The CEMS Global Alliance is a purpose led organization, powered by our beliefs that great leadership starts with self-leadership and societal progress requires continual exploration. In this series of interviews, we take a look at CEMS students and alumni that are contributing to make this world a more open, sustainable and inclusive world.


Humans of CEMS: Fighting against poverty and building one's goals 

Today, in our Humans of CEMS series, we are happy to introduce you to Philip Lennhammer, founder of 10th charity fund which aims at financing and funding various charitable causes. As of 2020, the Funds counted for approximately $120,000. In the interview, Philip explains his vision on giving back to society and the major hurdles that he has overcome.

1. How did you come up with the idea behind your start-up “10th” and what is it about? 

So 10th is a charity fund I created to help in the fight against poverty, something that I think shouldn’t exist with all the resources we have. 

The idea of a fund came from two very opposite directions. Firstly, I once read a research paper on the cost of an orphan each year in the US and the amount was so small that I thought I could pay it even as a student. At the same time, I spoke to a professor in thermal dynamics who showed me how they utilised small changes in temperature to extract energy. I thought I could do that with stocks so I created a software to do just that. This, together with some active trading by myself, became 10th.

2. What are the learning lessons that you took away from the experience?

Firstly, you have to feel for what you do. Some people have passion and for me it was a mixture of passion and anger to be honest. I'm passionate about helping people, especially those who can’t help themselves. In addition, I was angered that with all the resources we have, poverty still exists. Secondly, I learned to set goals and follow them! They must be short- and long-term. I started with long-term and then worked backwards until I arrived at daily goals. This ensured that I knew what I had to do and the feeling of crossing off a goal is such a nice feeling of accomplishment. Lastly, if something didn't work out then I learned not to see it as a failure. I learned that my setbacks should not define me but mould me. 

3. How has this start-up experience helped you in your CEMS journey and your stay in Hong Kong?

When gathering funds for 10th, I approached people from different backgrounds and had to understand how they were thinking. CEMS is an international program with people from various backgrounds and those skills sure came in handy when talking with them and the locals in Hong Kong. Practicing to see things from other perspectives is an underrated skill. Moreover, CEMS has many students who want to be entrepreneurs and courses covering the subject, so it was especially valuable then. I felt that I could contribute more to discussions with how I had developed my idea and the skills they thought were valuable. 

4. Do you have any recommendation for CEMSies who want to build a start-up?

Believe in what you do, if you don’t do it then why should anyone else? Doing something you believe in will also make it feel less like working. Secondly, set clear goals that you can actually follow. Grand goals may sound good but the goals you achieve are the ones that drive you forward. Also, allow yourself to relax every now and then and reflect. I usually dedicate my Sundays or Fridays to reflect on how the week has been, what I liked and didn’t like and then address those things in order to learn and move forward. On the more practical side, when trying to onboard various people, have something that they can work with. Too often people say that they have a great project, but it is still very much an idea without solid foundation. 

Philip Lennhammer
Philip Lennhammer HOC