Citizen Philanthropy in Action – Building Trust with Good Gigs Projects

At VMware, our strategic approach to giving is called Citizen Philanthropy. It is about empowering everyone to be active and engaged citizens in their communities because we believe social change only happens when many people choose to take action.

As part of VMware’s Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) strategy, our 2030 Agenda, VMware Citizen Philanthropists can contribute their time and talent, while leveraging company resources, to deliver long-term solutions to pressing social issues through Good Gigs Projects.

Through this program, teams of VMware people partner with nonprofits of their choice to identify the organizations’ needs and co-create solutions that help accelerate the nonprofits’ impact. Good Gigs was developed based on findings from Transforming Technology Pro Bono and is rooted in taking a customer-centric approach to pro bono Service Learning. Good Gigs Projects is a leadership development experience that helps participants develop a more effective, empathetic, creative, and customer-centric approach to their work at VMware. In every phase, participants will have the opportunity to practice their skills in recognizing bias, embracing discomfort, and recognizing a way forward.  

This month we checked in with Katherine Skilling, a Staff Consultant in Professional Services based in England, to learn more about how she got involved in community support through Good Gigs Projects:

Katherine Skilling: I have been working with an organization based in the USA called Folding@home (F@h). F@h brings together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers, including the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases. Insights from this data are helping scientists to better understand biology and providing new opportunities for developing remedies.

Our Good Gigs Project is focused on the creation of a test environment to reduce the risk associated with the application code release process and enabling F@h to develop and test code in a dedicated environment. The new test environment will provide a platform where such toolsets can be run in a proof-of-concept manner, allowing different options to be evaluated in the future without risk to the live infrastructure. We are also looking at ways we can resolve some of their other infrastructure-related pain points by assisting with Observability and Automation-related tools and processes.

We needed that trust to be established so that they could feel safe telling us what they needed most and for us to agree on the best focus for the project.” – Katherine Skilling, Staff Consultant, Professional Services

One thing that stands out from this experience, is the importance of establishing trust at an early stage. On our Good Gigs project, we committed a lot of time at the start and uncovered many areas we felt we could offer assistance to the organization. We needed that trust to be established so that they could feel safe telling us what they needed most and for us to agree on the best focus for the project. We needed to show them that we could deliver on what we were saying and were going to be around to support them, not just to make a donation and move on.

This applies to my role in Professional Services when interacting with customers. The relationship is slightly different as it’s set around a commercial agreement, however, if you can form that trust during the early meetings it establishes a strong foundation for the rest of the project. The customer will be more comfortable telling you when something isn’t right or discussing future work opportunities with you. Overall, it leads to better project delivery and more satisfied customers.

[Solution Development Framework photo / suggested caption: Findings from Transforming Technology Pro Bono serves as the theoretical framework for Good Gigs Projects]

My favorite part about the project has been working with an amazing team of people from across VMware. Our Good Gigs project team is made up of five core team members across different geographies and different parts of the VMware business. I had the opportunity to learn new technical and personal skills throughout the project by working with each of them. Each person brought a different perspective and skill set to the team and, no matter how senior they are within the company, they were all so passionate about helping the organization and willing to pick up any task to help the team reach our goals.

I am very proud of the impact I am able to make in helping other people using the skills I have learned during my career. Having started as a trainee with no experience in a desktop support role, I never dreamed I would be in a senior consultancy role for a company like VMware, working with some of the largest customers in EMEA. To be able to give back and pay it forward simply by sharing my experience with others is very rewarding and something I am proud of.

Read more stories about VMware’s Citizen Philanthropists here.


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