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That Shaped Your Career

Featuring: Asad Ayub
Communication and Events Manager at Euclid Network
Acumen Fellow and World Economic Forum Global Shaper

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We at EN are excited to onboard our latest addition to the Management Team. This time we decided to do something different and in the coming months we will feature stories from the rest of our team so that our members and partners can get better acquainted with what our journey has been thus far. Without further ado, we present to you our series ‘One Story that shaped your career’!

Asad, how did you hear about the opportunity to work with Euclid Network (EN)?

Before joining EN this May, I worked for the last three years at an EN member organization: the Centre for Social Investment and Innovation (CSI) in Heidelberg, Germany. The CSI also has a seat on the EN board and is a consortium partner for the EYE program. EN is the lead consortium member for the EYE project and that is how I learnt about the opportunity to work for EN. The CSI is a great example of how EN engages with its members on multiple levels.

How did you become interested in the field of social enterprise and social innovation?

While completing my bachelors degree, I started my own successful social enterprise in 2011. Our mission was to lay the foundation for a thriving social enterprise ecosystem in Pakistan. Back then, there were only a handful of social enterprises and no support organizations. In 2012, I wrote the first book on the subject (in the national context) and by 2013 we had successfully partnered with a leading university to set-up the first social enterprise incubator in the country called the Social Innovation Lab funded by the MasterCard Foundation. For both these initiatives I was instrumental in designing the communications, outreach and marketing strategies. Having worked for incubators, universities and social enterprises – working at a network that engages all these stakeholders on the European and Global level felt like the perfect next step to increase the scope of my impact.

What do you look forward to most about working at EN?

I look forward to informing and engaging our members about amazing opportunities through our communications channels. I also love organizing events that provide value to the attendees and help catalyze change. In my experience, events and gatherings can act as a catalyst for change. When like-minded individuals gather, the seeds of many great ideas take root.

Tell us one story that shaped your career?

In 2015 I was setting-up a local support organization to work for the socio-economic uplift of the last Indo-Aryan tribe in the Hindu Kush mountains. I spent three months conducting preliminary research but my stay was cut short by a catastrophic event, a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood. These are massive floods that result from glaciers melting at an accelerated rate. The flood I witnessed destroyed 312 bridges in a single night in the district where I was located. When it happened back then, people said they had not seen a flood like this in generations. It completely changed the landscape of the valleys. The sad part is, since that year this kind of flood has become a regular occurrence in that region. This event left a deep impression on me and convinced me that we are all in this together – we can either unite and flourish or we will perish. Ultimately either way we will be together in what is to come.

This issue affects those that are living there but should this matter to us all?

The region I refer to is one of the highest regions on Earth. 8 out of 20 of the highest mountains and 6 out of 10 of the largest glaciers (outside the polar regions) are in that region. Since 2008 we have been experiencing regular catastrophic floods down south but I personally never made the connection between global warming and the floods until I witnessed the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood and I saw the glaciers turn black. Personally, the impact of witnessing such an event up-close was immense. I ended up coming away from the experience with a renewed sense of purpose, a new mission – even if it wasn’t the one I intended or expected to come away with. I am sure each of us has experienced this already, perhaps in subtle ways. Take Heidelberg for instance, a few decades ago one could ice skate on the river in the winter, something that younger generations cannot fathom now. The world is round, interconnected and we are all in this together.

Are there any solutions to rapidly melting glaciers that are being tested?

Well there is a project by the Dalai Lama’s Office to build Ice Stupas for revitalizing the glaciers using spring water but the simplest solution is best summed up by Greta Thunberg: ‘Forget about net zero, we need real zero’.

How do you think being at Euclid Network will help you achieve your personal and professional goals?

I believe that Euclid Network is well-placed within the European and the Global social enterprise ecosystem. EN works closely not only with national social enterprise networks but also the EU, UNTFSSE and the World Economic Forum which allows us to better advocate for social enterprises. This allows me to scale the impact of my work. At EN, I am a part of a like-minded group of change makers and I believe good things happen organically when the right people come together. At EN I am confident I can scale the impact of my work, buoyed by the knowledge that in 2020-21 EN helped 32,440 social enterprise organizations and a total of 649,964 individuals.

What is your passion and what drives you?

I am very interested in seeing how emerging technologies like IoT, blockchain, data and digitalisation can be leveraged to take social innovation to the next level and hopefully improve the lives of communities that live on the margins.

What book shaped your career?

‘Small is Beautiful’ by E.F. Schumacher and ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. The first book has the roots of what we now know as the circular economy – it explores the concept of Buddhist Economics and Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of Gram Swaraj i.e. self-sufficient but interlinked village republics. The second book by Collins is an empirical study about the personality traits of leaders that helped ensure long term success of an organization even decades after their departure.

How do you spend your free time?

I love reading short stories, learning new skills, softwares and understanding how different technologies work. My current hobbies include learning how to program hardware in my free time and I also like experimenting with new mediums of creative expression.

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Ice Stupa

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