Our families and kindness towards others are the things that really matter

I don’t see how we can ever go back to caring just about profit, about our own health and not our neighbours, says Converge Director, Claudia Cavalluzzo.

Since my early twenties I started compiling a present list for my family, in the attempt to avoid lipstick shaped handbags (yes, I did receive that from my mum in my teens) and a scarf that, to this date, we use as a reference on what ‘not to buy’. 

I have always known what I want, and gifts are no exception, I am not embarrassed to admit that I like beautiful, unnecessary and sometimes expensive things. My lists have reflected that. 

This year I was putting together my usual list and, to my surprise, instead of handbags and earrings, I found myself asking for vouchers to support local restaurants and ethically sourced yoga blocks. 

When buying presents for my loved ones, this year I have preferred going to local shops to the convenience of Amazon, social enterprises and independent retailers over big chains. 

In the last nine months the world has changed dramatically, from lockdown to the US elections, it’s hard to remember what life was like back in February. 

But what have we really learnt? Will we go back to ‘normal’ once this is all over? What will we take from this that will make the world and us living in it better? 

There are many things that stand out when thinking about this last eventful year, when we have had the opportunity of appreciating what we have, what we really need to be happy and also acknowledge what doesn’t quite work with the world. 

One thing I believe that is changing for the better is the now widespread concept of purpose. We have seen big banks like NatWest becoming a purpose-led organisation, large wealth managers like UBS leading the way on global impact investment and even the shallow and needless Christmas shopping turning into a chance to support local businesses and social good. 

When all aspects of life are questioned, we are left with the things that really matter. Family, health and kindness towards others. These are the elements that have kept us going throughout the last nine months of disruption, hopelessness and isolation.

The sense of purpose is contagious, it permeates our lives, personally and professionally. We are all drawn towards initiatives and projects that have a meaning and make us feel useful. 

With COP26 coming to Scotland in November 2021, we will all feel involved in a cause bigger than our organisations – even bigger than our whole nation! We have seen what global scientists have been able to do, in such a short period of time, when working towards a shared goal. If we take some of this magic and utilise it to tackle the climate challenge, then we really have a chance to make the world a better place. 

I don’t see how we can ever go back to caring just about profit, about our own health and not the one of our neighbours. I certainly have changed the way I look at the world and what role I play in it. 

Through Converge, the largest company creation programme dedicated to the Scottish university network, I have been able to help many aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions. It is now time to rally the troops and achieve our collective ambition. A shared mission, combined with a creative mindset and entrepreneurial skills, will undoubtedly contribute to our economic recovery and to the wellness of our society. 

And with this in mind, I am excited about next year, about this renewed sense of purpose that will be our guiding light in the years to come.