Given the depth of our conversation with Hera, this episode would be released in 2 parts of about 30 minutes each.
In her day job, Hera works at the open contracting partnership as a senior community manager.In 2018 alone, Hera has been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 and MIT Tech Review’s list of 35 Innovators Under 35. She also received the UK Prime Minister’s Points of Light award in July 2018.
"I got into what we do at Chayn because gender based violence was something that really made me angry."
As Hera tried to figure out what she wanted to do in her life, she was in the explorer mode. Trying to start-up but eventually getting involved in a lot of volunteer programs that did work in the field of prevention of sexual abuse but given the rigor the program entailed, when Hera missed a few days she was asked to leave the program. Given that Hera was a high achiever, she took it was particularly hardly to internalize that she was asked to leave a program that she felt so strongly about. The depth with which Hera talks about her feelings is a testament to her level of self-awareness which is a great quality for anyone to have, especially for someone who runs a large scale social impact organization the way Hera does with Chayn.
A social change business model hackathon was a watershed moment when it struck Hera that there are so many ways that scaleble social change organizations were being built and reflected on how she could build one as well, but that happens a bit later in the story. (The rest as they say in history, but keep reading…) Or to put it in Hera's words, where she thought - "If she can do it, I can do it as well."
Interesting that she mentions that since the premise of a podcast like the Passion People Podcast is one where we encourage people to pause and reflect on this exact thought with the idea being access to extra-ordinary stories to catalyze that person to dive into something that matters to them by drawing on the inspiration of others, just like them.
The second and more defining moment came when Hera helped 2 of her friends, one in Pakistan and one in the UK get out of abusive relationships / marriages and rebuild their lives. The more she spoke the problems of women with Asia backgrounds with regard to domestic abuse, violence or relationships a narrative evolved. One that was being narrated by men or middle aged folks running organizations where they are supposed to help people that they themselves are so disconnected to.
Another interesting observation in the sector was the lack of a data driven approach to help the people approaching organizations where there was tremendous traffic coming to the website but the organizations were able to reach out to only a fraction of that number which is one of the things that Chayn (I believe) has done a great job in addressing with -
a. Having survivors be the volunteers in the organization.
b. Leveraging technology to make an impact on the lives of people.
Hera goes on to talk about how she has gone on to build the Chayn community of volunteers and the way they operate. They have a concept of an executive team where identified volunteers take on additional oversight responsibility for short periods of time and people get rotated in these positions to ensure that everyone gets an organizational perspective. Another interesting as aspect of how Chayn works is the 4 month-cycle. During a 4-month cycle, specific agenda items are worked on by the whole team and seems to be working well.
In a world of distractions and scatter brained-ness, focusing and mastering one thing at a time seems like an obvious thing to do but that isn't the case.
That's about it for part 1/2. Tune in to the next one, in our next episode.
Recorded at - Newspeak House, Shoreditch, United Kingdom.
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