Questions for Chris Pratt, Carleton’s Own CEOx1Day Recruit
The CEOx1Day program is designed to close the gap between students and CEOs by identifying promising future leaders and giving them the opportunity to learn business and leadership skills from top Canadian executives. This winter, Chris Pratt, a third-year Bachelor of Global and International Studies student specializing in Global Development, was selected as one of 32 finalists out of hundreds of post-secondary students across Canada.
How did you hear about the CEOx1Day program?
The CEOx1Day Program was brought to my attention via the Career Services Instagram.
What inspired you to apply?
The diversity of organizations partnered with Odgers Berndtson’s CEOx1Day program was a super awesome point for me. For the Ottawa region, Canadian Blood Services and Shepherds of Good Hope were both partnered with the program and are two leading philanthropic organizations.
How has your time at Carleton shaped your career plans?
Carleton has fantastic connections with a ton of local organizations and government partners in the Ottawa capital region. I honestly subscribed to the classic stereotypical view of government and politics before coming to Ottawa, but through opportunities to really explore the inner workings of government (such as volunteering twice a week in an MP’s office), I have a more empowering view of how social change is being addressed. When one is given the opportunity to be a part of the everyday operations of organizations and institutions, as well as apply the higher-level theory they have learned, they develop an appreciation for how the typical news cycle misses out on all of the motivated and empathetic individuals that are working tirelessly to make this world a better place for all. I routinely told people that I would never go into politics or go work for the government, because I did not think that any difference could be made through those channels, but I am now seriously considering adding that into my future plans, now that I know, and have been involved in, the underlying processes that drive such change.
The CEOx1Day experience included both a regional Career Development Day with other finalists in the program and a mentorship day with the CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope, Deirdre Freiheit. What can you tell us about those experiences and what you took away from them?
One of the most reaffirming and impactful conversations that I took away from the Career Development Day was the fact that none of the professional attendees that were brought in to speak with us had a stereotypical path to the position that they now hold. I feel that, during the early stages of career development, a picture is painted that highlights a very linear trajectory towards the ultimate career. This conceptualization never sat well with me, and I am firmly committed to having as many awesome careers and experiences as possible throughout my life, because I truly believe that doing so makes one a better employee and a more active citizen, one who has numerous stories to tell. The Career Development Day only emphasized that developing a career must be a flexible process, one where you are always remaining responsive to and appreciative of what the next day, week or month could bring.
The mentorship day with Shepherds of Good Hope CEO Deirdre Freiheit and her team was incredible, a truly unique, eye-opening experience. Obviously, Shepherds of Good Hope is an incredibly complex operation that must pair the everyday actions of saving lives and feeding humans with long-term strategies of effectively deploying supportive housing and other community-centered initiatives. The sheer amount of awesomeness that Shepherds engages in every single day, 24/7, and the immeasurable impact that they have on communities is truly mind-blowing. The most memorable moment of the day for me was being stopped by a resident who told me their story and how grateful they are for the assistance that Shepherds has provided them in positively changing their life for the better. Behind every social movement, there are individual stories of impact that can be harnessed to drive forward that social movement, as well as a dedicated group of believers who are cooperatively relying on each other’s skills and inherent awesomeness to drive that change. Positive social change, as so many of us want to be behind and help support, is only successful when all these parts (vision, impact, engagement, team) come together.
How will your CEOx1Day experience impact your future plans?
I have always been an active volunteer in my community, but the lessons that I learned from my CEOx1Day experience have helped me develop an understanding of how everyday acts of kindness and volunteerism can be translated into sustainable and significant social change. I have a deeper appreciation for how important daily acts of kindness are in terms of driving and supporting social change, as well as a desire to help lead movements that are dedicated towards bettering the lives of Canadians. Engaging all Canadians and empowering them to become a part of the everyday social movement is something that I have only become even more passionate for after this experience and I will be looking to have this passion guide my decisions going forward, so that I can put this dream into action.
If you can share one lesson learned with your fellow students, what would it be?
I know, especially for the social sciences, what is being taught in the classroom is often so theoretical that establishing a link between what happens in class and the real world is challenging. This is often discouraging for students that have chosen their program with hopes of impacting lasting positive change, like myself. This CEOx1Day experience demonstrated to me that the university experience, as a whole, does empower that goal. The link between assignments and everyday conversations about how to change this world is definitely not concrete, but the skills that one develops throughout their education do pay off. Leading a social movement and sparking inclusive social change is definitely enabled when one is forced to think critically and holistically about overarching concepts, as these are the implicit foundations that underpin any successful social action.