Compassion in Leadership…Know Thyself

by Wanda Barquin

Like some of you, I took for granted that I would be successful in whatever I chose to do. With a good education, a good work ethic, and several languages under my belt — or should I say skirt? — I grew up confident and vain.

I didn’t count on the sobering discipline and enormous amount of faith required to achieve and sustain success, while tackling some seemingly insurmountable challenges. I had to learn the hard way my life’s lessons and exercise humility.

I would like to share with you where my road‎ was heading after I faced a serious health scare, how someone else’s tragedy profoundly altered my personal GPS for the better, and four recommendations for dealing with trying times.

On December 25, 2010, I suddenly collapsed on the floor and was resuscitated at the doorsteps of my Washington, D.C. apartment. The good news is that I became part of the ten percent who statistically come back from the dead after being worked on by trained medics.

After waking up at the hospital, I was shocked and perturbed when I learned that I had been resuscitated on Christmas Day. I was afraid that had I been spared for some reason, I had no idea of my life purpose. The unknown made me felt lost and fearful.

The bad news was that I was not heading straight for Heaven and God knew that I like hot weather, but not THAT hot! And so began my spiritual journey.

Until then, I had lived for decades under the wrong impression that my life was supposed to be a heavenly, joyous ride all the way to Heaven. Boy, did I have a rude awakening…

I became even more upset four years later, when I learned that a former colleague of mine* had taken his own life. ‎He had courageously fought harassment and bullying at work and the ensuing depression.

As we all know, power in the workplace is a complex issue and many inconsiderate acts are committed in the name of expediency. When management’s decisions are poorly executed or lack compassion, it can devastate people’s lives. My colleague was let go a few weeks before he completed his 20 years with the organization, and could not collect a pension until much later. He was abruptly escorted out of his office without having a chance to say good-bye to his long-time peers. This gratuitous humiliation compounded his pain. Unemployed, ‎he later despaired.

My friend’s beautiful French didn’t serve him well when he saw a “detour” on his road. He could only perceive a precipice at the end of a tunnel, and decided to put on the brakes on his own terms.

He was found dead, listening to his favorite music at 48 years of age. His untimely death robbed us all of a gentle soul, with a perennial smile and never-ending wit. The impact of his life on my own has been immeasurable. He became my inspiration and I had to change the road I was taking, and the way I was driving. His premature departure signaled to me that he had apparently given in, let go and, by some human measures, did not succeed. However, he taught me three posthumous lessons:

  • Fear Not! Pope, now Saint, JPII’s “do not be afraid” phrase started to resonate continuously on my mind. I returned home to the Catholic Church. I think that my friend had stopped trusting his celestial co-pilot.**
  • Know Thyself. To go from “self” to “others” you need to know yourself. I set out to become gentler, like he was. I decided to devote more time to fight violence against the most vulnerable in our society.
  • ‎Be tolerant. I exercise more patience with my and other people’s shortcomings.

We all make mistakes, but we rarely take the time to examine our conscience or make reparations. My four recommendations when faced with fears of failure are:

1) Trust God’s mercy, grace, and the talents within you.

2) Remember that instability is what brings to our human experience the gifts of “creativity, art, and competition.”***

3) Be compassionate with yourself and others.

4) Put your creativity to work for those in distress or in greater need than you!****

If you wish to put your gifts to work in honor of someone starting today, consider contributing to one of the organizations supported by #GivingTuesday. Henry Timms launched the first #Giving Tuesday campaign four years ago, right after Thanksgiving Day. Since then, #GivingTuesday has been growing globally. It is now working with the U.N. Development ProgramTechSoup Global, and other international networks to celebrate local heroes and engage communities around the world.

You can make the commitment to review ‎your map, think of alternative routes, change your means of transportation, and set your GPS to new heights if your destination reads “Others.”

For the next 365 days be generous with your time, talent, or pocket change. Just choose your preferred cause. Together, we can do some awesome social good by joining #GivingTuesday activities!

Best, Wanda

*In memoriam of JG

**Ignatian Spirituality

***Wilson, E.O., November 25, 2014, “E.O. Wilson‎: E.T. Is Out There and He/She probably Looks Like This.”

****‎”Strive for More

Images courtesy by

This article originally appeared as part of LinkedIn’s #RoadNotTaken series.

