In celebration of National Volunteer Week, and to recognize some of our valued volunteers, Bankers without Borders® (BwB) launched a very special offering this week: our brand new “Chat with the CEO” sessions. These quarterly sessions are designed to provide BwB volunteers the opportunity to meet 'face-to-face' with Alex Counts, CEO and President of Grameen Foundation, to discuss their experiences.
Our very first session held on April 10, 2014 was a success on many fronts. As we gathered around the table, virtually of course, I could sense everyone’s excitement including my own. The volunteers who were invited to attend this first session were a small handpicked group of people, nominated by our BwB staff for their dedication and commitment. Beyond their impressive careers, these volunteers donate their time and skills in an effort to help alleviate poverty.
During the session the discussion weaved from Alex Counts to our volunteers and back. Sometimes some of the best ideas come from people who are not directly involved or invested in a project. Sometimes they even come from people who have no formal training in the discipline; but why? As Alex Counts explained, these people are not only able to see a problem with a fresh pair of eyes, but from an entirely different lens. That is partly why our volunteers are so important and why they have been so successful in their BwB projects. To continue to innovate we must continue to bring new perspectives into our work and allow others to point out what we may have overlooked.
As our volunteers shared their experiences it was clear that they were all invested in their projects and had spent a significant amount of time analyzing their results. To see our volunteers do this with no compensation, to see them do it simply for the idealism of it all, was truly inspirational. Seeing this idealism in our volunteers served as a reminder to Alex Counts of the idealism that got him in this business in the first place. It’s an idealism that most of us in the development sector share and one that keeps us focused on our mission.
I left today’s session with a sense of encouragement and motivation knowing that we not only have helped our clients become more efficient but have also touched the lives of our volunteers, helping them find meaning in their careers and in their personal lives. As one of our volunteers put it, “BwB is a slam-dunk way to be able to do that.”
Blog post written by Arcelia Gomez, Bankers without Borders Volunteer Relations Officer