Mesha King (2017), IFRC Global Innovation Pioneer

My wonderful journey here begun, when the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) sent out a call to the 190 National Societies to submit an innovative project/idea to better the lives of the communities where we live in. I submitted my idea and I was one of the lucky ones chosen. Part of our training towards being a Global Innovation Pioneer was a workshop in Madrid, Spain from January 23rd to 27th, 2017.

I must admit that I was scared upon my arrival in Spain. I thought to come from a small island that I would not fit in but that wasn’t the case. Everyone was very welcoming, friendly and helpful. This workshop was amazing. It was an eye opener to all the innovation that is going on around the world. This workshop made us think out of the box. This was one amazing and wonderful experience. All the sessions were very interesting and very useful. Our session with John A. Sweeney drove us into Futures and Foresight exercises and how can we use scenario planning to start preparing ourselves for what is waiting for us ahead as a Movement.

I really enjoyed Dr. Howard Rush (Howdy) sessions especially when we had to come up with innovative ideas for everyday-life objects such as a refrigerator and how can we work out our brains for merging ideas that in the first instance may not have anything in common. Dr Rush also inspired us with a video that showed how a business innovation team in the private sector works. We also went through the “Innovation Journey” with him, which was not as simple as I thought, he explained us all the steps on how strategically plan a new project and a design structure to follow when coming up with new ideas.

Gary Wicks from Airbus Group was very helpful with the project that we had to design in Madrid (a creative way to help the Tourism Industry in the city). He taught us about prototyping, setting timelines and sticking to them (which I now use at work and it has been working pretty good). He is one tough cookie, but a cookie that is great at what he does and he really helped us with our project, it’s almost like we were lost until he came along. We learned about the revolution of the Michelin tyre from the two Michelin representatives who assisted us to properly construct a strong pitch, going through a series of steps and insights to take into account.

We visited a few innovative hubs which were so inspiring. The set up was not like the typical office set up, this organisation allowed free thinking and individuality. Going out into the communities gave us a chance to do a bit of sightseeing and we got to learn about Madrid, their culture and some of the history. Our tour of the Spanish Red Cross (SRC) was very informative and we got to see all the work that the Spanish Red Cross is doing, we were supposed to have gotten a tour across a very famous tunnel that joins the SRC office with the hospital but due to time we did not get to do it which was a little disappointing because I came up with this great plan to get lost in the tunnel so I would never have to leave, that’s how much I was loving this experience.

This experience made me realise that no matter where you are from, you can fit in. No idea is a bad idea. It is okay to think outside the box and it is okay to be INNOVATIVE. It is okay to fail and stumble through challenges, just never give up and it is okay to start over as long as you learn from your mistakes, use them to motivate you to be better and do better. I have learnt so much and I am still learning. I am doing stuff I never imagine that I would ever be able to do. I have learnt that I have a creative side to me. I have met a lot of wonderful, caring and helpful people along this journey so far. I felt so spoiled in Spain, everyone was looking out for the little Caribbean girl, who was always cold and couldn’t sleep, I was offered jackets and medication. I was always giving a seat on the Metro and I am yet to pay for my own Metro ticket. A huge to all of this wonderful group. 

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