Laura Sprechmann, CEO for Nobel Prize Outreach.

© Nobel Prize Outreach. Photo: Clément Morin

“We want to encourage dialogue, collaboration across disciplines and life-long learning”

We speak to the CEO for Nobel Prize Outreach, Laura Sprechmann, about her first working experiences and the upcoming Nobel Prize Dialogue in Pretoria that will focus on the future of work.

What was your first working experience?
My first job was as a tour guide in Costa Rica for German tourists. Earning my own money for the first time, taking responsibility and stepping outside of my comfort zone were memorable experiences. This first job strengthened my confidence and showed me the importance of work.

The second job I remember was when I worked for BBC World as a student. I was in Argentina and Chile interviewing people for a radio series. I interviewed the former President of Argentina as well as people on the street. I remember feeling so proud of the press pass BBC had given me. During this working experience I proved to myself that I had the courage to push my boundaries and challenge my fears. The feeling you get after proving to yourself that you can achieve whatever you set out to achieve is overwhelming.

What do you think these working experiences taught you?
What these working experiences show is that when we start a new job, we are all inexperienced and new. I think that is something that we all can relate to. Even though we are out of our comfort zone at first, the satisfaction we feel when we are improving and accomplishing what we set out to achieve is exhilarating.

The theme of the 2021 Nobel Prize Dialogue Pretoria is the future of work. Why is that topic important?
Work is important for everyone in life and extremely connected with us as human beings. Similar to what I just told you about my own working experiences; work provides an identity and a meaning. It gives us independence and helps us grow and develop. Meanwhile, not having or losing a job can be devastating, as many have experienced during this past corona year.

It is a topic that is in the very heart of the rapid transformation societies are going through. People that are young today will be devoting their careers to jobs that we cannot even think about. How can we as individuals and societies prepare for that? What working skills will be relevant in the future? And how can we prepare all individuals, not just some, for that future? Having the ability to adapt, collaborate and learn how to learn will be especially important for future generations that enter the work field.

How does it feel to present the very first Nobel Prize Dialogue in Africa?
We are very happy and proud to present our first event in Africa. Africa is the place of origin of us as humans. A culturally rich, growing continent, with a young population that has a bright future ahead. I’m honoured to present the first Nobel Prize event in South Africa, a country with ten inspiring and courageous Nobel Laureates.

When we initiate a new event in a new country, we like to highlight the laureates from that specific country. It gives us the opportunity to emphasise what they have accomplished, how they broke boundaries, how they opened for new possibilities and overcame challenges. These inspiring individuals still show us today what is possible with courage, dedication and hard work. That is what the Nobel Prize is about.

In addition, we are very happy and proud to collaborate with the University of Pretoria on this event. The University of Pretoria is a very dynamic and future-facing institution. We have high hopes to reach other local universities and viewers. The University of Pretoria is crucial in that process.

What are your hopes for the event?
I hope that this event will leave all participants filled with new ideas and learnings. At our events we deliberately choose to mix laureates and other experts from science and society. To listen and learn from individuals from other fields than the one you are working in, is an excellent way to broaden your horizons and give yourself the chance to come up with new ideas and solutions. The ability to combine cross-disciplinary knowledge is something that our Nobel Laureates often emphasise as an extremely valuable asset.

We want to encourage dialogue, collaboration across disciplines and life-long learning. These are very much in line with what the Nobel Prize stands for.

Register now for the Nobel Prize Dialogue Pretoria, taking place on 18 May 2021.