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July 11, 2023

Jannis' Social Fellowship: Restoring coral reefs in Indonesia

Hello, my name is Jannis and I am a Senior Consultant from our Munich office. After doing an internship at Roland Berger in 2019, I joined the company permanently at the beginning of 2020. I've been working in our Infrastructure team for more than three years now, supporting clients in the energy, real estate and public transport sectors.

I wanted to kick off the beginning of my fourth year at Roland Berger with something very special. On the one hand, with an activity that lies outside the normal consulting routine. On the other hand, I also wanted to do something where I could use and develop my personal skills and the skills I've learned in consulting.

That's why I applied internally for the Social Fellowship Program and was lucky enough to get one of the coveted places. For a total of eight weeks, I was freed from my daily consulting routine and chose to support the NGO Gili Eco Trust (GET).

The GET is an NGO that is active in Indonesia, more precisely on the Gili Islands – a group of islands next to Bali. The GET is active in four areas: In animal welfare, for example, they organize projects for sea turtles or horses. For horses because there is no motorized traffic on the island and horses are used there as working animals. The ecotourism section is concerned with raising awareness among tourists about the ecological footprint of their trips to the islands. The area of waste management supports, for example, working in a recycling center or organizing beach cleanups. In the last area, reef restoration, everything revolves around the care of coral reefs and the construction of artificial coral reefs based on Biorock technology. This is so important because coral reefs have an enormous impact on ecological, economic, and social aspects on tropical islands. For example, coral reefs are home to thousands of species of living creatures, serve as a source of food and protect the islands from erosion.

As a trained rescue diver for the German Red Cross, the last area was of personal concern to me. For this reason, I took the opportunity to learn everything from "coral gardening" (yes, it really is possible) to coral propagation and the construction of artificial coral reefs. As on our consulting projects, the team was quite mixed: from the Polish office worker to the German IT guy, to a group of French students or a British artist, everything was represented.

The typical daily routine was as follows: Get up in the morning and have breakfast overlooking the crystal-clear water. Then head to the dive center and get the equipment ready for the dive. Quick coordination with the team and your own dive buddy and then we started. After 40-60 minutes of working underwater, for example freeing artificial coral reefs from algae, we went back. After lunch in one of the countless small "warungs" with local delicacies, we went on to the beach cleanup. The evening ended nicely with a meal on the beach.

What fascinated me during my time on the island was the high level of motivation of all the volunteers from the NGO as well as the realization that you can have a big positive impact on the environment with few resources. I will probably not need the ability to build an artificial coral reef too often in my daily consulting work, but what I have learned personally and culturally will help me to support my clients even better with their individual problems.

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