(Earlier this week, we spoke with Doug Armstrong about West Monroe Partners’ efforts in corporate social responsibility. Although implementing such programs, we thought it might be beneficial to highlight employee experiences in corporate social responsibility. So today’s entry focuses on how one West Monroe Partners staff member found personal – and professional – success through such programs)
Our next interview is Tory Loebig, Senior Consultant at West Monroe Partners' Customer Experience practice. Tor, can you please share how you became involved with West Monroe Partners’ corporate social responsibility program?
I first learned about the Fischer Global Services Fellowship as an intern at a quarterly meeting in 2011, when the program was first announced. After watching the video of the first two fellows explaining the fellowships they were about to embark on I knew I had to participate when I was a full-time employee. So, as I was approaching my two year anniversary as a full-time employee, I started preparing my proof of concept for the selection committee.
How did you select the site where you worked?
At the beginning of the application process, I knew I wanted to dedicate my time to helping a non-profit cause, but I didn’t have a specific organization in mind. I started narrowing down my search by considering: 1) what I was interested in and 2) what I was good at. My interests turned me towards health and wellness, and my strengths turned me towards business given my undergraduate business degree and the two years I had spent ramping up my consulting career. I started searching for opportunities but initially struggled to find organizations that shared my objective of making a sustainable impact. Knowing that many people at West Monroe have their own philanthropic associations, I began to share my journey with my internal network, which pointed me in the direction of Social Entrepreneur Corps, an organization that a friend had worked with in college. Upon further research, I learned about Social Entrepreneur Corps vision, team, and proven results, and knew they were exactly what I had been looking for. Social Entrepreneur Corps is a social venture that brings university students, young professionals and corporate teams on consultancies to Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic to work side by side with in-country partners and their community enterprise teams to create systemic change.
Please talk about one or two personal or professional moments during your experience that are memorable and that you are especially proud?
I’m most proud of my resourcefulness in ambiguous situations or uncharted territory. I was able to provide support and expertise to the Guatemalans I worked with and answer their needs, even if I didn’t always have the answer right away.
- For example, I was asked by the principal of a school that served working children to teach their teachers about techniques of Montessori education and budgeting and savings. Even though I wasn’t an expert in either of those things, I knew how to use the resources available to me to put together valuable information and relay it to them in an interactive workshop.
- I also worked with the women of Soluciones Communitarias, who are community representatives charged with raising awareness of health issues and selling the products that help address those issues (i.e., clean-burning stoves, water filters, eyeglasses, etc.). They had access to a new app to track sales that students at a university in the States built for them, but they weren’t adopting it consistently. So, I designed a workshop to take a couple of steps backward, understand why they decided to become these resources for their community. Then, I helped them align the use of the app to their objectives and determine the best, most tactical ways they could start using it to support their campaigns.
- Lastly, El Centro Explorativo, a school that provided additional education and meals for children in a town with extremely high poverty rates, was losing access to their primary source of funding. So, I worked with them to understand different fundraising opportunities and connect them to GlobalGiving, which is a highly-selective crowdfunding website for non-profits around the world that not only increase non-profits exposure to sources of funding, but also provides education about effective fundraising to leaders of organizations that are using their site. Because of that effort, they ended up raising almost $8,000, which funds them for about half a year.
- Personally, I was most proud of the relationships I developed with the Guatemalans who hosted me. My fondest memories of those three months were sitting around the dinner table with my homestay family talking for hours about what we did that day, what my life in the States was like, and struggling through translation barriers. We laughed for the entire three months until we shared tears as we parted.
Did you find that your experience has an impact on your work at West Monroe Partners? If so, how had it impacted?
Upon returning from the fellowship, I felt I had grown in the following ways:
- Confidence to challenge myself and remain confident in high-stress and highly ambiguous situations
- Ability to understand that different doesn’t mean wrong. Life in Guatemala is so different than life in the United States but is obviously effective for millions of people.
- Ability to apply a more mature perspective on what is important in life – I have an appreciation for everything that “corporate America” affords us, but also feel like I have an “outside-in” point of view on the weaknesses that the more sterile corporate environment fosters
- Satisfaction that the skills I’ve gained through years of education could be applied to better the lives of others, and a clearer sense of philanthropic organizations and causes I’d like to support
What are the top lessons you have learned and/or things you have gained from your experience?
- Comfort in growth
- Gratefulness for everything that is afforded to us (one day I wrote down in my notebook, “Remember that everything in the States is easy.” For example, I have reliable and safe transportation to commute to work, and I have all the resources at work I need to do my job.)
- The importance of human connection, even with strangers
- The importance of disconnecting from work and the internet to allow yourself time to reflect and discover new thoughts – there isn’t quite as much time for this in my day-to-day life in the States.
(Thanks again to Tory Loebig and Doug Armstrong of West Monroe Partners for their time and insight. Please feel free to comment below, or join the conversation via our Facebook page. And as always, thanks for reading!)