally sure that we have to talk about this because the people that are joining the companies expect a different kind of leadership and diversity. They’re expecting a focus on sustainable development goals and especially the diversity approach. They’re expecting acceptance: acceptance of the individual approach of each person, but also acceptance of the importance of the environment we live in.
Let’s talk about the joint-programme EADA and École des Ponts Business School ‘s Global Executive MBA that you are undertaking right now. How do you feel about undertaking this unique programme?
I’m very happy about the decision to take the GEMBA. The professors focus a lot on us and take a very individual approach for each of the students. I have to admit I’m very happy with my cohort. It’s not only that I have met fellow colleagues, I see more and more that they are becoming friends. It’s so cool to be challenged in each module. I don’t know how I can do all the pre and post work, but in the end I get it done because of the support from others as well as the professors.
Why did you decide to undertake this programme?
It took me some time. I did some research about which university is the best for me because it’s not only about the investment from the financial side but more about the investment of time and energy. And this programme immediately looked like a perfect fit. My first meeting at EADA took place with Laetitia Rella, who is the Associate Director of Admissions of the International Degree Programmes at EADA, and she did great. I liked the international approach, what EADA stands for, its values. I came here to Barcelona to visit the business school and instantly I knew this was the right place for me. And I applied and waited for the response to find out if EADA would accept me and I’m really happy and grateful that EADA said I was a perfect fit too.
Is there anything you have learned from the last three modules of your programme that has made you look at something from a different perspective?
I have learned a lot from Dr. Saman Sarbazvatan, COO, Vice Dean and Professor of technology, innovation, circular economy and competitiveness from École des Ponts Business School. Another professor who inspired me a lot was Jatinder J. Singh. Associate Professor of Marketing at EADA. He gave us an amazing session on business ethics. We had a tough discussion in our cohort about what is the right thing to do – is it only to look at the finance or do we have responsibilities in other areas too. Also, I have learned so much about finance in 1.5 days and the learning was fun. I wasn’t expecting this about finance. We could make a whole movie about all the things I have learned and it’s only the third module. So, I’m really curious to find out about the next modules not only because they will take place in Singapore and San Francisco but also because I will get to meet new professors and I’m really looking forward to this a lot.
Where do you see yourself when you finish the programme at the end of the year?
I’m running a family business so I want to implement a lot of these ideas there and I want to share these ideas in my own trainings, not only in Germany but also abroad. Apart from this, I will keep on running the training for the NGO I’m working for and I will share many of the ideas I got here. I’m quite sure the professors will be happy that they will have an impact not only themselves but also with the students who are leaving now and are sharing their ideas and thoughts.