Tim Simons: The Greater Phoenix Economic Council's director of international strategy, Mary Foote Hebert, recently attended a forum of young global shapers, designed to connect young leaders from around the world and help those attending to learn new ideas to take back home. Joining us now to tell us more is Mary Foote Hebert. The global shapers' community, what is that?
Mary Foote Hebert: The Globe Shapers community is a network of young professionals, really young exceptional people based in Geneva. The primary mission is to improve the state of the world which they do through conferences. Really, they realize the youth voice wasn't represented, which led them to create the global shapers community.
Tim Simons: That exists by way of a network of hubs. Am I getting that right?
Mary Foote Hebert: Absolutely correct. There are about 350 hubs now and they represent 156 countries around the world.
Tim Simons: And Phoenix has a hub founded by you, I take it?
Mary Foote Hebert: Correct, correct. I'm the founding curator for the Phoenix hub. We have about 8 to 10 global shapers, that's what we call the exceptional young people that are a part of the hub.
Tim Simons: What do they do, what do they offer?
Mary Foote Hebert: Really they would like to work on community projects and be a voice for the young people in our community.
Tim Simons: Do different people have different areas of expertise?
Mary Foote Hebert: Right. We have really a broad selection of people. Those from the private sector, the public sector and a lot of young entrepreneurs as well.
Tim Simons: The different hubs around the country, are they focused on different things? If so, what is the Phoenix hub focused on?
Mary Foote Hebert: The challenge of every hub is going to be different for every community. Ours is definitely different than the one in lux en burg or other communities. We decided to commit to having projects that focus on retaining young talent.
Tim Simons: And so have you started some of those projects? I know it's a young hub. Have you done some of these projects so far? What would have been the results?
Mary Foote Hebert: We started with having conversations among our own networks, trying to understand why it is that young people leave the market. And what we realize is that there are organizations like the one I work for, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, that do a great job of attracting innovative companies where people want to work. But there's another element of what makes people want to stay in a community. For us we realize that's getting engaged in the communities through nonprofit work. We'd really like to be able to better connect young people, those still in school and those who are young professionals to nonprofit activities helping their community.
Tim Simons: And do that end, again, members of the hub kind of go off in certain direction work on individual projects, hub centric projects how does that work?
Mary Foote Hebert: We're thinking about doing an event later in the spring that would really allow young professionals to get to know some of the nonprofits that are active in their community. And then nonprofits would be able to let them know the opportunities that are available to them. Really, the idea is that young people are then engaged and then want to stay in a community, because they already are there helping and engaged.
Tim Simons: Do you sense a little bit of that tide turning? Seems like the young are gone, immediately gone.
Mary Foote Hebert: Right, right. Yeah, I do. I've been really inspired by the people in our hub. The global shapers that we have. There's such a commitment to make feature a better place to be. I think you're already seeing it with what's happening downtown. We've already had initial conversations with Downtown Phoenix, Inc., about how we can work with them on some of the initiatives they are already undertaking.
Tim Simons: Let's talk about this forum in Geneva and a meeting of -- again, you're the curator, kind of the founders of the Phoenix hub. A bunch of curators get together and do what?
Mary Foote Hebert: We did several things. We were able to learn how to make our hub stronger. Part of that is developing a government structure, how to fund-raise, branding exercises. The opportunity to meet people like me from 350 cities around the world was incredibly inspiring. A lot of the older hubs that have been able to undertake best practices, what they are doing and what they have been able to accomplish.
Tim Simons: Did you see some of those that you could apply here in town?
Mary Foote Hebert: Yes, absolutely. Chicago is doing a project called my block, my town, my city. They would like to have an app that's a game, that allows people to earn points the farther away they get out of their own neighborhood. When you hear things that are happening in neighborhoods outside of your own, it doesn't seem so far away and allows people to have greater empathy for what's going on in their entire city.
Tim Simons: When you, as a curator of the Phoenix hub, hear about what folks in Chicago are doing, a game the goal of which is to get people out and about, doing, maybe we can do an app of a game of something here?
Mary Foote Hebert: Right, absolutely. I've spoken to the curator in Chicago and she's getting the app underway. They are part of a program, Coca-Cola will sponsor some of the projects. We can take their platform and put it into a project here in Phoenix if they are able to be successful.
Tim Simons: Did you find yourself, were they curious about Phoenix? Were they wondering about Arizona? And what did you tell them?
Mary Foote Hebert: I was surprised how many people really knew Phoenix and where we are. People know that we're a desert and we have sunshine. Some of the branding we already have in my experience is doing international business. But it gave us an opportunity to talk about some of the innovation here, the entrepreneurial activity.
Tim Simons: Talk about the involvement now, you're working for GPEC, they are also involved, the commerce authority is also involved in the hub. How does that all work?
Mary Foote Hebert: I did have some experience with the world economic forum. I worked with Mayor Stanton's staff, he was invited to speak in China at their annual meeting of new champions. They are very interested in what the Phoenix city has done in terms of urban innovation. He spoke to that and I helped him plan that trip.
Tim Simons: And so that is an association. But is funding involved? Are other aspects of the association -- how does that work, that relationship?
Mary Foote Hebert: Right now we're looking at projects that don't require a lot of funding. But then once we get to another level where it starts to mature, we can go back to the forum and there are funding opportunities available through the global shapers community.
Tim Simons: Are you the one who said, I want to start a hub, I'm the curator? Did someone come to you and say we want you to take charge? How did that work?
Mary Foote Hebert: The community manager for the North America Region reached out to me I would say in December of last year. He said he had spoken to some people in the community and they recommended me. I had worked with the world economic forum in the past. I was really interested to participate. It seemed a bit of a daunting project but I've been very pleased and inspired by the people I've been able to put together to this point.
Tim Simons: And that is a process. You have to look for the folks for your hub, right? You're the one who recruits?
Mary Foote Hebert: Yeah. So again, I'm looking for the diversity. I would like people from a variety of sectors, private and public. Also entrepreneurs have been really great because they are very interested in retaining young people who can also start businesses and they can share best practices. So the recruitment right now, we're at about eight to 10 shapers. We are hoping to get to about 20 by the end of January. If anyone knows anyone who is an exceptional young person, between 20 and 30 years old, they can email me. The address is PhoenixhubGSPHX@Gmail.com.
Tim Simons: What's next for you, what's next for the hub? Where do we go from here?
Mary Foote Hebert: I think right now we're really looking at the recruitment model that some of the other cities have done. Asking people to send us information about themselves, why they are interested in getting involved, and some projects they think we could work on and accomplish to solve problems in the community.
Tim Simons: All right, very good. That's a nice trip over there to Geneva.
Mary Foote Hebert: It was, it was really beautiful. It was great to meet people from around the world.
Tim Simons: Thanks for joining us, good to have you here.
Mary Foote Hebert: Excellent, thank you.