How L&D offering social impact benefits both the cause and the employee

By Philippa White, Founder and CEO of The International Exchange (TIE)

Originally posted on HR News. Available here.

I was helping my daughter study for her science exam the other day. She’s 11.

We were going through the definitions of dilution, concentration, and the point of saturation, but she wasn’t managing to memorise the difference between them all. She was writing them down, but they just weren’t sticking.

Then I went to the kitchen, picked up a glass, got some water, a spoon and sugar. And then by simply putting the sugar in the water, dilution, concentration, and the point of saturation became evidently clear.

The act of doing something creates new neural pathways. You can read something. Or listen to someone tell you something. But it’s hard to get your head around something until you do it.

We can all relate to this.

Theory is the acquisition of knowledge. Experiential learning turns this knowledge into wisdom, through the act of doing.

We need both.

Since 2007, we’ve been taking people from can, to do.

We create the space for people to find their unique power to make meaningful change. And we do this by disrupting their comfort zones so they can discover what they are capable of doing and specifically, the nature of their unique power.

By pulling people out of predictable silos and exposing them to real, global issues they need to solve, we ignite their ingenuity, humanity, and purpose.

Growth and personal development don’t happen inside of our comfort zones, our area of expertise or our professional bubbles.

Instead, they happen in immersive experiences that push our boundaries and question our status quo, outside of the corporate world and the daily circumstances we are used to.

We are all pretty good at running trains along railway tracks.

In many respects that is what jobs are. You run the train along the track because you know that track is going to the destination that it always has.

But sometimes we need to learn to lay railway – and that is hard.

That’s what true leaders can do, and that’s where you need to test yourself.

Here are four unexpected benefits of experiential CPD and how it unlocks possibilities.

A chance to expand your personal and professional circle.

When you widen the circle of people you spend time with and talk to people in different industries, it will open channels in your thinking you didn’t know were there.

It will also make you better! Your cultural background, which has to do with race, nationality, language and upbringing, defines your imagination and what you are capable of inventing, your powers of creativity. Trying to come up with something new when you only work with people from the same background, is very unlikely. Expanding your circle will also enable you to empathize more, be more culturally intelligent and see things in new ways, it will literally be your superpower.

Push through boundaries and you will unlock potential

Nothing moves us forward faster than a challenge or a setback. Necessity truly is the mother of invention, and with every challenge, there is an opportunity to be unlocked.  You need to find the ability within you to transcend adversity. A Harvard Business Review article said that one of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is the ability to take something from the most challenging of circumstances and learn from difficult events. The skills needed to transcend adversity and emerge stronger are the same ones that make for extraordinary leaders. The more we encounter challenges, the better we get at encountering them and dealing with things going wrong.

Doing different things allows your inner child the freedom to be curious and find inspiration.

As children, we’re naturally curious – it’s how we grow and learn. But then what happens is, as we get older, that sense of wonder starts to escape us. Don’t let it!! Curiosity is a powerful tool. Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Paul Smith all share a similar trait. Curiosity. So try and listen without judgment, ask lots (and I mean lots!) of questions, look for opportunities to be surprised and make time for curiosity and being fully present. It’s a wonderful world out there, just waiting to be discovered!

A space to gain knowledge, belief and internal drive to go do

We all know things need to be different. But knowing and wanting are different to doing. Once we know and believe, we can then go do.

Leadership means finding a new direction. Doing things differently and leading the way. We know that companies need to change – especially now. That’s the very thing that will ensure their survival, and the survival of the human race.

If the status quo makes you uneasy, you see opportunity in doing things differently, and you believe you can make a difference, then finding opportunities to being brave, and push the envelope will make you a true leader.

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity”. Rollo May

Experiential learning helps people gain the necessary competencies, knowledge, experiences, and confidence that people need to thrive in today’s world. It helps to push people in new ways, and unlocks confidence, self-worth, productivity, and creative thinking. People become more more agile, flexible, and empathetic individuals – which is just what the world needs.

And if the experience is created in the right way, it can be a proper win-win.

Philippa White, Founder and CEO of The International Exchange (TIE)

Philippa is the Founder and CEO of The International Exchange (TIE). She is driven by the belief that when professionals fully engage with their humanity, ingenuity and purpose, good things start to happen. TIE is a CPD accredited leadership development programme that creates conscious leaders who are shaping the future of their industries and companies.

Through the simple means of disrupting comfort zones, TIE exposes people to global challenges, and creates the space for them to find their distinctive power to make meaningful change. Philippa believes that to profoundly change the world, we need people to connect with their potential.  In her mind, where we were is very different to where we are going. By helping people discover more about themselves and what their distinctive power is, her ultimate aim is to help create better people, with better companies, in a better world.

Philippa is a global citizen, having been born in South Africa, grew up in Canada, studied in Thailand, and worked in advertising in the United Kingdom. In 2005 Philippa moved to Brazil and launched TIE.

Philippa is 44 years old and still lives in Brazil with her 7 and 11-year-old daughters. They spend weekends hanging out in the Atlantic rainforest and exploring local beaches. She also loves spending time with her partner at his small shipyard as he finishes creating his new class of sailing vessel.


Everyone has the power to inspire, guide, and amplify team success. 

But before you can better lead others, you need to fully understand yourself!

This free tool is a powerful way to reveal the qualities you already have so that you can utilise them to become an even better leader.

Better leaders > better companies > better world.

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