The Global Leadership Program inspired me to pursue opportunities at University I never knew were accessible to me. Despite Covid-19 placing restrictions on all international travel until further notice, over the last few months I have been able to reflect on how my time as a student fellow at the Pollinate Group in India has enabled me to transfer those skills to my university study and career.
I first came across this opportunity by attending the International Women’s Day conference at Macquarie University in 2018. After listening to Alexie Seller talk about her journey with Pollinate Group and her passion for sustainability, I was curious and determined to learn more. Fast forward to 2019, arriving at Bengaluru Airport alone in the South of India was overwhelming at first. However, I was soon reassured when I met other Australian students from around the country who also wanted to be a part of making meaningful change in the world. The Pollinate Group began as a social business which aimed to provide solar lights and fans to urban communities in Bengaluru. Now the business has developed to include other products, however most notably they have included business strategies to increase employment opportunities for women in the community.
The staff at Pollinate Group opened my eyes to a variety of challenges that many social businesses experience. One example is learning how to address the communities needs and engage community members so that the business functions more efficiently. Pollinate Group showed me how important it is to be flexible, as traditional business models do not account for communities that are uprooted often and change locations depending on the availability of work.
I first found it uncomfortable learning a new language and attempting to speak to locals, but I found it helpful to remind myself that we are all here to challenge ourselves. Whether you’re in India or on Macquarie University campus, the GLP helps you realise everyone is always learning new things. I never thought I would jump at an opportunity to learn about social businesses during my degree, especially when my degree is Bachelor of Laws and Arts. However, the opportunity to learn about the various dynamics within a business and the effort it takes to continue to operate was invaluable.
Now you may be asking, but what has this got to do with local opportunities? After this experience, I returned with a renewed interest in joining volunteering opportunities within the local community. The GLP advisors regularly announce new opportunities that are so diverse - there really is something for everyone to get involved and passionate about.
University passes by in a flash, what first seems like a potentially long and challenging five years quickly comes to an end. I’m thankful I stopped at the GLP stand in O-Week because without joining this program I would not have gone to as many conferences, engaged in as many volunteering opportunities or met the amazing people that I have.