A Friday in August I found myself heading to the office of Betty McCormack, our North America HR managing director, thinking of possible reasons why we were meeting. I took my seat, looked at Betty, and she asked me if I had heard of One Young World. Prepared to answer my puzzled expression, Betty cued the highlights from the 2016 event, which was held in Ottawa, Canada. As an immigrant from Colombia, I was filled with joy upon seeing that the 2017 event would be in Bogotá. I imagined Accenture was partnering and Betty was just sharing the news before the real meeting started. Instead, she said I would be going as part of the Accenture delegation. I asked her to repeat it so I was sure I understood what she was saying. I was going to One Young World in Bogotá!
Fast forward to October 4; I was making my way to the Agora Convention Center to register. As hundreds of delegates walked around, I could feel the excitement. I made my way to the exhibition area to check out the Accenture stage and stations. From that moment until the closing ceremony I made so many great connections, listened to incredible stories, learned about great initiatives, and recognized that everyone can make an impact. After four amazing days at the event, the word inspiring does not seem enough to describe the experience.
I wish I could describe in detail all the moments that were special, but I’ll highlight three. First, the Accenture experience. When I started meeting the Accenture delegates and ground team, I felt so happy to be part of Accenture. The Inclusion Starts with I (ISWI) event was awesome. Being able to join Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership and human resources officer on stage as a team and seeing the audience members join in with their own ISWI commitments put the biggest smile on my face. We kicked off the topic of inclusion in a powerful way. ISWI reminds me that we each should take responsibility for helping everyone feel like they belong.
Accenture’s Grace Lin, Marina Nava, Ellyn Shook, Zak Smith, Luisa Marin and Yvonne Martinez at the 2017 One Young World Summit, Bogotá, Colombia
The plenary sessions consisted of delegates and counselors discussing corruption, purpose, education, philanthropy and peace and reconciliation. The second highlight for me was the entire plenary session on corruption. The delegates at a young age had demonstrated an incredible amount of courage by seeing something they knew was wrong and then taking corrective action. They risked their lives and continue to do so to create a better world.
My third highlight occurred during the peace and reconciliation segment. Many of the stories were heart wrenching, but Hyppolite Ntigurirwa’s account of the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath really stuck with me. He survived, but lost so much. Now, he helps others through reconciliation.
All the sessions had inspiring stories of perseverance, forgiveness, and they sent the message that you could be the change. Kofi Annan told us that despite what was occurring, we must not lose hope. If there is something to take away from the conference it is that we can and should all do something to improve our world. No matter how small the individual action, our impact as a collective group can change our future for the better. While I am still processing the summit, I know I will not only continue to work to make our workplace better, but I will look to different avenues to effect the change I want to see.
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