The TIE backstory


In this (first-ever) episode of the TIE Unearthed Podcast I thought that I’d kick things off with the backstory of why and how this all came together.

00:00:07:20 – 00:00:19:05
Philippa White
So the questions are these How can we really activate the best of the private sector to meet the challenges of the real world? Is there a way to accelerate my career that doesn’t involve boring online or classroom courses?

00:00:21:23 – 00:00:48:03
Philippa White
And can I really impact people in the developing world with the skills that I have? Can I finally feel proud of what I know? Those are the questions. And this podcast will give you the answers. My name is PHILIPPa White and this is TIE Unearthed. Keep listening and you can follow us on our journey as we show you how we’re connecting the private sector with the social sector to make change.

00:00:52:14 – 00:01:16:00
Philippa White
Hey there. Welcome to Episode one of TIE’s podcast. In this first ever episode, I thought that I’d kick things off with the backstory of why and how TIE came about. So as I really think back to where it all properly started, it was probably inspired from a particular long weekend in the UK when sitting with my family around the dining room table.

00:01:16:07 – 00:01:39:00
Philippa White
It was 2004 and at the time I was working in advertising in London. Basically my whole family is in the helping people industry. So from all over the world, South Africa, Canada, the UK, they’re doctors, social workers, environmental engineers, public health professionals. You get the idea. Everyone was sharing experiences about their work and what they were up to.

00:01:39:13 – 00:02:09:14
Philippa White
And then there was me, the one who worked in advertising. On that particular occasion, I really struggled to contribute to the conversation, which, if you know me, doesn’t actually happen very often. I felt, for lack of better words, unworthy and found myself questioning why I had chosen this profession or this sector. Can any of you relate? You know those situations when you’re asked what you do for a living and you apologetically say what you do and you just keep thinking, Oh, the private sector is evil, profit is bad.

00:02:10:04 – 00:02:24:18
Philippa White
But I hated feeling this way. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do for a profession. And after a lot of soul searching, I chose to be in the private sector because I knew that’s where I could thrive and that’s where my skills fit. And to be honest, I really didn’t want to be a doctor.

00:02:25:18 – 00:02:44:03
Philippa White
But I also knew that I needed more. I needed to know that my skills had a greater meaning in the whole scheme of things, and I knew that others did, too. And as each day progressed, this feeling just really weighed on me. I then looked at the power of the private sector. You don’t have to feel badly for what we do.

00:02:44:03 – 00:03:03:03
Philippa White
It has the power to make a huge difference in this world. I thought about NGOs, basically those organizations around the world that support social projects that governments don’t fund. You know, they lack the funding and people to do much of what they would like to do. We also don’t trust governments, and they take way too long to make decisions anyway.

00:03:03:18 – 00:03:23:04
Philippa White
But the private sector can act pretty quickly and they have the money and the people power to make big change. But in order for the sector to be to start to stand for more people within it needed to believe in it and to feel proud to be doing what they do and to understand how it can be a force for change.

00:03:23:04 – 00:03:46:21
Philippa White
And I kept thinking about this and also people on the outside of the sector, they need to not be so skeptical of it so that they actually want to work in it. And also, people need to understand the potential and the opportunities that it provides. You know, profit isn’t a bad thing. It allows organizations and their work to be sustainable, like not being reliant on donations is incredibly empowering.

00:03:46:23 – 00:04:10:17
Philippa White
As an aside, I love supporting social enterprises. It’s like TV isn’t a bad thing. Too much TV is the internet isn’t bad, but things on the Internet can be so, you know, back to the private sector and profit. We just need to make sure that companies at their heart are purposeful and don’t exploit people or resources. So I kept thinking, okay, so how do we get there?

00:04:11:13 – 00:04:37:14
Philippa White
And then I got to okay, so we need the future leaders within the private sector to know how best to drive companies in the right direction. So this is where my head was going. And then my uncle passed away. So just to back up, I was born in South Africa. I grew up in Canada. My accent’s Canadian, my family on my mum’s side is from the UK and I lived there for a good few years when I was working in advertising.

00:04:38:20 – 00:05:20:07
Philippa White
But South Africa was always a huge influence on me growing up and it was probably due to my uncle who was always a huge inspiration for me. He thought tirelessly against apartheid and he was appointed as Nelson Mandela’s personal doctor when he came out of prison during the first round of negotiations with the apartheid government. So in November 2004, I flew to Cape Town to join my family in celebrating Neil’s life, and it all started to fall into place when I was sitting in the congregation and I looked around and I saw a sea of faces with white, black colored people from so many different walks of life and backgrounds.