Part 3, The CSR Career Path: Laura Faulkner

by Hilary Connelly

Continuing from my first and second posts, I’m sharing the story of my year-long journey researching the CSR career path and the interviews with top CSR practitioners I met along the way. The second interview and career profile is with Laura Faulkner, Communications Manager of the Hitachi Foundation. An independently run nonprofit founded by Hitachi Ltd., the Hitachi Foundation exists to improve economic opportunities for low-wealth individuals in the U.S.

laura headshotName: Laura Faulkner

Title: Strategic Communications Manager, Hitachi Foundation

Graduate Education: Master of Public Administration | Clark University

Previous Positions

  • Communications Fellow | The Hitachi Foundation
  • Research Associate | Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise
  • Project Coordinator | Next Generation Science Exemplar System
  • Fiscal Policy Analyst | Economic Progress Institute
  • Policy Analyst | Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council
  • Research Assistant | Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise

Laura’s Role

Laura’s role as a communications manager with the Hitachi Foundation is to highlight business practices that create pathways of economic mobility for low-wage workers. Using various communications tools, she makes the business case for investing in lower-wage workers as well as shares the work of entrepreneurial ventures that address social issues.

How She Got There

While studying political science during her undergrad at Clark University, Laura said,

“I was interested in learning about public/private partnerships and how they could work together to make an impact in the community.”

Eagerly wanting to discover more about social entrepreneurship, she took a few classes during which they discussed CSR – a term that was becoming increasingly popular back in 2007-2008. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration, although she says, “I was always focused on gaining knowledge on how to bring these two groups together to benefit causes I was passionate about.”

Although her focus wasn’t on communications in school, she said, “the skills I learned in my graduate program such as organizational theory, leadership and behavior change are definitely transferrable to the communications field.”

After graduating, she worked as a policy analyst focusing on state-level public policy issues and found herself gravitating towards communicating the research findings in a compelling and meaningful way. She also volunteered at a local nonprofit, Heads Up Rhode Island, where she started taking on communications and marketing projects to help them promote their community programs.

Meanwhile back at her policy job, she explained,

“I became increasingly interested in storytelling and in explaining why the numbers I crunched were meaningful to the audience that was impacted by them.”

A few years later, Laura had the opportunity to make a career change when her longtime boyfriend was moving to DC. She reconnected with a Clark University trustee who she met as an undergrad at a networking event. Although it was years later, Laura called her now boss at the Hitachi Foundation and told her she was moving to DC. Fortunately, Laura had left an impression on her back when she shared her passion of helping companies create good jobs and her interest in public/private partnerships and was hired. 

Must Have Skills

  • Emotional intelligence in a work environment and the ability to read other people when they respond to a situation and then find the best approach to address them.
  • Creatively sharing data through videos, photos, infographics, and other compelling visuals when telling an organization’s story.
  • Concise writing and being able to say what you need to say in as few as words as possible.

Career Highlight

Being able to work on projects that foster economic mobility and create high quality jobs- both issues she became aware of while watching her mother transition back into the workforce after having kids.

“When I got my first job in high school, I saw the freedom and independence that having a job provides,” she said. “Now, I get to create opportunities for others to do meaningful work that not only provides financial stability, but a sense of pride in what they do.”

Laura’s Advice

  • Be yourself – Try and relax in an interview and be who you truly are and if they want you great – if not, that’s ok too. Have confidence in yourself.
  • Find a company in line with your values – Wait for the right job if you can, don’t just take anything. Find a job where someone really wants you and you want them.
  • Be excited – During an interview, show your excitement about the job and say you really want it. In the final round that will make a difference.
  • Get over your fears – Find companies you’re really excited about and then reach out to the executives or someone who has a specific role similar to the one you want and then do informational interviews. The worst thing that will happen is they will say ‘no’ or not answer. It’s very telling of people who will talk to you – this could be someone you want to work for who’s open to giving advice and mentoring others.

Potential Challenges

In the future, Laura hopes even more companies and nonprofit organizations will collaborate with each other to solve social problems. She believes they can do so much more collectively than by themselves, but the challenge as a communicator will be crafting a common message and being on the same page about what they’re trying to achieve and how best to tell the story.

