Leadership2050: Creating a global movement

'We need to define a billionaire as one who improved the life of a billion people.'

Leadership2050: Andrew White and Jack Sim

'Live a useful life' - this is the motto of Jack Sim, the Founder and Director of the World Toilet Organisation, who joins Andrew White in the first episode of the third series of Leadership2050.

Jack Sim is a remarkable example of what can be achieved when you lead for impact and purpose. Jack grew up in a slum in Singapore and describes himself as a 'serial entrepreneur' – he has successfully set up 16 businesses - but 'retired’ aged 40 to devote himself to changing the world. He looked for a wicked problem to fix, and turned his attention to sanitation – and in particular to toilets. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1.7 billion people still do not have access to basic sanitation, such as private toilets or latrines. Of these, 494 million still defecate in the open.

Today we say a billionaire is one who took a billion dollars from everyone else. We are incentivising selfishness. We need to define a billionaire as one who improved the life of a billion people.

To improve toilet conditions worldwide, Jack set up the 'WTO' - the World Toilet Organisation on 19 November 2001. It is  one of the few organisations whose sole focus is on toilets and sanitation.

He talks to Andrew about how he created a global movement with - in his words - no money, no status and only two other full-time members of staff. He says you 'don't need to be a heropreneur. You can't save the world all by yourself, but you can get everyone to save the world in their own names.'

It is a true inspiration for anyone setting out to achieve what might look impossible.

Leadership2050 is a podcast exploring the leadership we need to successfully transition to 2050. Who are the innovators setting the agenda for a more equal and sustainable future? In each episode Andrew talks to a visionary leader from the business community who is confronting the challenges humanity faces and finding solutions. 

Andrew's research and teaching focuses on how leaders transcend 21st century challenges such as disruptive technology change and the climate crisis. Also, how they create cultures that are diverse, inclusive, resilient and high performing, alongside the ongoing challenge of delivering profitable growth. At Saïd Business School he directs the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme, and works with leaders from industry and governments across the world.   

This episode was recorded in May 2022.