Summer Intern Challenge Winner: Green Office
New York, August 15 2018 – As part of the Libra Internship Program (LIP), the summer 2018 interns were challenged to develop an innovative idea and proposal that could contribute to Libra in some way. The project provided interns with more learning opportunities, public speaking practice and a chance to show their entrepreneurial thinking. Ideas ranged from creative communications strategies to mapping climate and weather-related business risks. Over ten weeks, each intern submitted a written proposal and participated in an oral presentation, judged by a committee of Libra staff. Three finalists were then selected to take part in a second round of presentations judged by some of Libra’s top executives. The winner was Valeria Sofia Escobar, a Libra HR intern placed in New York, NY. She discusses more about herself and her proposal, Green Office, below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Valeria Sofia Escobar, and I am from Colombia. I love my country and think everyone should visit. I recently finished my undergraduate classes and will graduate in October. As a business major with a photography and education minor, my dream is to establish a school which focuses not only on academics but also on personal growth, enhancing values and soft skills. This summer at Libra, I developed my project, Green Office. It aims to create a new social program which will reduce the ecological and carbon footprint of Libra’s offices and link environmental awareness to the company’s values and culture.
How did you come up with your idea?
I’m passionate about the environment. If we all as individuals feel empowered about the situation, we can improve it. When I arrived to New York, I was surprised by all the plastic that was being used, and I chose to change that. Libra gave me the opportunity to propose an innovative project, which was a great starting point to generate environmental consciousness with the employees, who in turn could educate their families and friends.
How does your idea align with Libra values?
For me, environmental issues mean caring about the well-being of future generations. Future generations are the ones who will suffer the effects of what we are doing today. On average, the world population is using 1.6 planet earths, meaning that 60% of our resources will not have sufficient time to regenerate and supply future needs. Libra Group’s has a strong sense of social responsibility, and caring about the environment is preventing future social issues.
What did you learn from the experience?
While researching for my Green Office proposal, I learned many environmental facts and about the future of our planet. I also learned how to properly structure an extensive proposal and how to improve my presentation skills. Listening to other opinions is valuable; this helped to enrich my own project.
How did you prepare for presenting in front of top Libra executives?
First, I worked to create a solid presentation that was very clear and would catch the executives’ attention. I decided to start by telling a story that highlighted the connection of my idea to Libra’s core values. Secondly, I practiced the presentation considerably. I rehearsed in front of many other employees and peers and asked them for feedback.
What did you find most challenging about the project?
The most challenging part about this project, and every environmental project, is to change the behavioral patterns, especially the consumption, of individuals. This requires effort from people and changing habits is difficult. For example, bringing reusable bags to the supermarket instead of plastic ones sounds easy, but at the beginning it can be inconvenient. It takes time to become accustomed.
What advice would you give future intern cohorts for preparing for this project?
My advice would be to choose a topic they are passionate about. Libra is such a diverse group that there is a strong chance that they will be able to link their topic of interest to an innovative proposal.
What was your proudest moment in this process?
I was very happy when we installed the new trash cans in the New York office to start implementing my waste management initiative. I felt like a little kid with a new toy! It was also great seeing people engage on recycling and making an effort to dispose their waste correctly.
What future do you envision for yourself in environmentalism?
I will take environmentalism with me wherever I go. My goal is to be more conscious about my consumption patterns as well as to keep spreading the knowledge I’ve gain. I plan to continue working as a volunteer for Mesa Ambiental Uniandina (MAUA), an environmental organization in Colombia.