How technology will be the enabler of Impact according to Alumnus: Eli Geoffroy

Posted on 27 oktober 2020

Eli Geoffroy is what you call a go-getter. He had an idea for a start-up, so he founded one. He wanted to change banking for better, so he landed a job at ABN AMRO. Now he wants to create impact through tech, and you guessed it, he simply just does it.

Finding your Passion

“In 2016 I helped launching the website of NewBees, a platform to guide refugees to work at local organisations. I was inspired by the eagerness and determination of newcomers to contribute to society. When I enrolled with my team to De Partnership Verkiezing, it was clear for us we wanted to do something for (former) refugees.”

“In the beginning we were looking at improving conditions in refugee camps, but we quickly discovered by interviewing our target group, that we could be of most impact if we could help them finding meaningful work. As IT resources were scarce and a big challenge for the bank at that time, we saw an opportunity: help refugees to become the IT professionals our company needed. A win-win.”

“The programme is still highly successful and every growing. Currently, 28 newcomers have been hired and an additional 5 interns were enrolled in 2020. REBOOT is expanding beyond the IT department in other factions of the bank. The programme also engaged in a partnership with the University of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam to develop a tailor-made coaching programme to support the newcomers in their unique situation. Additionally, REBOOT is running a sub-programme which aims to support entrepreneurship among former refugees.”

“Nowadays, there is still a lot of untapped refugee potential. Our business-case consisted of training, guiding, and matching refugees within different departments of an organisation. I see opportunities for other companies to do exactly the same. It is vital that the refugees receive the right guidance when learning a new skill and getting used to the company’s culture, but if you are willing to invest, you will get a valuable, highly motivated, and loyal workforce in return.”

Budding Entrepreneur

“I experienced my journey through De Partnerhip Verkiezing programme as rewarding. You can actually make a difference, even if it is on a small scale. We just brought together the right people and kept pushing forward with our vision. You don’t need to move millions of people, the impact we have made is huge for the people involved, and that is what we pursued.”

“Along the way we met some hurdles of course, and that suck sometimes. But it is important that you don’t give up and focus on the positive. When we started out with our first candidate for example, we forgot to set right expectations with the IT department, did not provide the right guidance for him. So, we made a lot of mistakes. But in the end, it gave us the opportunity to improve our approach and our pilot candidate landed a great job, and that felt awesome.”

“To fellow young professionals who aspire to create impact, I would like to say, ‘just go and do it’. Only if enough people take action, we can really conquer the challenges of our time. Really there is no better moment to start than now, you may regret it if you keep postponing it. So just do it.

When you start, gather a strong group of people around you, to support you and to be your sounding board. Also, dare to be bold. In the Netherlands we can have this “just act normal” kind of vibe. But normal is not going to cut it if you want to change the world.”

Personal Leadership

“Growth to me equals making the most out of this great gift called life. I really enjoy working on myself and learning new things. I get a lot of energy from new experience.”

“Some time ago, I felt the need to go back to my roots and a more start-up environment, and I joined a Fintech in Sweden. There I was surrounded by people who are just as entrepreneurial, ambitious, and bold as I am. It’s amazing how much you can get done if you set the right conditions and if everyone has the same goal.”

Striving for Impact

“I love working in Tech because it has so much potential to improve people’s lives. I always try to think of how we can put our tech to such use that it makes the world a better place with regards to the bigger issues we face. For example, at Klarna we saw that a lot of people were returning fashion items because of the wrong size, and these returns create a large and unnecessary co2 impact. So, I started a collaboration with this cool company called Easysize that has developed software to predict whether an item is the right size for you, thus reducing returns and co2 impact.”

“My ambition is to go even beyond that and create solutions on a bigger scale. I think tech really has the power to do so. (Big) tech sometimes gets negative attention, which is partially justified, but I think if we set the right boundaries, tech companies can help us tackle the big challenges of our society. That is what I want to achieve.”