A strong and healthy culture is essential for success. There’s a lot of research that confirms that. For example, a Harvard Business Professor, James L. Heskett, discovered that as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organisations can be attributed to effective cultures.

There is a quote from Seth Godin I love so much that I have it in my email signature. Every single time a message leaves my outbox, so does the quote. 

I still remember the stories people told me when I joined a consulting firm I once worked for. Mostly, they were dramatic accounts of struggle resulting in the survival of the fittest and the demise of the weak. Tales of personal sacrifice and heroic “wins” that made failure seem utterly unacceptable.

Probably the most well known and acknowledged organisational culture expert in the world, Ed Schein, was our guest shortly after he celebrated his 90th birthday. And he is not planning to slow down any time soon! His new book, “Humble Leadership” is coming out in July 2018 (you can pre-order it on Amazon) and he has plenty of new projects in the works with his son and other associates (check it out here). 

One of the main takeaways from my conversation with Ed is that there is no getting away from it - the person ultimately responsible for organisational culture is the leader. It’s what they do, what they pay attention to, and what they encourage and reward that will ultimately shape the organisation’s culture. Interestingly, it is also what the leaders don’t do and don’t pay attention to that can be a tremendously powerful culture shaping factor. As Ed said in the interview:

When it comes to culture, you get what you settle for.

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Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

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We often hear how important it is for an organisation to have a meaningful mission and purpose. And yet, a lot of companies struggle to see the link between their mission, purpose, and business results.

So, here is a question:

Can a meaningful social mission help you grow your business and win in the marketplace?  

Digital Divide Data (DDD) proves that it can. 


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DDD was founded by Jeremy Hockenstein and his friends after Jeremy's Cambodian vacation in 2001.

What Jeremy noticed during his first visit to Cambodia was the need to bring tech skills and living-wage work to men and women in underserved communities.

Since then, DDD established operations in Cambodia, Laos, and Kenya and helped plant the seed for a socially responsible outsourcing practice known as impact sourcing

Impact sourcing involves intentionally hiring and offering career opportunities to people who otherwise have very limited prospects due to poverty, disability, etc. 

The combination of training and work experience that DDD offers propels their graduates to find fulfilling work and earn lasting higher incomes.

On average, DDD graduates earn USD $175,000 more than their peers throughout their lifetime.

My guests, Jeremy Hockenstein, the CEO of the Digital Divide Data and Sopheap Im, DDD's Executive Vice President talk about how keeping their business aligned with their mission helped them succeed. 


Episode highlights

  • The life-transforming power of DDD's business model
  • The difficult balancing act that any social enterprise needs to perform: focusing on the core social mission and on making profits at the same time
  • The challenges faced when working across cultures 
  • What DDD does to create a culture that helps them bring their mission to life: to transform lives around the world through sustainable training and employment programmes 


Listen to the interview in the player below, or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review and it may be featured on a future episode.


Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

 Prefer listening on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify? Just click below.

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More about our guests

Jeremy Hockenstein
Jeremy is the Co-Founder and CEO of DDD. Prior to DDD, Jeremy worked as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and as an international nonprofit consultant.

He graduated from Harvard with a BA in economics and earned an MBA from MIT's Sloan School of Management. For their business success and remarkable social impact, DDD and Jeremy have been recognized with the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, as well as awards from the World Bank Development Marketplace, the IFC Grassroots Business Initiative, and the Global Knowledge Partnership.

Among other media acclaim, Jeremy and DDD were profiled in Thomas Friedman's “The World is Flat” as his "favorite example" of a social entrepreneur's initiative.

Sopheap Im
Sopheap serves as Executive VP of HR and Impact at Digital Divide Data (DDD). In her role, she supports the workforce of around 1000 people throughout Asia and East Africa. Sopheap introduced a performance management system and created an engaging working environment.

She started her first job at DDD in 2004 as an associate in the work-study program. One year after, she rose to a junior managerial role as a shift supervisor, then eventually became the General Manager.

Sopheap left her job in 2011 to pursue her master’s degree in the US. She holds a Master of International Management from Portland State University. She is also a 2009 International Ford Motor Company fellow.

Returning to DDD in 2013, Sopheap grew into an executive role and illustrates how DDD changes lives globally. By combining the right opportunity with personal commitment and determination, it is possible to achieve impossible things.


Books mentioned on the podcast
The Opposable Mind by Roger L. Martin


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