Similar to @MonaCheng I found inspiration from Goodnet’s list of inspiring CEOs. Going into this activity I was convinced that the majority of responses would detail leaders of successful, well known companies i.e. Patagonia, Whole Foods, or Toms. On the contrary, I was surprised to be given the chance to delve deeper into lesser known, but equally inspiring leaders finding solutions to difficult problems. For my profile, I’d like to introduce Scott Harrison founder and CEO of charity: water.
After graduating from NYU with a degree in communications, Scott began working as a nightclub and party promoter in Manhattan. He spent several years living a lavish lifestyle, chasing models, and mingling with New York City Elite. However, he began to realize how unhappy he was living that lifestyle. He describes the change as “spiritual bankruptcy” and desperately sought to revive his faith in humanity. He later signed up for a volunteer service, Mercy Ships, and offered free medical care in the worlds poorest countries. By taking the position of chief photojournalist, he quickly realized how good he had it in New York. He was astonished by the level of poverty in Western Africa and the suffering it caused. He reflected on the moment by comparing the average yearly income of a laborer in Liberia of $365 to the price of a bottle of vodka which he used to frequently purchase in one of his nightclubs.
After leaving Mercy Ships, Scott went on to found charity: water. The organization is committed to spending 100% of the nonprofits donations to providing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Harrison believes that access to clean water is the most basic human need and that everyone has a right to it. Charity: water is dedicated to mending many of the problems that a lack of clean water creates. They claim “diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war” and “in Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking for water.” Charity: water aims to curb these statistics by working with local experts and community members to find the best sustainable solution to providing clean water to local communities. In addition, charity: water invests resources in the coordination of sanitation and hygiene training in order to establish local water committees to insure the free flow of clean water for years to come. I think Harrison provides a great example of someone who wasn’t satisfied with material goods and sought something more. He lived a life that many people can only dream of, however, was unsatisfied with the lack of personally fulfilment. He demonstrates that anyone can make a difference. You just have to be passionate about what you do, and both you and those around you will benefit.