00:05:21:07 – 00:05:43:23
Philippa White
There was a government minister with his two bodyguards, medical colleagues, comrades from the struggle, friends and, of course, family. But what really struck me were the stories that were told by the people from the townships whose lives had been dramatically impacted by my uncle. I can still picture two of the people that went to the front of the room to share their memories of him.

00:05:45:04 – 00:06:06:12
Philippa White
The first was a colored man. He was sat behind me and he asked to speak and everyone’s like, Yeah, go, go. And afterwards he walked to the front of the room and he told us about how he lived in a chanty town where Neil had a handful of patients. And he said that Neil was the only doctor at the time during apartheid that treated his patients like human beings.

00:06:07:07 – 00:06:32:19
Philippa White
He learned the local languages and he was able to actually communicate with people that were sick. Unlike the others that were like a vet, unable to communicate and treated people like animals. I heard that and it blew my mind. The next person to put their hand up was this woman. She was tall. I’m 61, and I remember her being bigger than me.

00:06:33:24 – 00:06:57:09
Philippa White
She had an extremely large, heavy build and she had hair growing from her chin, which she clearly cut short. She was a big character, and as she walked to the front of the room, everyone wanted to hear what she had to say. She had this huge presence, and she told us about how she was in jail during apartheid, how Neil went to visit her regularly.

00:06:58:05 – 00:07:21:01
Philippa White
She explained that he was risking his life to do this. Not only is going to in, you know, to the area of town that she was in, dangerous for whites, but he also passed her chocolates with messages on the inside of these chocolates to tell her what was happening on the outside. You know, who knows what would have happened if the guards had got hold of those chocolates.

00:07:23:03 – 00:07:57:14
Philippa White
And again, I listen to this story and I thought, God, you know, this memorial was a huge turning point for me. It reminded me of what Sir John Hegarty says, and I’m not sure if you know who Sir John is. He’s a co-founder of the agency BBH. So Bartle Bogle Hegarty And I’m also lucky to see that he’s one of our incredible advisers for which I am so grateful, but he’s also an incredible thought leader and a famous phrase of his, as do interesting things and interesting things, will happen to you when talking about how to reach your full potential.

00:07:57:14 – 00:08:19:21
Philippa White
He talks about the importance of expanding your personal circle and to spend as much time as you can with people in professions and backgrounds different to your own, and how powerful that is. So when I looked around the congregation at my uncle’s funeral, I reflected and reflected on my uncle’s life and listened to the stories of everyone in the room that day.

00:08:20:18 – 00:08:48:00
Philippa White
It was so clear just how powerful it is to expand your personal circle. Neil was one of the most inspirational people that I knew, and it was clear that he had a profound impact on so many people’s lives, too. He wasn’t just a white, middle class doctor from South Africa. He was so much more than that. And this was why that day changed my life.

00:08:48:12 – 00:09:11:06
Philippa White
And it was a big catalyst to the creation of Thai. You know, people want to be the change that they want to see in this world. Our private sector skills are vital to making the world a better place. NGOs need our help, and CEOs want people that are confident, that are innovative, well rounded, and can work with a variety of different people.

00:09:12:01 – 00:09:30:18
Philippa White
This was the essence of what TIE was going to be about. This is going to be a chance for people to step out of their comfort zones, to work with people that they’ve never worked with before. A chance for people to be brave, to push themselves, to be more confident, to embrace diversity, to feel genuinely proud of what they do and the skills they have.

00:09:32:04 – 00:10:08:08
Philippa White
I thought, okay, this is it. This is what I need to do. So I quit my job at BBH, where I was working at the time. I had very little money. I was very lucky. I was a very low level, low paid account person and I moved to Brazil. I didn’t know Portuguese I or know that much actually about international development, but I know I knew that I needed to pull this off and I gave myself six months to create a pilot and I actually only had six months because that was the length of time that my visa was valid for.

00:10:08:22 – 00:10:33:15
Philippa White
So the clock was ticking, but this was my first taste of necessity. Being the mother of invention, which actually now is a big part of what TIE is all about. And with that, TIE was born. So since 2007, we’ve been taking professionals from the corporate world and getting them to work with social initiatives across the globe that really need their skills and their help.

