So, finally I am creating the blog entry to talk about my experience with EduBridge in Mumbai, India, during the month of April 2015 as part of SAP Social Sabbatical.
Who is EduBridge? is an organization that focuses on building employable skills in rural and semi-urban youth in India through quality training, and providing them with jobs and a livelihood upon training completion. Additionally, Edubridge trains college age youth to build employable skills and also provides corporate training to junior and mid-level staff at organizations and corporations all over the country.
EduBridge is an organization started by a group of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) alumni and professors in October 2009 and it is headquarted in Mumbai, India. It aims at furthering the government’s objective of developing employable skills among the youth and connecting them with job opportunities within Corporate India by connecting corporates with talent from semi-urban and rural areas and vice versa.
With this, it has partnered with and has been approved by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), an entity setup under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
I will write more about EduBridge and their work later.
Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and the Social Sabbatical program
But let's start from the beginning. What is the SAP Social Sabbatical? This program was launched in 2012, and it is "a unique short term assignment for SAP Top Talents who work in international, cross functional teams to solve business challenges for the entrepreneurial and education sector in emerging markets, while strengthening their leadership competencies, cross industry sector know-how and intercultural sensitivity". And I am using the " " because I am basically quoting the information from Alexandra van der Ploeg, from the Corporate Social Responsibility team at SAP, and in charge of the program management.
The vision of SAP is "Help the world run better and improve people's lives" and the Corporate Social Responsibility programs at SAP have the focus on equipping the world’s youth with skills to tackle society’s problems and thrive in the 21st century workforce. More specifically, with these two key areas:
- Building the capacity of innovative social enterprises that put young people on the path to successful (IT) careers
- Building a skilled workforce for the IT sector with training and workforce development programs
Back to the SAP Social Sabbatical, since this is getting very generic.Why did I end up in Mumbai? Well, there were many different locations worldwide for the SAP Social Sabbatical in 2014 / 2015. But given my many years working with customers, parters and colleagues from India, I thought it was time to get to know this country from a different perspective. So I was really lucky to be selected to be here!
Well, now we also need a bit more of background on the selection of the different projects.
Corporate Pro Bono programs and Global Engagement
In every location, SAP generally chooses 4 different projects for the enagement. This selection is performed by three main players: (1) the globlal team of SAP CSR, to ensure the adherence to the program priorities and strategic goals, (2) the local SAP CSR team, who know the situation in the country at best and (3) Pyxera Global, organization that is now celebrating 25 years of global engagement all over the world and SAP is partnering with within their "pro bono" program.
Members of the different teams assessed several companies and organizations in Mumbai, and four projects were selected.
Before moving forward, I would like to leave you with some interesting links that you might find interesting if you would like to go deeper in some of these topics:
- The growing popularity of pro bono, on how employees, non-profits and the enterprises benefit for this type of program.
- Article in the New Global Citizen from Deirdre White, CEO of PYXERA Global, in which I learnt about the wrong that can be done under the idea of "Development" and how important it is to have the focus on "Purposeful Global Engagement".
- Last but not least, a fantastic TED Talk from Ernesto Sirolli called "Want to help someone? Shut up and listen"... where you can learn how in the 70s, one of the best results of international development was (unplanned!) feeding of hippos, but not much more and the reasons why.
While reading some of these articles I could not help but remember some the words of Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador, in an interview with the Spanish journalist Jordi Evole in his program "Salvados" in December 2014 regarding the support that Ecuador receives from multinational corporations and how (for example) painting schools might not be the best use of the volunteers time and resources, since you can find enough workers in Ecuador that could do this.
Why did I join for the SAP Social Sabbatical?
Now that we have gone this far about the SAP CSR, Social Sabbatical, Global Engagement... it is time to share: why did I want to join? Because I imagine you might be thinking "it sounds great, but I am not sure if I would away from home for a month for this type of engagement...".
Well, here is my reason: I am a guy who believes that the P&L should not be the only motivation for a company to exist, neither should one get up every morning to go to work thinking only of their salary and bonus. In my opinion, it is everyone's responsability (companies of all sizes, governements of all levels, volunteers.... in general, people!) to help make the world become a better place.
So, along with my professional career, I have always been working in the areas of Diversity and CSR in different forms. Here are some examples:
- Working in the area of LGBT Diversity (for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender) since 2004! Some recent examples to highlight were "It Gets Better" global initiative from SAP in 2012, working with several German NGOs and my participation in an event hosted by the IE Business School in Madrid in 2014, joinlty with the US Ambassador to Spain.
- Being a volunteer manager for the Human Rights Conference of the World Outgames 2009 in Copenhagen.
- Being a mentor of a social start-up in Berlin as part of the Social Impact Lab program, sponsored by SAP, in 2013.
- Participating in the delivery of the "Increase your employability with SAP" program with the partner "Fundación Tomillo" in Madrid in 2014, to help unemployed people (big issue in the Spanish economy) rejoin the workforce with updated SAP skills, complementing their education and/or work experience.
I guess the combination of this type of experience, togehter with my international work experience in the area of consulting in different companies and countries (see my LinkedIn profile if interested), is what got the colleauges in Corporate Social Responsibility to accept my application.
As part of my cover letter introducing myself to the potential projects I wrote: "If you were to ask me about my preferred assignment, I would say working with an organization that focusses on integration of social minorities with activities related to education and training, communications and / or business planning and management."
And EduBridge could not have been a better match!
To be continued... with more information on EduBridge, the vocational training in India and my experience!