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4 Years ago, I was assigned to take over as the account executive for DTE Energy, a large investor owned utility in the Fortune 500, which serves the metropolitan Detroit area. I had visions of Detroit before I stepped off the plane for the first time. I imagined this dark, desolate and poor city. I imagined hopelessness, and despair. In my mind, I saw what the news media often portrays. I was wrong.

Now yes, Detroit is a city that has faced hardship, and very challenging economic turmoil, but I have seen so much innovation, so much hope, so much beauty. Being a Baltimore boy myself, I could relate for sure with the challenges I thought Detroit was facing, I was prepared for it, but it turned out my fears were misplaced.

SAP’s CSR team had set up a charity event at Gleaners Food Bank in Detroit. This noble charity serves as the main food aggregator and distributor for over 500 emergency shelters, church pantries, and food kitchens. They even deliver bags of groceries to students in some of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods as they walked home from school. I went once, and vowed to come back every year. I spent a day serving those who most needed it. It was a wonderful feeling.

The following year, it occurred to me that my client, DTE Energy, is also quite keen to serve the neighborhood. Perhaps I could invite my client to join us as we volunteered at Gleaners? Perhaps I could encourage my VAT team to join us? It was a beautiful thing, and now that we are about to do it together for the third year in a row, I think it is becoming a tradition. My client looks forward to it, and the leadership at DTE Energy see that SAP cares about the same community they care about.

Since the first time, we have grown in our approach to participation we are now inviting members of the partner community. Opentext, Accenture, and IBM have all shown up to help serve at the Gleaners Food Bank. We have come together as the professional community that we are, to serve the resident community that needs us.

What makes this all possible is working at SAP, where my desire to serve others is fully supported, not just by word but in deed, as the CSR team put the structure and administration in place to make it easy for a field guy like myself to optimize the way SAP delivers value.

I am still a Baltimore boy, but I have come to love Detroit. I now think the best pizza in the world can be found in Detroit. I see lots of smiles, I see hope, and it is cool to be a part of the community doing something to further enable that. If any SAP employee wants to try some of the best pizza on earth? Email me. I will send you to a hole in the wall pizzeria that makes heavenly pies. Maybe you could volunteer with us too?

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  1. Rachel Serrano

    Great post Jimmy! Thank you for inspiring the utilities team and teach us that an important part of living a happy and fulfilling life includes being part of a close-knit community where you can share, help and support others. Looking forward to joining you and the DTE Energy team Friday.

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