00:10:34:06 – 00:10:56:23
Philippa White
And our goal has always been to unleash the full potential of future leaders through an opportunity to learn through experiences and to make a difference to people and communities around the world. You know, we’ve had professionals working in places that they’ve never been to before, with people they’ve never worked with before, often in a language they’ve never spoken before.

00:10:57:24 – 00:11:21:06
Philippa White
You know, they won’t have their normal team to help them out and they have a fraction of the money that they usually have to create something. And they’ve only ever had, you know, one objective and 30 days to reach it. And the results have been extraordinary and the whole time proving that necessity is the mother of invention since we piloted it in 2011.

00:11:21:06 – 00:11:46:05
Philippa White
I’ve heard numerous CEOs tell us that our program is one of the best leadership development experiences they’ve come across. After every placement, we hear participants say that the experience has fundamentally changed their lives. You know, numerous people have been promoted following a TIE placement, and the impact on NGOs and communities is seriously mind blowing. Now, there are so many stories I could tell, but we’d be here literally for days.

00:11:46:17 – 00:12:12:21
Philippa White
But to give you an idea, just just to someone as to how someone can step out of their day to day job and prove just how powerful their skills are. I thought I’d tell you about Trevor, the designer from widely Kennedy, New York. Now, a few years ago, he went on to, I know Trevor’s from mid-west America. He worked at Widens at the time, and he spent his life on InDesign or some other design software creating absolutely beautiful work for some of Wighton’s biggest clients.

00:12:13:17 – 00:12:30:16
Philippa White
He was great in design, but day to day he didn’t really have the chance to work with strategy or run projects from beginning to end. And he also hadn’t really traveled much, but he signed up for time before he knew it. He found himself in the middle of Malawi working with Hession, which is a social enterprise that works to tackle climate.

00:12:30:23 – 00:12:59:20
Philippa White
The climate challenge in Malawi by getting people to buy stoves that use a lot less wood and therefore reduce the time people spend collecting it. So instead of collecting wood, they can actually work and make money, decreasing the rate of deforestation, creating less indoor smoke, which to see, you know, lower tract respiratory infections are the leading cause of death for children under five in Malawi.

00:13:00:01 – 00:13:27:24
Philippa White
And I think the second leading cause of death for adults in Malawi because of smoke inhalation. And of course, less smoke means less CO2 in the atmosphere. So it was a no brainer. But before Ty Heston was only able to sell 500 stoves in two years. So Trevor, the designer, needed to do things he would never normally do at work, drawn all of the experience he’s developed in his life.

00:13:28:08 – 00:13:51:24
Philippa White
Get under the skin of life in Malawi and figure out how to get more people buying these stoves. 30 days later, at the end of his placement, more than 10,000 fuel efficient stoves were ordered. And now, I mean, the last time we checked a couple of years ago, there were sort of 500,000 stoves in the market and their leading stove manufacturer for the area.

00:13:52:17 – 00:14:12:12
Philippa White
You know, we have so many stories like Trevor’s showing that anyone can step out of their silo and make a difference and that people know more than they think they do. And so we’ve been on a roll and 2020 was looking like it was going to be a fantastic year. We had four new clients lined up loads of projects with social initiatives written and ready to go.

00:14:12:12 – 00:14:39:17
Philippa White
We were a excited and then COVID 19 hit and like so many other people around the world, this hit us big time. Border shut. No international travel now and probably for a good amount of time moving forward. Our business model sends people internationally. Borders need to be open and our clients are companies who, like us, were equally feeling the hit.

00:14:40:06 – 00:15:04:02
Philippa White
Overnight, our business model crumbled. And not only that, a few days after things started to shut down in Brazil, which is where I still live. Me then my five year old and shortly afterwards my nine year old all started coughing like a lot like it was never ending. And after a few tests, we tested positive for COVID 19.

00:15:04:23 – 00:15:27:03
Philippa White
What a moment. And as many other people can certainly relate, it felt like everything was collapsing around me. But the emails started to flood in from various partners around the world, and the conversations were ongoing with our partners around the Global South. We were really wanting to find out how they were, how they were faring in this situation.

00:15:27:18 – 00:15:51:18
Philippa White
And we started to understand the challenges that they are facing on the ground, in their communities and with regards to their business models, like they needed help now more than ever before. And I remember I remember looking at my placement calendar that sits on my wall behind my computer and it was empty, nothing, no money coming in. And I had no idea when international borders would open up.