Being a Great Company Means Being a Good Steward in Your Community

Glassdoor’s Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility

by Kim Thomson

glassdoor 2014-11-05 (16-31-35)While it’s safe to say most employees would like to work toward a mission that makes a difference in the world or community it’s not feasible for everyone. In today’s marketplace, those who are interested in making a difference are faced with making the difficult choice between choosing a profession that’s function makes us feel good or one that provides for a specific lifestyle. Some companies are making it possible for their employees to straddle both worlds by giving back to their communities through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, one such company is Glassdoor. I sat down with Glassdoor’s Associate Director of Communications, Scott Dobroski, and Glassdoor’s CSR program co-founder, Danny MacDonough, to discuss how and why Glassdoor has engaged their community.

glassdoor 2013-05-22 (18-13-53) Glassdoor’s CSR program, CommunityDoor, really got started in a very Grassroots way when a few employees decided to help a colleague, who had survived cancer, raise money for a charity bike ride. Their fundraising efforts, primarily made through internal announcements via email and mentions during all-hands meetings, were successful. It was at that point where Danny MacDonough and Scott Hanna realized their efforts to help their coworker with his fundraising goal could turn into something much bigger and teamed up to incorporate volunteerism formally at Glassdoor. It was no surprise to MacDonough & Hanna that they received full support from the C-level at Glassdoor, as “at least one of our executives attends each event,” commented MacDonough. “They are our biggest cheerleaders.”

“Our CEO, Robert Hohman, has often said that ‘being a great company means being a good steward in the community’,” added Dobroski “and there are studies that back that up. Companies who give back are also more productive and efficient.”

What may be even more interesting is the emergence of companies, like Glassdoor, that fully incorporate a mission to make a social impact in to the company’s business objectives. Many companies will say ‘giving back’ is one of their core values and attest its necessity to their business. When all is said and done that goal is far too often overshadowed by the ‘daily grind’. Glassdoor’s focus is more genuine, not just stating that service is at the core of their values but actually ensuring that call to serve others is a real part of their employees’ day to day focus. Through the utilization of their CSR program and in the way they communicate their business objectives, Glassdoor is very clear on their commitment to the community. “Glassdoor is a mission driven company,” explains Dobroski “our goal as a company is to help people. There’s nothing wrong with being an ecommerce site or a retail corporation, but Glassdoor literally impacts communities, business and local economies worldwide. If everyone had a job they love then the world would be a better place. Whether it is helping people find jobs and companies they love or realizing their fair market value for the work they do, we’re out there making a difference in the lives of those individuals. CommunityDoor is an extension of our mission and it really drives home our core values as a company”.

glassdoor 2013-05-22 (18-14-26)Today, CommunityDoor operates with a goal of organizing at least one community based activity per quarter. Their activities have varied in size and scope from organizing a trip to the Boys & Girls Club, hosting sessions to discuss job hunting techniques, and volunteering at a youth book drive. Most notably, CommunityDoor invited local middle school and junior high students to come into the Glassdoor office and sit with the engineering team to learn coding techniques. It’s safe to say they’ve found their groove when it comes to giving back.

About Glassdoor: Glassdoor allows job seekers to go online and search for companies, salaries, company reviews, interview questions, search for and apply to jobs for free all in one spot.

Part 2, The CSR Career Path: Shondra Jenkins

How a year of career research and a lot of soul searching led me to my dream job promoting social change

by Hilary Connelly

As I discussed in my first blog post, I’m sharing my yearlong journey of Corporate Social Responsibility career research and interviews with top CSR practitioners that I met along the way. The first interview and career profile is of Shondra Jenkins, the Director of Community Relations at Sodexo, the worldwide leader in Quality of Life Services headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Shondra JenkinsName: Shondra Jenkins

Title: Director of Community Relations, Sodexo and Executive Director, Sodexo Foundation

Previous Positions

  • Board Member | Manna Food Center
  • Senior Manager, Community Relations | Sodexo
  • Manager, Community Relations | Sodexo
  • eCommunications Manager | Sodexo

Shondra’s Role

As the Director of Community Relations, Shondra leads Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Initiative in addition to contributing to the company’s foundation, which has contributed $25 million to hunger-related activities in the United States.

“So much of our role is telling stories and communicating issues on the forefront of fighting hunger, including food waste, food donations and fundraising.”

She is also responsible for a lot of program management tasks around implementing, managing, and evaluating employee engagement campaigns around Sodexo’s commitment to fight hunger. 

How She Got There

Shondra started with Sodexo in 2000 in the communications department leading all electronic communications around voicemail, email, intranet, and the website. “It wasn’t the right long-term fit for me, but when I joined Sodexo, I learned about the company’s employee engagement efforts around fighting hunger in local communities where we live and work and quickly became excited about how the company was engaging employees around the issue.” Shortly after Shondra joined Sodexo, a position opened up to lead these efforts for Sodexo in the U.S. and she’s been in the community relations function for 12 years. 

