The day after presenting my end of master’s dissertation, I got the chance to lead even further. As a staff member in a role that seemed built for me. It was a surprise. I had been turned down once already. But as my inspiring manager at the time said, God reserved that role for me: “It was meant to be”. I remember vividly getting a message while I was writing my paper about the circular economy. And wondering what the urgency was. I later found out a role that was temporarily held by someone else was now ready to be mine. And the timing could not have been more perfect.
What followed was a series of calls with different team members. They welcomed me with a smile and I instantly knew this story would be good. I went from being stuck in a student dorm to having a world of possibilities and challenges open up to me. I was entrusted with building a programme to help young people around the world tackle the issues they are most passionate about. This was my dream job!
Young People’s Impact.
Growing up, I became passionate about plastic pollution as I cleaned beaches in my hometown in Peru. I also discovered new realities through building homes in shanty-towns together with the most vulnerable. I even co-founded an organisation. Learning from the ground up how to fundraise, rally volunteers and communicate about our efforts to overcome poverty. Now, through the Youth Power Hacks, I had the chance to help other young people make solutions come to life, for the issues in their own communities. Through a design thinking process, a series of training sessions, intense moments of pitching and even a public vote I saw the teams evolve, grow and, most importantly, generate impact.
Emmanuel managed to build benches in a school for his community. Billy led his team, Juicy Emergency, to reduce food waste in Indonesia. Raidat has not given up on her dream of a mobile school in Nigeria. Which she is working towards with her team Street2School. And, like them, so many others are continuing their leadership journeys. And I had the pleasure of just being a minuscule part of them.
So, you might say, why on earth am I leaving my dream job?
Restless has always shifted power towards me. Encouraging me to go higher, grow more and take leadership. Even in spaces where I did not know I would be welcome. I joined the Restless Leadership Team, the highest level of decision-making in the agency, at 25 years old. But what was even better was that in my role, and day-to-day job, I was never limited to a job description. This is how we launched the Restless Youth. A group linking all young leaders at Restless to grow, share, dream and keep the agency accountable. It also meant I had the freedom to co-create our first-ever “Youth papers”. Highlighting the amazing #youthpower across our agency each quarter.
This is what powershifting is. Whether it be brainstorming together with our co-CEO in a London office and coming to the conclusion that at the centre of all we do is Youth Power. Or allowing me to move halfway across the world. And work from Sierra Leone and better understand the struggles and contexts of those I seek to serve. Or allowing a group of 7 young people to run a process determining what Youth power exactly is. I have always felt like this team got it. Regardless of which particular project or internal team, everyone is working towards one thing. Which is making the world fairer, more sustainable and simply happier.
Inés Yábar is a peruvian sustainability activist. Previously Global Youth Power Manager at Restless Development, now the Lead Next Generation Fellow for the UN Foundation. She works with young people to achieve a more just and sustainable world through both grassroots initiatives and multilateral processes. Inés sits on the board of L.O.O.P. and Ensemble pour TECHO. Her previous experiences include working in social impact organisations in France, Lebanon, Japan and Sierra Leone.