Background:

Embark grew as a unique partnership between Xynteo, Unilever Turkey, United Work and Gelecek Daha Net (GDN) in 2017. Our programs are implemented by GDN in Turkey. GDN increases the employability of young people in Turkey through online and offline services empowering young people. Services vary from online mentoring, coaching, training, surveys, workshops, youth camps, etc. GDN encourages youth to be proactive members of society, gears them up with 21st-century life-skills and empowers them to make more informed life, education and career choices.

 

What is reverse mentoring?

Reverse mentoring subverts the traditional way we think about mentorship. At its core is the belief that senior leaders have much to learn from young people with fresh insights who are often at the forefront of cultural and technological change. The practice has been adopted recently by companies such as Microsoft, Mastercard, and General Electric to give senior leaders a better understanding of generational or gender-based differences in technology, culture, values, motivation, and skills. We have learned through Embark that there is also incredible value in pairing people with different cultural backgrounds or life experiences to challenge assumptions and build bridges.

 

How does it work? 

Each round of mentoring pairs young refugee mentors with business leaders who match their field of interest. Together each pair agrees on their objectives and meeting agenda, then engages in a series of mostly face-to-face conversations over three months. Evaluations of past cohorts found that:

  • Embark helps refugee mentors gain new soft skills, develop career plans and receive support for personal growth; feel empowered to start their own business; and, in many cases, secure jobs.
  • Meanwhile, business leader mentees deepen their understanding of the refugee demographics, improve their strategy for recruiting overlooked talent, and learn about new tech, trends, and social media.

Why Join Embark?

Businesses: Gain meaningful perspectives and awareness about how to tap into an overlooked talent segment and provide better services to this large and diverse demographic.
Governments and CSOs: Support pathways for refugee job seekers to gain work experience and guidance, and help reverse the narrative about refugees as a burden for host communities.
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Twitter: @EmbarkMentors

Watch a video here featuring Embark mentors and mentees sharing their experiences.

Embark Project

Embark Project offers “Reverse Mentoring”, “Boot Camp” and “Goals For Good” program to young and talented Syrians, Turkish youth and business leaders to exchange ideas, develop understanding, and build meaningful connections. Our vision is a future where refugees are well integrated into their host communities and acknowledged as a vital part of the local economy. 

Proof of Concept and Bringing to Scale

The pilot of the program implemented in early 2018 in Istanbul. Mentors were matched with senior leaders at Unilever, who included the Country Director, CFO, Head of Communications, and the Chairman of the UN Global Compact in Turkey. At their first meeting, each pair developed a list of objectives and planned a meeting agenda together, then engaged in a series of face-to-face conversations over three months. After a successful pilot, MasterCard Turkey signed on to join a second cohort launched in September 2018, and Unilever renewed and doubled the number of ‘mentees’ who participated. The new cycle also included career training ‘Bootcamp’ weekend with mentors and peer mentorship with Turkish university students to further support the integration process. The second cohort reached more than 30 refugee youth and business leaders. The third cohort has started as of October 2019 and this cycle will be completed as of May 2020.

Our Impact

The impact of the Embark program works on three levels:

– The young refugees participating in the initiative receive first-hand work experience and  develop the cultural insights and soft skills needed to succeed.

– By personally engaging with this talented young cohort over several weeks of one-on-one interaction, business leaders have a chance to gain fresh perspectives and awareness about the Syrian demographic and how to effectively integrate this community into the economy. The benefits are not only cross-cultural but also cross-generational.

– By widely sharing the Embark story, we reverse the narrative about refugees as an economic burden and promote integration instead as an opportunity for shared prosperity.

Success

In November 2018, Embark was selected as one of 120 projects to be showcased at the Paris Peace Forum, hosted by the French President Emmanuel Macron. Embark was presented as a trailblazing, collaborative solution to a current global challenge. At the Forum, Embark’s impact on the refugee integration process received great interest from attendees, including heads of states, international organizations, and civil society actors. More recently, Embark was invited to present at the annual meeting for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Sarajevo in May 2019. Within 2019, Embark has been showcased as a good example in several local conferences organized by Support to Life, Save the Children and GIZ in Turkey. Through these opportunities, Embark is enlisting new partners to make it’s model a global movement. 

Embark is a place where you bring two people from completely different worlds and let them discover just how much they have in common, and just how much they can learn from each other and even be of help to each other.

Odai, Syrian mentor

I first thought that this is just a good opportunity to meet with people from different backgrounds and share ideas and experiences ... After five meetings, I feel that we have touched each other’s lives deeply

Duygu, Unilever mentee

I now have an ideal in life and I will follow his lead on how to be successful in my career.

Syrian mentor

I am truly grateful for the chance I was given to meet a unique group of successful and ambitious people.

Syrian mentor

It was a great opportunity to get feedback from a youngster with a very different background. The content of the sessions was really strong and very different from regular corporate comments.

Mentee,Unilever

It supported my understanding very much about the new generation and cultural differences and similarities and helped me to shape my behavior to those generations accordingly.

Mentee,Unilever

OUR TEAM

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Embark Program Director

Nuha Boğa Çam

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GDN Founder

Serra Titiz

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Project Coordinator at GDN

Genar Ersoy

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Project Assistant

Rabaa Biry

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Embark Program Director

Nuha Boğa Çam

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GDN Founder

Serra Titiz

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Project Coordinator at GDN

Genar Ersoy

Cole Paulson

Advisor at Xynteo

Cole Paulson

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Director At Xynteo

Nyla Khan

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Sustainable Business & Communications Director

Ebru Senel Erim

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Finance Business Partner

Omar Toron