This October, SAP Global Month of Service goes into its 15th round! Are you ready?
Kicking off the celebration early, we are proud to be sharing a selection of 15 inspiring volunteer experiences over the coming weeks leading up to the beginning of October.
SAP Global Month of Service, it is our company’s largest volunteer initiative. In 2018, employees volunteered in more than 900 projects in communities around the world. And it doesn’t stop with Month of Service! Our employees are leading meaningful volunteer events year-round, when and where the need arises.
This week, I had the pleasure to talk to Charlotte Bui – SAP’s very first Volunteer Ambassador. Charlotte has been taking part in and organizing volunteer events for more than 15 years and she has some great stories to share.
Charlotte, do you remember when you got started to volunteer with SAP? What sparked your interest?
I have always been interested in volunteering and I did volunteer work long before I started working at SAP. When I joined the company in 2004, I noticed that they had campaigns like the Month of Service! I got really excited that I had the opportunity to do an organized event through the company – and to see how this was a value to SAP as well – that was really important to me. I remember doing as many events as I could squeeze in that year!
And I still try to get involved as often as possible. I’m glad that we have extended our volunteer work beyond Month of Service, because there have been several years where I was on travel for most of October. Anytime my schedule allows – I volunteer.
As a Volunteer Ambassador, you also organize events yourself. Are there any events that stand out to you in particular?
I have always been very passionate about the improvement and support of schools and I really love working with children, so in my early years with SAP, I organized a Saturday enrichment program. For over a year, we had a partnership opportunity with IBM, so once a month, we would go into the city and work with 4th graders to bring a weekend program that kept the kids engaged and excited about STEM topics. My counterpart at IBM and I had developed the curriculum, and the kids really loved it. It helped keeping them busy, educate them and give them some mental enrichment beyond their school education, over the weekend.
I really loved doing this and still think back on it to this day.
You’ve been involved with Month of Service from the beginning – do you have a fun memory that you’d like to share with the readers?
Yes! I remember one event at a local school during my first Month of Service – that Bill McDermott volunteered at, too. That was very funny actually.
I was still pretty new at SAP and had no issues conversing with just about anyone – and I always believe that at volunteer events, there really is no hierarchy. We’re all there to help and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you sit in the organization – it’s about doing something meaningful together!
During that event, our aim was to paint the whole school in only a few hours. Everyone was quietly painting, and I decided to put my project management hat on and said ‘Guys, if you don’t mind – can we organize this a little bit? If we divide and conquer, we can get this done!’ – and everyone was totally onboard!
I turned to Bill, saying that he would need a paint brush and – because he’s very tall, and I am not – we could pair up and paint the wall together. He smiled and said: ‘Let’s do it!’
When we finished painting, and he left, one of my colleagues came up to me and said: I don’t think anybody has ever told Bill that he has to paint a wall’ – it was very funny! But he was so accommodating the whole time, laughing, painting and just getting the job done!
It really is the whole integrity behind our leadership team at SAP – everyone practices what they preach! You see them taking action, getting involved and helping out. That means a lot.
What is one thing you love about volunteering at SAP?
I am a very social person and I love the fact that you can work alongside someone, who has been with the company for 20 years but whom you’ve never met before. Through volunteering together, you can easily create new colleague-ships and friendships.
A lot of folks I’ve met early on are still very good friends of mine, because the relationships that you cultivate through doing something meaningful together, are just very special!
Thank you, Charlotte!
Picture: A volunteer event led by Charlotte at the Elmwood Zoo – You can spot her on the right side, wearing a black t-shirt