Taking the Positives from Professional Failings

The ability to face up to the past is an essential quality in a leader, says Duncan Maru, Chief Strategy Officer of Possible. "When you're trying to deliver innovations that address gross inequalities and injustices, you have to understand uncomfortable truths and difficult histories that may reflect poorly upon your own country or ancestry."

Acknowledging our own professional failures is also vital, says Maru. He recommends "a brutal acceptance of the realities of mistakes, and how to use those for productive learning and organisational change."


Maru co-founded Possible during medical school with the aim of delivering healthcare to the rural poor in Nepal. He says getting recruitment right was an early leadership challenge: "We frequently cut corners on hiring; not being patient enough to find the right people particularly in leadership positions, or not transitioning people out of the company when things were not working."

This post is part of a special series for the Schwab Foundation social entrepreneurs in partnership with the World Economic Forum. In this major series of video and blog interviews, social entrepreneurs from the four corners of the globe talk about what they have discovered as they have taken their ideas and turned them into reality, in particular the challenges of scaling up operations and impact. The series is full of lessons learned the hard way that are relevant to leaders in every walk of life.