Campus champions

A nonprofit that encourages university students to solve pressing local issues is the perfect fit for Christoph Beumer.

When Christoph Beumer joined the board of Enactus 4 years ago, he didn't realize what an impact it would have on his life.

“Being thrust into a group of people with widely different backgrounds was a real eye-opener for me” says Christoph, who's Managing Director of KPMG in Germany. “Our relationships are built very much on mutual trust, and it's been fascinating to see how others approach problems in different ways. I've learned a lot from this experience and taken some fresh ideas back into the workplace.”

Enactus is a global network of businesspeople, academics and, most importantly, students, all dedicated to creating a better, more sustainable world. The organization establishes student programs on more than 1700 campuses around the world.

“We place a strong emphasis upon entrepreneurialism and innovation” explains Christoph. “It's a highly collaborative process, with board members and senior academics acting as mentors to the students, who thrash out solutions to the big challenges they see around them. One fantastic program in Germany established a scheme where less mentally able individuals are employed to recycle plastic water bottles. In addition to recycling more than 200,000 bottles, the initiative has given a number of disadvantaged people the chance of a job with a wider, positive impact on their community.”

Christoph feels the Enactus experience benefits everyone involved.

“In a world where creativity is becoming an ever more important differentiator, the entrepreneurial nature of the programs gives the students essential experience to advance their personal and professional lives. As a board member, I've also learned a lot and been inspired by my colleagues to `think differently'.”

One of the highlights of the year is the Enactus Cup, where teams from each participating country compete for the title of best program. The representatives have already been through a national cup competition in their home country.

“Every year I am astounded by the enthusiasm and great project ideas of our student teams. It gives me tremendous optimism for the future.”

As an auditor and tax advisor, Christoph feels his professional skills are a perfect match for his role as Treasurer of Enactus Germany. Yet, even for someone with his knowledge and experience, there remain challenges.

“The programs cover an enormous range of sectors and organizations, so I have to make sure I keep up with the latest legal, tax, finance and accounting practices and regulations in order to stay relevant.”

Christoph has also learnt a lot about sustainability, given the nature of the Enactus programs, which cover diverse yet critical issues like recycling, food, employment, energy, transport, education, employment and pollution.

“With a growing regulatory pressure to report on sustainable activities, I have learnt a lot about measuring impacts and joining the dots between inputs and outputs.”

He may have found a great fit with Enactus, but Christoph believes anyone considering volunteering should think carefully about choosing an organization that's right for them.

“I recommend getting to know the board and how its members work together. But above all, you need to identify with the goals and the vision of the organization. If these are in sync, you'll be amazed at the positive impact you can make.”

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