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Portrait of Nadja Swarovski

How passion and purpose can define your ambition to bring about positive change in the world

Next Generation
Family business

How passion and purpose can define your ambition to bring about positive change in the world

Dec 10, 2020

The world's growing population of young high-net-worth individuals is increasingly interested in new approaches to wealth that can help society in truly meaningful and impactful ways. But in a world thats full of important causes, what's the best way to balance treading your own path of self-discovery with making the greatest positive impact?

Read on to find out:

  • How Nadja Swarovski and other modern philanthropists infuse their humanitarian efforts with purpose
  • How the next (or younger) generation are taking a more passionate and purposeful approach to philanthropy
  • 5 topics to focus your philanthropy around to ensure you have a positive impact in the world

How Nadja Swarovski brought her passion and purpose to her family's business

Nadja Swarovski's journey from heiress to business woman and philanthropist wasn't a straight path. In our recent conversation with Nadja, she revealed to an exclusively invited online audience how her expertise and connections, which would eventually shape Swarovski into the sophisticated global fashion brand it is today, were forged through a conscious journey of self-discovery.

As a fifth-generation member of the family and a woman, there was no expectation that I would work in the business. So it was really important for me to find my own identity by leaving home to study abroad – to find my true calling and passion.

Nadja is a fifth-generation member of the crystal dynasty founded by her great-great-grandfather Daniel Swarovski in 1895. Today, she artfully balances her role as a member of the Swarovski crystal brand's Executive Board with the humanitarian missions of the Swarovski Foundation, which she established in 2013. 

Rather than going straight into the family business, Nadja followed her passion for art history and foreign languages by studying in the US, then refined her knowledge working at Sotheby's and Gagosian Gallery in New York.

However, it was what she calls an 'Aha!' moment that took her back into the family business. Working with high fashion brands with European family names, she experienced a moment of realisation that she could bring a fresh perspective and a range of new skills that could benefit the Swarovski company. 

Her desire to make a positive impact led her to support and collaborate with a variety of young designers. In particular she worked with Alexander McQueen – at the time, a young, unknown designer. This paved the way for Swarovski's evolution into one of the most forward-thinking partners in the fashion industry. 

Building on her great-great grandfather's philanthropy

However, Nadja realised her passion and skills could also come together by building upon her great-great grandfather's philanthropic spirit. She went on to become the first female member of the Executive Board of Swarovski, and now oversees their Global Corporate Responsibility efforts and the Swarovski Foundation. 

We just realised Swarovski is in such an amazing position to have an impact because of our international and global footprint. It really went back to Daniel Swarovski's motto to think of other people

Alongside the Swarovski Foundation, Nadja also heads up the Swarovski Waterschool, a flagship programme which works on five continents, helping educate and empower young people to understand and practice safe and sustainable water use.

The Swarovski Waterschool is a fitting mission, as water was central to the Swarovski story from the beginning, having provided much of the power needed to manufacture Swarovski crystals over the past 120 years. Nadja's eyes light up when she speaks about her great-great-grandfather, Daniel Swarovski, himself a forward-thinking philanthropic employer. For her, creating the Swarovski Foundation didn't just help her to connect back across the decades to his approach, but a way of working with the rest of her family who still run the Swarovski business, to give Daniel's legacy a fresh relevance and an even bigger positive impact in today's world.

The age of the armchair philanthropist is over

Recent research shows that, like Nadja, there is an increasing number of young, wealthy people with a desire to effect change that stretches far beyond one-time donations to good causes. 

According to Wealth-X's Trends in UHNW Giving 2019 report, young, wealthy and socially-minded individuals want to be embedded in the process rather than donating from the sidelines.1

In the past, wealthy donors tended to ease into philanthropy as they entered retirement. Today, however, the generation is much more interested in incorporating philanthropy into their lives as an ongoing endeavour.

More than one way to make your purpose personal

Anders Holch Povlsen, 48-year-old Danish billionaire and owner of clothes retailer Bestseller, a company founded by his parents, is a prime example. A qualified farmer, his focus is on conservation initiatives in Scotland, Romania, and Africa.

You might call it philanthropy, I prefer to think of it as investing in the natural world: bolstering natural capital, supporting ecosystems and creating opportunities for things that are vital for future wellbeing, quality of life and economic growth.

For self-made millionaires and billionaires, their focus is often around their area of technical expertise. The first philanthropic venture by Brian Armstrong, 37-year-old co-founder of the digital currency exchange platform Coinbase, was, which directly distributes cryptocurrency to people living in poverty.2

Others make philanthropy part of their corporate culture. Sarah Blakely, founder of intimate apparel company Spanx, created a rotating philanthropy board made up of employees who volunteer their time to research and determine who receives the money.3

The 5M model for making the world a better place

At HSBC we help our clients to follow our 5M model of philanthropy which is outlined in greater detail in our Philanthropy Brochure, which is available from our Relationship Managers. This covers the key topics you need think about to ensure you make the greatest positive impact in the world.

1. Motivation

There are many sources of motivation. Identifying your focus can take time and motivation.

2. Methodology

Understanding what you want to achieve is the first step in shaping a lasting philanthropic strategy.

3. Mechanism

There are many mechanisms through which you can deliver your philanthropic purpose. Identifying which will be the most appropriate will help your giving have maximum impact.

4. Mode 

This helps you to put the best operational and management structure around your philanthropic initiatives to ensure the best chance of success. 

5. Measurement

Understanding and measuring the impact your philanthropy is making is vital. So it's helpful to work out how you intend to measure the outcomes you wish to make in advance. 

We also have a Philanthropy Planner, which you can complete yourself to help you define and shape your philanthropic strategy.

Giving back creates positive change for your family, your business and the community. HSBC Private Banking can help you and your family achieve your philanthropic aspirations now and into the future. For more information on how we can support you, please contact us or your Relationship Manager.




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