00:15:52:19 – 00:16:12:20
Philippa White
And there were no organizations or companies or on the horizon as far as sending people to help. And I had no idea when companies would even start to invest in leadership development opportunities again. And I have to say, I had a couple of days feeling like I wanted to give up. It all felt a little bit too much at the time.

00:16:12:22 – 00:16:35:10
Philippa White
You know, I was still sick. My kids were still sick. Luckily, none of us had serious complications. But I can tell you this virus definitely lingers. I needed to look after us and my company and our partners around the world, but I just didn’t see a way out of this. I didn’t know what to do. But then I snapped out of it and I knew we had to make this work and we had to figure this out fast.

00:16:35:21 – 00:17:01:20
Philippa White
And I kept thinking, you know, NGOs need our help more than ever before. And there are so many people that want to be the change that they want to see in this world. We just needed to bring these worlds together and we needed to start to practice what we teach. Necessity is the mother of invention, and then things started to turn a corner.

00:17:03:01 – 00:17:21:08
Philippa White
So we created three virtual opportunities too, for companies which we knew would take a little while to fill. But we actually already started to, piqued the interest of a few companies that we were in touch with. And we had another option that finally allowed us to work with individuals who could do it without being sponsored by their companies.

00:17:22:02 – 00:17:55:10
Philippa White
Suddenly, we had so much more to offer and things started to get exciting. Then my guardian angel appeared in the form of Mel Percy, a TIE alumnus and now chief strategy officer at the global agency Be Real. She spoke with the agency and they agreed to help us with them. We launched our TIE accelerator program and I will be forever grateful they were the light and relief we needed at a pretty dark moment.

00:17:56:11 – 00:18:17:08
Philippa White
Then the conversations with the NGOs around the world started getting more and more exciting. We started to speak with organizations in so many places around the world that we were never able to work with before. One in Iraq, for example, that works with people impacted by ISIS working virtually now allows us to work in places that were previously impossible in the immersive time model.

00:18:18:12 – 00:18:39:04
Philippa White
And also we started to hear from a handful of global CEOs that were able to get involved with TIE before. But now that it’s virtual, they can so there was real hope and we started to see the benefits to this way of working. So having a virtual option, people now can do this around their day jobs. We can now impact more people on both sides of the equation.

00:18:39:17 – 00:19:13:03
Philippa White
You know, TIE has so much more to offer now. And now we have a catalog of opportunities for various people as a result, it’s a much more sustainable business model. So in every crisis there is an opportunity and necessity is the mother of invention, and the obstacle is the way. As clich√© as all of these phrases are, they couldn’t define TIE more than we all have a renewed enthusiasm for what we have to offer and the impact we can now have on the world.

00:19:13:17 – 00:19:36:24
Philippa White
So it’s a super exciting moment with some serious pivoting happening. And as we continue this journey, I wanted to have you guys along for the ride. Our daily conversations are really inspirational with participants, CEOs telling people social initiatives and developing countries beneficiaries, and the list goes on. So you may learn something new. You will probably see the world in a different way.

00:19:36:24 – 00:19:52:16
Philippa White
But I can assure you you will be inspired. So check in when you can and follow our store story as it’s being told. It’s great to have you with us. Until next time, better leaders, better companies, better world.

00:19:54:21 – 00:20:10:21
Philippa White
Hey, everyone, this is Philippa again. So this is your chance to get involved with Tai. We have three. Absolutely amazing virtual opportunities available, all rooted in connecting the private sector with the social sector. To make change. TIE has never been more necessary than right now.

00:20:13:14 – 00:20:20:20
Philippa White
So if you’re looking for life changing leadership development opportunities for your employees and you want your company to impact the world.

00:20:21:08 – 00:20:22:18
Philippa White
We’ve got you covered.

00:20:22:18 – 00:20:41:21
Philippa White
If you’re looking to step out of your comfort zone and use your skills to make a difference and keen to meet other like minded professionals with similar values, then our TIE Accelerator program is for you. There are so many options, so I urge you to get in touch. Go to tieleadership.com for more information or just shoot us an email.

00:20:42:11 – 00:20:53:13
Philippa White
Better companies, better leaders. Better world.

BE A BETTER LEADER

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.

created with by jessica lynn design
web development by carolyn sheltraw