The first place to start about Laura is that she is quite international. She is half-Italian and half-Dutch, married to a Frenchmen in a similar line of work (who’s also a Hub member!). Her work required them to move around the rest of the world. She has three kids and loves to paint.
Laura is an international coach, certified by the International Coaching Federation. The Alternatives Factory is her baby company. She set it up at the beginning of this year, for a very particular niche – humanitarian and development organisations, as well as other purpose-driven individuals and companies. She coaches teams and organisations by helping them to visualise and achieve their goals.
WHAT DOES LAURA DO
For twenty years before setting up her own company, Laura worked for small and large humanitarian, UN and non-profit organisations. Her area of expertise is data-driven performance management. Her time in the humanitarian sector is a crucial part of how she ultimately decided to set up The Alternatives Factory.
Being a humanitarian is very rewarding work, and after eight different duty stations in fourteen years, Laura was ready to contribute in a different way, but she didn’t see how. She felt stuck. Then just one coaching session, during which she confronted all that was impossible to achieve that frustrated her. And the coach planted a question:
What would happen if instead of believing that things are impossible, you would ask yourself, ‘How can I make it all happen?‘
A couple of weeks later, she woke up in the middle of the night with an answer to an absurd question: how can I integrate painting in my work? Remember, she was working with data at this point…
There was this staff retreat and they had asked for volunteers to make it fun and engaging, she imagined a collaborative painting activity – together 100 staff created two huge paintings, in total 2×4 meters. Each participant painted a single part of a larger image as beautifully as they could, and then she brought them all together, a big puzzle, titled ‘The Big Picture’. The result was stunning, the multiplication of the beauty of all the individual parts, the paintings are hanging in the main hall of the UN organisation in Bangkok.
When we work on our little square, we do not always see what we’re doing for the bigger picture.
Oddly enough, it was that painting that made her pursue coaching. She realised that she could do what she initially thought was impossible!
Laura derives her energy from working with purpose-driven organisations and people. She wants to make the lives of those who are making the world a better place that much easier, so they can improve on their mission with clarity and purpose. She says it’s about simplifying and taking out the complexity of what we’re trying to do while keeping the ambition.
The Alternatives Factory are tailored for NGOs, international organisations, including the UN, and purpose-driven companies. For her clients the fact that she brings genuine field experience, including in high-risk emergency situations to development contexts, and her understanding of the life of constant mobility make it easier to go straight to the point. In addition, she knows the challenges of defining and measuring progress against what some call ‘aspirational goals’. The offer of the Alternatives factory includes individual coaching, performance driven team building, and strategic design workshops for teams and organisations.
Laura had recently been coaching the World Food Programme team in London. They needed a strategy to overcome the many challenges that they were facing, including Brexit, mergers of Foreign Office, COVID-19, reduced funding and others. Laura asked the team to formulate their mission statement, and then define what success looked like for them in the short to medium term. The next step was to decide on the ‘how’. How would the team achieve that success? The team worked hard to imagine a road to success. It was going to be very steep, and they came up with a plan. Then by the end of the retreat, the news had come that they were the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize! The vision of success didn’t change, neither did the plan, the road roughly stayed the same, but suddenly it felt much easier. As soon as the team knew they had received the Nobel Peace Prize, everything became possible. Not only would they get to success, but it would be quicker than they expected. Yet, nothing had really changed for them– none of the prior constraints had been lifted. But the point Laura emphatically makes is that the peace prize completely switched their beliefs. Suddenly they knew they could do it. And that makes all the difference because believing in it is a necessary condition for success.
LAURA AT THE HUB
Laura is grateful! She initially moved to The Hague because her mom lived here, so no professional intentions were in mind at first. But she feels fortunate to come across a place like The Humanity Hub with its great network of purpose-driven individuals and companies. She is hoping to contribute her skills in various ways, such as coaching and facilitating. She would love to give back to the community.
In general, she wants a community where trading between skills can take place, and everyone can work together more efficiently. After all, making humanitarian and development work more efficient is her calling!
For the hub community, Laura is happy to offer her facilitation skills for any community-building events, and if there is an interest she would be thrilled to set up a series of short sessions about coaching techniques. Laura is happy to offer one-on-one coaching sessions, and the first one (called the chemistry session) is always free. It’s a great opportunity to find out more about coaching and to see what it can do for you!
If your organisation needs a facilitator to build a team vision, clarifying goals, building more effective and efficient teams she is happy to engage, no strings attached.
Finally, she is thinking about setting up a podcast for purpose-driven people and organisations and would love for The Hub able to give her resources and advice to set it up, perhaps with other members?
Expect the unexpected, and with that, know that anything in your work is possible.
The Alternatives Factory’s purpose is to pave the road for us all to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Every situation, including the current one, generates new opportunities (Alternatives!) to create a better future.
Thank you, Laura, for your insights! If you’re interested in connecting with Laura, she would be happy to reach on LinkedIn, send her a message on Slack, or go to directly go to her website at thealternativesfactory.com.