My personal why is grounded in a deep appreciation of the opportunities and good fortune I’ve experienced in my own life. I had a safe, secure upbringing, followed by an affordable education and a move into the working world when times were good and there were plenty of opportunities.
In contrast, there are many people in my native Switzerland who simply haven’t had access to these opportunities, either because of their background or they’ve been derailed along the way by personal circumstances or one of life’s many curveballs.Being a citizen of one of the richest countries in the world, but not having access to basic nutrition and education is a terrible situation to be in. And so it is quality of life – or rather lack of quality of life – that is very much my personal why.
Giving something back to society is extremely important to me, and Elanco enables its employees to spend two and a half days a year to pursue their own why.
I was part of a group here in Basel who started Hunger Cause initiatives, which created regular volunteering opportunities for Basel site employees. We identified local charities engaged in collecting food with a short shelf life.
Each quarter we spend half a day (a full day in the third quarter) with these charities helping to collect, re-pack and stack food which is then distributed to people in need.
During the last volunteering activity in June, I had the opportunity to travel with a food collection team here in Basel. We collected products with a short expiry date from some 40 donors, made up of big food retailers and supermarkets but also small businesses such as bakeries and butcheries.
We re-distributed the food the same day to refugee homes, organisations that provide meals to people who receive welfare, shelters for homeless people, assisted living residences or care centers for substance abuse.
I’m always surprised at how much of this food is of impeccable quality, especially the fresh products such as fruit, salad or vegetables. When we think that every Swiss throws away an average 94kg of food every year1, there’s another very good reason to redistribute food that would otherwise go to waste.
I also realised the impact this kind of initiative can have on the overall health on hundreds of people in the area in helping ensure they had a balanced, cooked meal.
To come back to my personal why, my work needs to give me a chance to purse the opportunities to contribute to others’ quality of life – which helps me with my own.
1. Almeida 2011, FAO 2011.