3 years ago I was in college, pursuing a degree with the mindset to have a prosperous and well-paid career, even though I was fully aware about the suffering and inequality that was happening around the world on a daily basis. Leaving me with a sense of weltschmerz – a word used to describe world sadness – running through my soul. Why am I doing this? Why am I looking out for my well-being and future success when I see the news being filled with tragedy after tragedy?
The answer is simple: human beings are selfish, we see opportunities and take them, even though it sometimes does not align with what we actually want. Even if it doesn’t make even truly makes us happy. The problem with being self-centered is that you forget the importance of life, not only your own but of others. You stop pursuing what makes you happy and cease from living – going from living to just… existing. And through social constructs and normative acceptance you begin to accept that this is normal because everyone else is doing it. We have become a society of selfish sheeps rather than human beings. I couldn’t keep on living a life like that, I wanted to have a purpose, have experiences and make an impact on the world. I wanted to be able to wake up one morning and say to myself, “I feel like taking action right now”.
And now, I can.
And now, here I am.
3 years ago, I never imagined that I’d be running a student based competition that would enable me to be a spokesperson of social entrepreneurship, to lead a dedicated team and to network with thought leaders from business, academia and the civil society circles – not to mention travel the world and enjoy working on projects that matters to me.
Hi, I’m Viktor and over the past 2 years as a Hult Prize Campus Director I have had the pleasure of organizing two internal competitions to support the local student teams that would represent our university as well as the only Austrian university representatives at the Hult Prize Regionals in 2017 in London and 2018 in Cairo. All under the aim of solving a 1 million dollar problem, which in return will be used as seed-funding to grow the idea of students to a profitable business to improve the lives of millions of people.
At the recruiting phase it was all about finding students to participate at the internal competition, it all starts the same way. Many students would come up to me and tell me that it was impossible to create a business idea from scratch that would be up to the competition standards of elite universities including the Ivy League.
This is, of course, untrue, most of us create a mental hurdle before the journey even begins to avoid ourselves from disappointment, forbidding ourselves to think from a different perspective or to tackle the status quo. In fact, this very mindset almost stopped our winning team from competing at the 2018 challenge simply due to the fact that the Regionals were taking place in Cairo rather than London. The reason for this thinking was that the Austrian Government and the media categorize Egypt as a dangerous place – signaling danger – yet at the end I was able to convince them to participate and to my surprise they enjoyed their time in Cairo, which result into this cascade of memorable events and overall experience.
Not only did I support them on their journey to become entrepreneurs, but as part of the Hult Prize Campus Director network, I was invited to the Regionals of my choice and to the infamous Hult Prize Impact Forum at Ashridge Castle. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to learn directly from Hult Prize Foundation CEO, Ahmad Ashkar, about the future of business and Hult Prize. This trip also allowed me to meet fellow Campus Directors from other universities around the globe, learn about their journey and strengthen our friendships.
What we learned is that the perception of business is changing because in the past, doing good and doing business was separated; one couldn’t profit and do good at the same time. Now we are in the middle of a paradigmatic shift that is combining both elements that in the near future will replace the old way of business. The community is very down-to-earth and you never really feel as if you are working for a company, simple working on a common aim with friends – the experience with the Hult Prize Foundation was very unique and I now feel I am part of a global movement of good.
Although I feel like that I am already starting to grow and be an official part of the Hult Prize community, I know that this is just the beginning and no matter what direction it takes I look forward to it. Hult Prize will always be a part of me and the beginning of the journey ahead. Just three years ago I was establishing the Hult Prize ecosystem in my university all by myself – but I now realize that I am not alone, I am part of a bigger more significant movement!