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Attending this year’s SHAPE Europe & Eurasia

Every fortnight, we hand over the blog to one of the London Shapers, to give you a flavour of what they do, how they think and what's really going on in our hearts and minds. Today's piece comes from Carlo Minciacchi who is the founder of Leapian, an EdTech and productivity R&D company.

This September, 226 Shapers from 107 hubs of 76 countries met in Istanbul for SHAPE Europe & Eurasia Myself, Jas, Faheem and Baillie represented the London Hub. With this post, I would like to share a glimpse into a SHAPE event, to offer a sense of who shapers are and to encourage current shapers to apply and attend a SHAPE next year!

SHAPE Events are community-based regional meetings created by Global Shapers for Global Shapers. Each year, SHAPEs are organised within the major global regions (Asia, Europe, Africa, LatAm, etc). In addition to sharing best practices and receiving guidance from the Global Shapers' World Economic Forumteam, Global Shapers gather at a regional level to get together, build friendships and create opportunities to collaborate. This SHAPE was impeccably organised by the Istanbul Hub and lasted from a Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime.

Jas and I decided to head out to Istanbul a few nights before the SHAPE weekend, to explore the city and meet with other shapers who also decided to arrive early. I was eager to visit Istanbul due to its rich culture and important role in shaping the history of the Mediterranean over the last 2-3 millenia.

A common thread throughout the SHAPE experience was that everything seemed to unfold in a very spontaneous and serendipitous way. Every day, we found ourselves heading out for a meal, a bazaar visit, an evening hangout or a cultural trip with other shapers. Groups formed spontaneously, drawn together by the desire to meet new people. In this unplanned & spontaneous way, I found myself having the most interesting encounters and conversations with other shapers, whom I had just met for the first time.

During the main event, we had a large breadth of activities planned and organised for us, ranging from workshops, to museum visits, to networking / social events. All the workshops were centered around the theme of "Actions into Impacts" and the Global Shapers Community 2021 Areas of Impact: Climate & Environment, Education & Skills, Equity & Inclusion.

I participated mostly in the Design Thinking based workshops, which coincidentally were themed on Education, which is my main professional domain at this time. As an example, in one full-morning workshop, a group of 30 of us learned about and practiced the basics of Design Thinking methodology on the task of designing “the school of the future”.

A highly memorable moment for me was when the young Istanbul activists of “Fridays for Future” [] burst into the main presentation on Saturday morning, and made a very strong call to us Shapers, as future leaders, to really recognise our responsibility in tackling the Climate Crisis. Their energy was electric and moving, especially since those teenagers made a very strong point about how it is time for us to really act and stop doing high-level talking about problems. Within a few minutes, I found myself really questioning whether I can and am willing to do more, given what is happening with the Climate Crisis. The activists received a standing ovation from those present.

I would like to share some key impressions I had of the SHAPE event. I am the kind of person who is most drawn to people who are open-minded, humble and are interested in having deep conversations. My impressions are based on having met many such people over the course of the days in Istanbul and I am sure that other shapers’ experiences and impressions will have been different from mine.

My experience at the SHAPE was very different from other events that I have been to, mostly because almost all of the conversations I had with other Shapers went beyond the superficial "what do you do?" topics! Everyone seemed extremely open and willing to share their views, perspectives and life stories; willing to go beyond the superficial layer of "what we do as people" and touch the more vulnerable layer where people can get to know each other from a deeper point. This opened up the opportunity for people to really share their views, experiences and perspectives in a space where they felt listened to and not judged. In a matter of days, I got to know other shapers deeply and made some great new friends.

I met shapers from cultures and countries very different from mine - it was eye-opening to listen to stories of life experiences that are so different from mine. I found it enriching to learn about other people's stories at such a deep level. This is definitely something that happens when you bring together people from all over the world that represent many walks of life.

Finally, it cannot go without mentioning that I had heard rumours about how parties at SHAPES are just as important as the conference itself. Without going into any details, let's just say that this rumour doesn't go unfounded!

I left Istanbul feeling extremely motivated and inspired by the work other Shapers and Hubs are doing around the world. More importantly, I left having made new deep friendships and having expanded my perspectives and points of view over many topics! Projects and collaborations have come out of the event, with other Hubs, hopefully turning Actions into Impacts!

The SHAPE has definitely been a highlight for me and I encourage everyone to attend one of these events at least once!

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