How are you working with your team or network to give back to your community, or support important causes?

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CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
When India had the second wave of COVID, I was in my office in California wondering what I could do to help people over there. I have a great network, so I started calling up my classmates from Harvard Business School. Within 24 hours we had raised close to $5M. We were able to source 562 ventilators, charter a flight from New York and get it landed in New Delhi to deliver the ventilators. We found contacts with Harvard Medical School doctors who were Indians working in India, so we knew that we were giving the equipment to actual people whom we trusted through our network, even though we had never met. We set up that whole supply chain and reached out to the CEO of DHL, who is also an HBS alum, so we got the planes for free. I’d never met those people before and I haven't met them since, but in a week we had provided 564 ventilators, with each ventilator costing around $60K. And it was only a matter of calling someone and saying, “I think I want to do this. Can you help?” If you're able to articulate what you want to do, people will help. If you call up and say, “What can we do to help people in India?” then people will just say, “Oh, I don't know.”
3 Replies
Global CIO & CISO in Manufacturing, 201 - 500 employees

You're a connector. You have the network that enables you to pull these things together to build beautiful solutions. That's incredible. Being able to motivate people and give them a purpose and a cause that they can put their heart into is huge.

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

What I learned from that was if you have a very specific ask and explain how this ask will meet a specific need, people will get on board. If I called up someone from HBS and said, “We should do something about COVID in India, can you give me $50K?” then she's going to slam the phone down. But if I say, “I don't need $50K, but do you know anyone at DHL who can get this ventilator for me for free, without me paying anything extra?” Even if they don't know anyone, they might know someone who knows someone. That's how you get things started.

Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees

If the ask is not specific, it becomes an armchair suggestion; it doesn't become actionable. We did something similar at the time, but with oxygen cylinders. We sent a package of oxygen cylinders, which are especially needed in places like assisted living facilities.

I like your approach because you are asking for help on behalf of other people. You're not asking for help for yourself. There's a big difference there because you are giving while also trying to enable others to give. That's a technique that I want to emphasize.

Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees
As leaders we should promote making time to do things that focus on a higher purpose. Having a clear plan makes a difference. When you have a plan, you know what you want to do and who you are trying to target, it's like a market campaign. It’s literally a product launch. The product is providing quality of life or quality of service to humans, and your market is the people who are suffering.

At least for some of the emerging leaders, we should encourage them to think about these things using a product-based approach. The product varies. But as long as you know the purpose and the goal, the asks become much clearer and unambiguous, which makes it easier to act upon. Keeping things up in the air or walking on eggshells doesn't help anyone, especially in critical situations.
1 1 Reply
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

When India was going through its second wave of COVID, I joined a call with the CFO and the CEO and they saw dark circles under my eyes. When they asked about it I explained that I hadn’t slept because I’d been working on sending help for the past 24 hours. They said, “Get off the phone and clear your calendar for the rest of the week. We'll take care of everything else.” As leaders, we should be able to support these kinds of tasks. The culture of empathy needs to start from the top and go all the way down. Gen Z folks care about the bigger impact that the company is making. That's why most companies now have their corporate social responsibility (CSR) or environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals so prominently featured; it's a must have for them.

VP, Information Technology in Healthcare and Biotech, 10,001+ employees
Our organization (Easterseals UCP NC and VA) is an important cause.  Our organization provides community based mental health services for adults and children with special needs In NOrth Carolina and Virginia.  My IT Team provides technical support to our font line workers to ensure that they can provide the MH Services that our clients need.
In addition, we work with a another local non-profit to donate old laptops to them to refurbish and deliver to people in need in the community.  They also in return provide us back 10% of the devices that deliver to our at risk clients.  It is a great symbiotic relationship.

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