Must Have Skills

  • “Being business savvy and having the same competencies as any business leader because of the profession’s increasing focus on measurement and ROI.”
  • “The ability to develop relationships and expand your web of influence by networking is crucial for the role.”
  • “Strong communication skills and developing the in-person and verbal communication skills, which are sometimes harder to come by.”

Career Highlight

Shondra is especially proud of the work Sodexo has been doing with the Food Recovery Network. “I’m excited about our alignment with hunger and youth engagement and our CSR efforts on decreasing landfill waste.” Over the past two years, Sodexo Foundation has supported Food Recovery Network’s work with colleges and students on campus who go to their dining hall and rescue surplus food, which is then redirected from landfills to feed hungry neighbors.

“Two years ago there were only 22 chapters and now there are more than 110 college chapters. It’s been really fun to get in at the early stages of this new nonprofit and see this movement in engaging young people in the fight against hunger really blossom.”

Shondra’s Advice

  • Get connected to causes or nonprofits, whether it’s through volunteerism or other pro bono services. “Having that experience and network of supporters is a great balance and will really open up doors as you’re looking to transition into the profession. It shows you’re passionate about something and you’re walking the walk.”
  • Talk to people in the field through informational interviews and getting down to understanding what you really want to do. You never know when an opportunity will open up.”
  • Stay current with information and trends through online trainings and webinars. Also stay connected to the issues you’re interested in and converse on different platforms so you’re viewed as a subject matter expert.” There are two publications she recommends: The Cause Marketing Forum and the Cone Communications weekly newsletter that discusses various issues and CSR topics.

Potential Challenges

“As CSR professionals, we’re being asked to do so much more with the same or decreasing funds, which can be a real challenge.”

Shondra also shared the challenge she faces in getting through the communications clutter. “There are so many things our company communicates [to its employees] on a daily basis and it’s a huge challenge for us to come in and tell our departments, ‘Oh by the way, when you have a free moment, we want you to give back to your local community.’”

“Getting the commitment from them can be a challenge because it’s difficult to carve out time to go to the local food bank when they already have so much to do businesswise.”

Part 1, The CSR Career Path

How a year of career research and a lot of soul searching led me to my dream job promoting social change

by Hilary Connelly

When I set out to research careers in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) early last year, I was intrigued by the prospect of being able to work for a prestigious organization that had the funds and the operating ability to greatly contribute to and impact the global community. As a communicator, I had previously worked with both nonprofits and large corporate brands, but I had not yet combined my interest in telling an organization’s story while also getting to make a difference in the lives of others.

Shortly after graduating from the PR/Corporate Communications program in 2014, I decided I wanted to learn more about the role of a CSR practitioner and what it took to enter the field. I knew that if I was able to speak directly with people working in the field, I would be able to get a sense of whether or not this was the right direction for my career path. I reached out to Georgetown’s Center for Social Impact Communication and they helped me strategize about whom I should interview and the questions to ask. While I was undertaking this CSR careers research project, I was also looking for a job – not just any job, but a job that would truly make me feel like I was making a contribution and using my talents for the greater good. It was definitely a time of personal reflection, and I was terrified to make a wrong move and take a job that I didn’t feel passionate about.

When I told people I was looking for a job in CSR, many people responded, “Oh, that’s a really tough field to get into. Most people transfer within an organization to get that job and stay there for a long time.” But I wasn’t discouraged, I knew if CSR was the right path for me, and that if I listened to my intuition, I would find the right opportunity. That led me to almost a year of job searching and interviews with over 20 organizations. I began to wonder if I’d ever find the right fit. Informational interviews led to more informational interviews and so many generous people gave me their time to talk about their career journey.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing these interviews and the career profiles of several people who work or have worked in the field of CSR, including Shondra Jenkins of Sodexo, Laura Faulkner of the Hitachi Foundation, and Lauren Weinstein Lauren Weinstein, career coach and international consultant with Coachable LLC and More than Money Careers. Others who have contributed to my research include Mary Fehlig, The Fehlig Group, Jeanne Simon, Accenture and Julie Dixon, Former Director, Georgetown Center for Social Impact Communications.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

I’ve decided to share my story with you because I know firsthand the struggle of finding a job you love and the great effort it takes to land in the perfect spot. I can tell you, I now have my dream job as a marketer and communicator contributing to the social good, but it is definitely not what I ever thought I’d be doing. I’ll talk more about what led me to this role in the coming weeks, but for anyone out there who is currently searching for their dream job, my advice is to be open to opportunities that might seem uncomfortable at first and follow your heart and intuition – for they will lead you to where you are truly meant to be. 

To be continued…