Philippe Lambrecht worked in traditional finance for over 30 years, until 2016 when he began his impact journey. Since then Philippe has worked with several family offices and other financial and philanthropic institutions. He is a board member of PYM and an active member of the impact community in Belgium.
How did your impact journey start?
I've always worked in the financial industry, but in 2016 I had a burnout. Looking back now, I realize it had been a long time coming - my purpose and my work had slowly but surely drifted too far apart. - I went into finance (private equity) to help people realise their projects. So I look at my burnout as a life event that inspired me to get back to the path I belonged on - a place where ethics and economics are reconciled. This reminder, or opportunity as I like to call it, was difficult but also revealing, for it is what led me to meet myself again as well as all kinds of new people with similar values.
Meeting the CEO of BIO (Belgium’s development bank) and the Belgian impact community were big turning points, along with joining networks and conferences such as GIIN and EVPA, where I met the CEO of Triodos Asset Management who introduced me to Myleen Verstraete and PYM.
What motivates you most?
I am passionate about climate, inequality and development cooperation. I am also very interested in contributing to improving education and the mental health of young people. I believe current challenges are making it hard, for young people especially, to keep sufficient perspective. Unlike our generation who saw such obvious evolution and growth in their lifetime, the younger generation has to establish themselves in a much more uncertain world.
I am motivated to help, perhaps also because I believe my generation could have done more to protect the world, and sooner. All the signs were out there, we just didn’t (want to) see them. Now we have to. And I want to.
Besides being a consultant in the impact space, have you also started your own impact portfolio?
I’ve always worked for other organizations and do not come from family wealth nor did I generate capital through the selling of a company. I initially started in a more advisory role, using my many years of experience in finance to help others structure their impact investments/ philanthropy. However, the impact space is so infectious - it’s impossible not to want to personally invest as well, so I started to invest what I can with my own capital, in projects where the ticket size is more accessible, so I can still diversify.
There are many ways to partake, at every level.
If you were to advise someone who is just deciding what to study now, what would you advise them?
Actually, I just advised a young woman to study finance. I think with all the change happening in the world, there is so much opportunity to do great things with this practical knowledge. In the philanthropy and impact sector there is evidently a huge need for finance minds who are able to take all stakeholders into account.
What and who inspires you?
I am currently reading the great book ‘Earth for All, A Survival Guide for Humanity’ – the latest report from the Club of Rome. It emphasizes the importance of more equality, because as long as the gap between ‘those who have’ and ‘those who don’t' is so wide, you will never have enough support to bring about the system change we so desperately need…
I also find Brené Brown's work incredibly inspiring, especially her work on vulnerability. Other people who inspired me were; my Professor of Moral Philosophy Louis Van Bladel, Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), Hubert Reeves (La Plus Belle Histoire du Monde), Paul Hawken (Regeneration, Drawdown), Kate Raworth ( Doughnut Economics) and Viktor E. Frankl with his book Man’s Search for Meaning.
My faith is also a never-ending inspiration.
What do you hope for the next generation?
My daughter recently told me that she believes we must instil resilience in our children, and I think she is right. There are very tough times ahead, but we can evolve into focussing on 'being' more, instead of 'having' more. I hope for my children and for me that we can work on this together, for the next generation and all the ones after that.
I also hope the next generation will look at terms like profit and efficiency with a wider lens - that they will stop ‘maximising financial profit’ at all costs and only for a few shareholders.
I hope they will rethink efficiency as something that makes processes more humane, and more inclusive (nature included) rather than less so. I believe we can get there by concretely describing what this new world will look like - for whilst we might have to shrink and decrease in some ways, we will gain in many more and other ways.
Highlighting the many great real new initiatives will allow us to start dreaming again and propel us into action.
We must not allow fear to paralyse us.
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