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Skills-Based Volunteering: The Next Generation of Business Leaders

Posted 09/09/2019 by Kimberlee Sinclair, Executive Director, H.B. Fuller Company Foundation

H.B. Fuller employees use their talents to help our company succeed – but they also want to use those same talents to make a positive impact in their communities. Skills-based volunteering leverages the specialized skills of volunteers to build infrastructure and capacity for nonprofits. Jacque Ince, a project manager at H.B. Fuller, spent a week this summer giving back to help students explore their future education and career opportunities.

Strong Nonprofit Partner

H.B. Fuller is proud to support BestPrep, a Minnesota nonprofit focused on preparing students with business, career, and financial literacy skills to inspire success in work and life. H.B. Fuller employees have participated in the eMentors online mentoring program and have shared their experience through presentations in local classrooms.

This summer, Jacque participated in BestPrep’s Minnesota Business Venture (MBV) program – a week-long business and career development summer camp where high school students can learn about business, leadership, financial literacy, and college and career options.

A Different Kind of Summer Camp

Over the course of a week, students participating in the MBV program work in small groups – their “companies” – to develop a product and create a business plan. Volunteers, like Jacque, serve as “Resident Business Leaders” to share their expertise and guide the students’ work.

Jacque worked with a group of 17 students who focused on a business plan for a new kind of medical device. During their MBV experience, the students learned about operations, finance and marketing, and were able to apply what they learned to their business plan. At the end of the week, each company made a pitch for investment in their business to a panel of volunteer judges.

Benefits of Volunteering

Jacque was approached to participate in MBV not just for the volunteerism aspect but also as an opportunity to develop his leadership skills. One of the benefits of skills-based volunteering is that in addition to providing valuable resources for nonprofits, employee volunteers are also able to take on new challenges and contribute to their personal development.

Jacque was able to help the students he worked with by drawing on his experience working at a global company, his specific skills as a project manager, and his understanding of operations and supply chain management. However, he learned just as much as he taught. Specifically, Jacque was surprised at how much he learned about workplace communication, especially communications with different generations of employees. He also strengthened his leadership skills by taking on challenges he wouldn’t encounter in his day-to-day work. In addition, Jacque was able to build his network with the other local professionals who volunteered at the camp. On the importance of volunteering, Jacque shared: “If you plan to be a leader of the next generation of the workforce, an experience like I had volunteering with these students is a great place to develop the skills you’ll need.”

Jacque’s experience is just one example of how H.B. Fuller employees are able to advance their own development while also supporting their communities using skills-based volunteering. For more stories of how our employees give back, follow #HBFullerCares on social media and visit www.hbfuller.com/community.

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