Learning from Leaders through Their Stories

Meriam Salem is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow based at Global Impact. During her fellowship, she had the opportunity to participate in the filming of the “Leading Thoughts” video series of the Storytelling Program. Here are some of her reflections on that experience.

As a student studying international development and human rights, much of my understanding of the field is rooted in theoretical frameworks and case studies that have historically changed perceptions of development work. I can describe trends in international aid, key public and private organizations, and the formation of the United Nations, but like with most theoretical classes, there is a learning gap between theory and practice. Students like me are encouraged to seek mentors for guidance as we prepare to go out into the field. Our mentors range from professors and internship supervisors, but rarely do we have a significant encounter with a CEO whose ethos and vision are the clockwork foundation of critical organizations.

The Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program’s video series, “Leading Thoughts,” offers opportunities for those interested in learning more about the humanitarian field and international development to hear directly from the mouths of the Hilton Prize Laureate organizations’ CEOs. Through my role as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow based at Global Impact, I had the opportunity to sit in on an interview for one of these videos. This interview was with Victor Madrigal-Borloz, who is Secretary-General of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). Hearing about Mr. Madrigal-Borloz’s career trajectory, his background as a human rights lawyer, and his current position with the IRCT helped with my own understanding of philosophical frameworks operating at an organizational level. Observing the interview, I thought, “here is a person who truly believes that torture is unjust,” and I saw a CEO who carries that philosophical belief throughout the organization’s framework. In an hour alone, I learned so much about the work of great international NGOs and the growing demand for collaboration through the conversation with Mr. Madrigal-Borloz.

(Meriam, middle, with HPC Fellows Program alum Rachel Francis and Anna Russell during an afternoon of filming for the Storytelling Program)

Through this series and other opportunities, the Hilton Prize Coalition brings in leaders and experts in the field from the Hilton Prize Coalition member organizations to mentor and provide guidance for young professionals like myself. More importantly, the documentaries and videos being produced through the Storytelling Program allow for information and lessons learned from a transforming field to be more accessible to different audiences. Whether the viewers are young professionals or seasoned veterans, being able to hear the experiences of chief executives is valuable regardless of the level of experience or position a person holds in an organization.

A clip from Mr. Madrigal-Borloz’s interview as well as other “Leading Thoughts” videos can be found on the Hilton Prize Coalition’s Story Wall.


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