Just shy of her 30th birthday, American-born Barbara Jackson has gone from high-flying, high-achieving corporate player to a woman dedicated to promoting change. What does that mean? In a nutshell that means Barbara walked away from the corporate world to create her own startup, Projects For Change, with an eye on deeper personal and professional fulfilment.
Before hitting her mid-twenties Barbara found herself in Europe, rubbing shoulders with the good and the great at a variety of international high profile events, including Paris Fashion Week and the Cannes Film Festival.
A chance trip to India landed her in an Ashram, where she spent five consecutive days completely alone, following a rigorous yoga and meditation schedule for hours each day. Those five days proved inspirational, allowing her to block out the every day white noise we’re all bombarded with and instead to focus on her deeper voice, which she calls ‘the self’.
After six months of ruminating on this voice Barbara attended what she thought was a yoga retreat but which in fact turned out to be a sustainability festival. It was there that she fully embraced a new perspective, deciding to focus on the increasingly urgent environmental challenges faced by the world today – through innovation, design, technology, and most importantly, collaboration.
‘I was inspired to get more involved,’ says Barbara, ‘so I asked one of the on-site experts what I could do. It was suggested that I use the personal and professional skills I already had to create impact.’
Once back home Barbara quit her corporate job, and spent the next six months laying the foundation for Projects For Change. The first big project she took on? Saving the Baltic Sea, together with Zennström Philanthropies, the philanthropic organisation started by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström.
‘It’s not just about saving the Baltic,’ says Barbara. ‘It’s about bringing together different stakeholders from across the region in an effort to revive, recover, and restore the dying sea.’
This initiative, Race For The Baltic, has tapped into Barbara’s skills as not just a marketer but also as a person with the rare ability to get less than interested parties actively involved and engaged.
Barbara says, ‘My job is to show people that they actually do have a role to play, even when it’s not abundantly clear what that role is.’
Nearly two years later and Barbara has found a whole new way of interacting with the world, both personally and professionally. She has discovered how her working role can create impact, together with others, on a scale had rarely imagined before rediscovering her inner voice on that fateful trip to India.
While she sometimes misses the corporate merry-go-round Barbara says she has found contentment through working with people, through advocacy, and through playing a strategic role in facilitating change.
Today, Barbara lives on an island in the Stockholm archipelago with an enormous number of elk, along with her husband of five years.
‘I’m not home as often as I’d like,’ says Barbara, ‘but I find that creating the environment necessary to bring people together for change is worth the trade off.’
You can learn more about Barbara and her work at www.projectsforchange.se
Article by Judi Lembke
Photo by Orbitmedia.se