One year of Endeavour with Paulina Helińska December 15th, 2020
Paulina Helińska’s year-long journey with Endeavour has given her the opportunity to make a meaningful impact with two major community organizations – emphasizing that getting the chance to help people and give back, is often the most important part of the role.
Similar to Paulina’s current position as Product Manager at Novo Nordisk Canada – a leading global healthcare company specializing in diabetes care, she recognizes that there is also a level of purposeful work in her industry, and appreciates the opportunity to help others in unexpected ways.
Tell me more about yourself and what influenced you to get involved with Endeavour?
I have only been in Canada for about a year-and-a-half for work, but I’m originally from Poland. Before coming here, I lived in New Zealand and Denmark,
When I came to Canada, I knew that I also wanted to use this time to do something good. For context, I have been volunteering my whole life wherever I’ve lived, and so, through some Google searches, I found out about Endeavour. I was really lucky to be part of Endeavour from the start of my time here in Canada.
You mentioned that you have been volunteering your whole life, can you tell me more about your previous volunteer experiences?
While completing my bachelor’s degree in Poland, I was part of AIESEC – one of the largest youth-run organizations in the world, focusing on leadership development through exchange opportunities, volunteering, and work placements. Through AIESEC I also had the opportunity to move to New Zealand to work on a national level. Overall, it became a way for me to get professional experience while I was studying.
While living in Denmark I volunteered with a Red Cross initiative to teach adults how to ride a bike. It was largely to help refugees and immigrants who came from countries where cycling is not very common, because in Denmark you cannot get away with not being able to cycle!
Lastly, I supported the Wedu scholarship program as a virtual mentor to young women in South East Asia with high potential to influence and change their communities.
It seems like you have been part of many impactful projects and initiatives. Looking at your time with Endeavour, can you reflect on the projects you have worked on and what your overall experience was working with different organizations?
I have been with Endeavour for about a year and I just finished my second project with the team. I started as a consultant with After Breast Cancer, and for the second round, I was an Engagement Manager for the Blue Door project. The reason I wanted to join Endeavour was to expand my network, especially being new to Canada, and to offer my skills as well as contribute to something good. I think that being able to contribute to a local community brings a lot of satisfaction, and Endeavour offers that for people of all ages and professional backgrounds.
My teammates have come from very different backgrounds – we have all kinds of experience, and everyone brings something different to the table. In my most recent project, one of the greatest takeaways was seeing the growth of an outstanding partnership and dynamic between the client, Blue Door, and the Endeavour team. Blue Door was extremely proactive and engaged in this project, and really cared about the outcome. As for the Endeavour team that I worked with – everyone took ownership of their deliverables, they were approachable and easy to work and communicate with despite the pandemic. I think when you put these two together – a great team and a proactive, engaged client, then that is the recipe for a great project.
Based on these experiences, what kind of impact do you think Endeavour’s work has on communities and why is this work important to you?
I think pro bono consulting has a big impact on communities because it helps organizations that might not otherwise have access to certain costly, but supportive, resources or services. This work is also a great experience for people who are interested in getting involved with consulting because it helps to expand their horizons. Being a pro bono consultant really helped me learn more about my new local community, and it inspired me to think about what else I could do beyond Endeavour.
What do you think makes a good consultant and consulting team?
I think a good consultant should be open to learning about completely new problems within different sectors and open to new challenges that they have never come across before. Through Endeavour, I learned that consultants must learn everything from A-Z. They have to be good listeners and they should be structured in some way to follow a process, but at the same time be proactive – reaching out for information and learning from others, whether from the client or a project advisor.
For teams, I think everyone should be patient with each other and allow time for everyone to contribute in the way that they think is best. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, they have different ways of working and different ways of processing things, and team members usually don’t know each other beforehand, so there is this aspect of team building. Especially now that we are working in a virtual setting, it is a bit more challenging, and I think people should be open and patient overall.
Finally, what advice would you have for someone who is interested in becoming an Endeavour pro bono consultant?
I think one big thing is to know why you want to do it. Do not get into this work for the sake of doing something. It could be for building your network or helping your community etc. Knowing the motivation behind your decision will definitely help you figure out if this is the right opportunity for you. At Endeavour, projects can be up to a six-month commitment where you spend quite a few hours throughout the week with your team and the client, so I think having the right expectations, being upfront about why you want to join, and having the right motivation, is so important.
Endeavour brings people together who may not encounter each other in their day-to-day careers. In my experience, being both a consultant and engagement manager taught me a lot about leadership and stakeholder management – two of the most impactful skills for my career, and the most transferrable for future opportunities.
Paulina Helinska is a Product Manager at Novo Nordisk Canada, and was a pro bono consultant and engagement manager with Endeavour Consulting for nonprofits. To learn more about how you can join the Endeavour team visit https://endeavourvolunteer.ca/volunteer/
Written by: Lia Pizarro