A dialogue with Shirley Goossens, Project Manager at Rabobank

Upcoming Monday, 1 November 2021, the 100k Actions Challenge of AWorld and Global Compact Netwerk Nederland will be launched. This is an initiative of one of the teams of the Young Professionals Program (YPP). To find out more about the challenge and the YPP, we talked to Young Professional Shirley Goossens, Project Manager at Rabobank.


Shirley, do you want to introduce yourself?

“My name is Shirley Goossens, 27 years old and living in Rotterdam. I am currently working at Rabobank in the sustainability department, in the SDG Transitions team. Within this team, we focus on developing products and services, with the aim of supporting our customers to achieve sustainable transitions through innovative solutions.”

Shirley Goossens

Shirley Goossens

Project Manager at Rabobank

“It’s nice to both expand my network and to actually make an impact with each other”

The YPP is a challenging SDG leadership program for ambitious and inquisitive young professionals between the age of 25 and 35. In this program, you will develop essential leadership skills and deliver an impactful SDG project with a multidisciplinary team of like-minded young professionals. Every year different teams do start. In December 2020, Shirley’s YPP team, called Green Gurus, started.

What is your role within the YPP team?

“In the first six months of the YPP, I was Team Captain together with Doruk Sirtioglu. This meant that we were responsible for setting up deliverables, monitoring progress, moderationing the meetings and setting up a structure in which everyone could contribute. Subsequently, two other team members took over this role, so that I am now ‘just’ part of a workstream. Our project is divided into two workflows and the team members are divided into one of these two streams, based on their own preferences.”

What has the YPP brought you?

“The YPP helps me in several ways:

  1. I’m learning more about sustainability. This is because master classes are organized from the program, on different topics. Topics such as on how sustainability can be integrated within the organization strategy, how sustainability can be reported or how sustainability can be integrated into business processes. In addition, our own YPP team has chosen to organize ‘lunch & learns’ ourselves, where we have been in conversation with the Mayor of Leeuwarden, Sybrand van Haersma Buma, among others.
  2. The program supports my personal development. During this program you can – through the different roles offered in the program – develop yourself personally. I chose to become a Team Captain because I wanted to further develop my skills as project manager and moderator. In addition, you can also choose tasks within a workflow where you can develop specific skills, so that this benefits your personal development.
  3. The program offers me the tools to take action in the field of sustainability together with other, enthusiastic young professionals from different companies. It is nice to both expand my network and to actually make an impact with each other. In addition, you get the freedom to decide for yourself what exactly you want to work on, and how exactly you want to do this.”

Would you recommend the Young Professionals Program to others?

“I would definitely recommend the YPP to others. You will come into contact with many professionals who work on sustainability. You can learn a lot from this. It is also very fun and educational to start and complete a project yourself, in collaboration with other young talents from different organizations. It helps you in expanding your network and there is also a lot to learn from each other. However, it is important to realize that you participate in a program, in which you as a team are self-managing. The team’s own input also determines the output. The team is guided and supervised by a senior team coach.”

Would you like to tell us more about your SDG project?

“The project we focus on is the ‘100k Actions Challenge’. This challenge runs from 1 November to 15 December 2021 in which we invite everyone to take action to combat climate change by developing a sustainable lifestyle. We do this in collaboration with AWorld, an app in which you can learn about sustainability and save actions you have taken. These actions are translated into CO2, water and electricity savings. In this way we measure the impact of all participants of the challenge. The objective is to have 100,000 saved actions in the app during the challenge. To launch the challenge, we are organising a virtual event on 1 November from 11:00 to 12:00 in which we invite various experts and discuss how to develop a sustainable lifestyle. We cordially invite everyone to participate in the launch. You can sign up here: https://bit.ly/3m09Rah”

How did you come to this topic?

“At the beginning of the program, everyone was asked to pitch an idea for an SDG project. Together we opted for the idea that to let everyone become the most sustainable version of themselves. We all agreed that many people want to be sustainable, but do not always know how or do not always implement this in practice. We therefore wanted to make an effort to minimize the difference between the intention / action gap. Once decided, we found AWorld, in which this is central. We then contacted the Italian founders of the app and entered into a partnership with them. We believed that we could make more of an impact in this way than if we were going to develop something ourselves.”

What is the goal and when did the project succeed?

“The ultimate goal is to make consumers live as sustainably as possible, where this is fully integrated into their lifestyle and has become a habit. The AWorld app is a means to guide consumers during the integration through tips, tricks and knowledge sharing. This app also helps to make the impact that we have realized measurable. Our goal is to achieve 100,000 actions with all participants of our community in the AWorld app, during the period 1 November to 15 December 2021.”

“What has been the most important lesson for me is that through collaboration you can achieve more than alone.

Shirley Goossens

Project Manager, Rabobank

When the challenge is over, what happens to the app?

“The app will continue to exist after the challenge and we hope that everyone will continue to use it. New insights are constantly being shared, and in the field of sustainability and integration into your own lifestyle, there is always something new to learn. AWorld will help you with this!”

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from the Young Professionals Program?

“What has been the most important lesson for me is that through collaboration you can achieve more than alone. That may seem obvious, but as a team we initially got the most energy from developing something new, namely a kind of ‘guide’ with which consumers could learn more about sustainability and develop a sustainable lifestyle. However, we can achieve more impact by promoting the AWorld app. This is so well put together and a lot of work has already been done in this, more than we could have ever realized ourselves. By making use of this, we strengthen AWorld, and they strengthen us. What helped us enormously in this collaboration is that the Italian founders of AWorld made an employee available from Italy to be part of our project team, so that we could quickly switch with each other. “

Can you apply these lessons in your career at Rabobank?

“At Rabobank, too, cooperation with external parties is very important, especially when it comes to a subject such as sustainability, in which there is a collective interest. You want to make an impact, and that goes faster together than alone. In addition, you can learn a lot from other parties, I am certainly in favor of doing this more often.”

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