How Nonprofit Bpeace Helps Skills-Based Volunteers Overcome Imposter Syndrome

By Susy Cheston
imposter syndrome

David Sturrock is an accomplished industrial engineer and one of the most sought-after volunteer business experts in the Bpeace community—but every time he starts a new project, he wonders what he’s gotten himself in for. “It’s starting to diminish, but in the beginning, I felt pure terror,” he says. “I always wonder what I have to offer—but I’ve found I have a lot more to offer than I thought.”

David provides pro bono consulting for small businesses through award-winning nonprofit Bpeace (Business Council for Peace). To date, he has volunteered his skills working with 19 projects in Guatemala, El Salvador and the United States.

Indeed, David does have a great deal to offer! Claudia López Urizar, who leads a family-owned designer and manufacturer of custom cabinets in Guatemala, recently shared:

We were at the point when you start thinking, will we be able to continue? Then we started working with David Sturrock who was amazing because he brought so much light to our problems. We had bottlenecks that we couldn’t identify where they started. David taught us how to use software to plan ahead for our production processes and to detect those bottlenecks on time and not when they had already become a huge problem. The action plan David helped us create is like our North Star for every decision.

David brought extraordinary value to Claudia’s business, and the numbers back that up. Claudia’s company has created 13 new jobs and increased revenue by 168% since working with David in the Bpeace program.

Bpeace Impact Manager Cecile Ney has carried out hundreds of interviews with both the small-business leaders Bpeace supports and the skills-based volunteers Bpeace sources to support them. She believes a high percentage of the volunteers, including many who are quite senior in their careers, experience Imposter Syndrome.

The Bpeace approach depends entirely on providing customized consulting for leaders of small and midsize businesses to help them overcome obstacles and unlock their potential for growth. Sourcing the experts with the right skills and industry experience is essential to ensure the impact Bpeace has become known for.

That has led Bpeace to develop a number of tools and protocols to support its volunteers and help them overcome Imposter Syndrome.

Bpeace resources include:

  • A scope-of-project template for clarifying the volunteer engagement
  • A booklet to help in-person volunteers reflect on their experience in real time
  • A structured notebook to document progress and action items for remote volunteer sessions
  • How-to guides for specific engagements
  • Training sessions with experienced volunteers
  • Mid-process debriefing sessions for volunteers to exchange best practices and discuss challenges
  • An Ambassador program to match new volunteers with experienced ones
  • Pairing volunteers when a diverse set of skills is needed

Bpeace not only provides tools, but also serves as an active matchmaker. When matching a volunteer with a small-business leader, Bpeace looks beyond professional experience and expertise and takes into account personal style, common hobbies or passions, and other intangibles that help the volunteer and the small-business owner connect on a personal level.

Throughout, Bpeace is at the center of the relationship. During an engagement, Bpeace:

  • Takes care of all logistics and coordination
  • Provides structure for each encounter between the volunteer and the business
  • Curates a positive experience for both parties
  • Serves as a sounding board and cultural interpreter to help translate local culture and context
  • Monitors progress to help the business and the volunteer move forward toward accomplishing the goals they have set

As a result, business experts have returned again and again to take on new volunteer opportunities—including David Sturrock, who is about to start his 20th volunteer assignment.

This combination of tools and staff support has also led corporate employee engagement partners such as ZS to attract new volunteers for Bpeace, more than doubling their engagement in the past two years.

The data speaks volumes. Even if volunteers have felt Imposter Syndrome at the outset, many report that their volunteer work with Bpeace was among the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of their careers. 

Bpeace is currently seeking experts in the food sector to work with small and medium-size businesses in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as experts to work with minority-owned small businesses in the U.S. Please contact Susy Cheston at for more information.



  • Susy Cheston

    Susy Cheston is Bpeace's Chief Growth Officer leading strategic partnerships and growth in Bpeace's volunteer expert network. Previously, Susy led a microenterprise development program in El Salvador and has led global initiatives for financial inclusion, cooperatives, and women's empowerment.

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