New CSR Volunteer Program

The final countdown to the 2016 Olympic Games is on – there are less than 80 days remaining until the Opening Ceremonies, and people around the world are working tirelessly to ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. As the Official Networking Provider of the Games, Cisco has an important role to play in making this the most connected Games ever. However, that is only part of the goal – Cisco is equally as dedicated to leaving a lasting impact in Brazil that goes far beyond the four weeks of the Games. Through numerous social and urban innovation projects, we are working to transform Rio into a smarter and more connected city, both now and in the future.

And a large part of that endeavor comes from our biggest asset as a company – our employees. In February, the Global Sponsorship team together with Cisco CSR piloted a brand new initiative to get global employees involved in the Olympic legacy work the company is doing in Brazil, led by Alex Rosen, Gilberto Cabral, Daniel Coslovsky and Deborah Chamovitz.

The CSR Volunteer Program virtually connects employee volunteers around the world with students and instructors of the NetAcademy and Community Centers in Rio for half hour-long sessions on various topics over TelePresence. Thus far, there have been a total of 18 sessions with 20 employee volunteers from four different countries and more than 600 students. And that is just the beginning. Thanks to overwhelmingly positive responses from both the employee volunteers and the students, the program continues to grow and expand to include more volunteers and more sessions.

Through the power of Cisco technology, the CSR Volunteer Program aims to help NetAcademy students and instructors learn from the Cisco employee volunteers, who are part of the Sponsorship Ambassador Program, while practicing their English skills, building relationships and having fun. And we’ve seen so far that the benefits go both ways – the Cisco employees have enjoyed the experiences as much as the students, as it gives employees around the world an opportunity to be a part of Cisco’s Olympic sponsorship platform.

As part of the CSR Technical Program sessions, Cisco employees who either hold or are working towards a CCNA certification are connected with NetAcademy instructors in Rio who are currently working towards the certification themselves. The employees share their own experience, provide tips and advice, and answer questions about any number of topics. One of the first volunteers was Alan Groom – a 19-year-old Cisco intern in London who is currently working towards his own CCNA certification.

“For me personally the fact that myself and the students that were involved are all studying towards the CCNA certification, meant that we would be able to share our experience and methods of study to one another,” Alan says of the experience. “It’s just one of the amazing characteristics of working for an international company, and working together as one to achieve the same end goal.”

The response from the students in Rio has been equally as positive.

“This is such a great opportunity for our students,” said Fernando, a NetAcademy instructor who took part in the session with Alan. “They never get to talk to global Cisco employees. They are going to get really excited about it.”

“Just loved to get to know more about somebody at Cisco and to see that he is just like me, in love with technology," said one student.

“I had the impression the volunteer was across from me behind a glass!” said another.

With such positive feedback from all parties, the CSR Volunteer Program will continue to grow as the Games draw closer. Learn more about all of Cisco’s CSR initiatives.