Ben & Jerrys in Vermont #joinourcore

Last week I was lucky enough to visit Vermont as part of the #joinourcore competition that CoderDojo won in June of this year. Unfortunately James was ill and unable to travel so I was a very last minute substitute, my flights were confirmed on a Friday and that Sunday afternoon I landed in Burlington Vermont, the birthplace of Ben and Jerrys! CoderDojo was one of nine winners from around Europe and I felt absolutely privileged to represent the movement and the Hello World Foundation for the week. I was honoured to spend the week getting to know the other nine social entrepreneurs; 2013 Winners.

Social Entrepreneur Summit @ University of Vermont Social Entrepreneur Summit @ University of Vermont

What did we do?

Ben & Jerrys had an action packed week planned for us! Mornings were made up of workshops with thought leaders, problem solving sessions or hangout sessions with the Ben & Jerrys leadership team.  To balance out all the work, the afternoons were focused around getting to know different aspects of the Ben & Jerrys business; this included a trip to one of the Caring Dairy Farms who supply the milk which is ultimately turned into the delicious ice cream that we all know and love so much! Another afternoon trip was to the original Ben & Jerrys ice cream factory in Waterberry Vermont where we went on the VIP tour which included eating fresh Pistachio ice cream off the production line!

Getting our hard hats on for the tour!Getting our hard hats on for the tour!

Key Learnings

Sometimes I find that being given the opportunity to get away from your day to day responsibilities and routine gives you a great opportunity to view work from a different perspective. Learning more about the core values and mission of Ben & Jerrys gave me a great insight into certain aspects which could be implemented in HWF. From all the sessions and workshops we had there was one recurring point that everyone we spoke with emphasised; including Jerry and the CEO, Jostein; that was at the root of any great business is a great team. Jerry mentioned how early on he and Ben accepted that one person can’t do everything and in most cases one person doesn’t have the ability to change the world. You need teams. Or in Josteins words ‘you need to hire people who are better at their job then you’.

The Hello World Foundation is a very new and young organisation. In the grand scheme of things we are also tiny! With four core staff working full time on all aspects of the business from finance, operations, resource development, community support, administration, communications, marketing, PR, etc, you can imagine it’s pretty full on 99% of the time! What keeps us going is the passion among all the team members and our ability to put our hand up and ask for help when we need it. As we grow and expand we hope that our values, culture and our mission will attract brilliant and passionate people to join us on this journey. People should be at the core of any organization’s mission. If the people you hire aren’t passionate about what you are trying to achieve than how will you mobilise stakeholders and your community?

Thank Yous

2013 Winners, Ben & Jerry staff and the Ashok UK team 2013 Winners, Ben & Jerry staff and the Ashok UK team

A massive Thank You to everyone in Ben & Jerrys for making us feel so welcome throughout the trip, in particular to Ed the European Social Mission Manager and Flick and Rob from the Ashoka UK team for organising the trip!


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