Diego Horcajada, November 2017
Without me knowing it, this journey actually started five years ago. At the time I was not aware that my curiosity and non-conformism would bring me to where I am today, leaving what many might consider a successful career and a safe job in a respectful company.
Five years ago my daughter was born. Three weeks after I found myself in a hotel room, 7000km away from my wife and our baby, preparing THE business meeting of the year. I will never forget how sad I felt being far from them at that important moment in our life. All because I had to build and present the next year’s operational master plan to the Latin America senior management.
At this moment I started wondering about the following questions:
- What is the reason for which we need to sacrifice positive moments family and friends?
- What is the purpose of all these intellectual and physical investments?
- Are any of those helping me to be a better person?
- Are they contributing to a better world?
Life continues and of course I was soon back home with my little family, enjoying a pleasant life and the benefits of a corporate expat. Eventually those questions came back to my mind, but life was pleasant and questions flow away. Time kept passing, and so did the questions, accompanied with new ones, such us: Why do I choose to feed my family with non-processed food if I’m working in the largest packaged food company? What gives me the right to earn 5 times what my blue-collar colleagues working in the production lines or in the logistics centers do?
But I said to myself that I really liked my job. I truly enjoyed supporting others to do a better job, improving processes and solving complex problems, beating the competition, improving customer service levels and reducing operating cost to finally generate “profitable growth”.
Two years later I came back to my home market, which happens to host the company headquarters. What a great opportunity to do what I like to do at much bigger scale!!!
What happened during the next three years was eye opening to me. Very rapidly I realized that the greatest barrier a group of people face in order to define and achieve common goals is fear: fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear to challenge their own beliefs and fear to think differently. With time I discovered as well I was not the only one troubled with these fundamental questions. The more I looked around, the greater my realization that many of my colleagues and friends were perhaps also facing an issue of unsustainable balance between their personal and professional values.
So my curious and non-conformist personality pushed me to look for answers. I watched many documentaries (oh yes, I got addicted to this during my childhood, watching Felix Rodriguez de la Fuente, David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau in TVE2), I read papers from many different sources and alternative media, I explored scientific and scholarly publications… and I started to realise that perhaps I’ve been blinded, blinded by unwritten social expectations and a biased definition of success. I came to understand as well that this blindness was actually numbing my capacity to feel pain when thinking about the many things that go very wrong in our civilization: poverty, hunger, economic inequalities (among and within states), environmental and social health degradation.
Now I feel the pain, and I feel ashamed of my blindness, but most of all I feel a profound and energising drive when I think we have the means to redirect the course of our absolutely unsustainable development. In fact, the only barrier preventing us to make things right is fear.
So here I am today, with no job (in traditional terms) and no fear (at least most days) starting a Diploma on Sustainable Business with the University of St Gallen, looking forward to discover and practice the tools that can help me unlock business and social leverages to address the threatening challenges our society faces.
I intend to post about my learning from the program, my personal reflections and the experience of becoming a student at the age of 44.
I hope you will keep coming back to my blog, contributing with your constructive comments and ideas.
Many thanks for your interest.