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Personal and Partner Commitments Change Lives Through Technology

For partners trying to keep up with the high-pressure, day-to-day obligations of running the business, the good intentions of giving back to their community too often go unrealized.

Putting intent into action takes commitment from individuals, as well as support from partner leadership. But when those ingredients come together, partners can have a real impact on the lives of those in need.

Well-known to many in the Microsoft partner community though his lively presentations at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) and other Microsoft events, Dux Raymond Sy, PMP and chief technology officer of AvePoint Inc., plays a different role for an audience half a world away. In December, Sy traveled to Kampala, Uganda, to kick off a long-term partnership helping young people build the digital skills that will allow them to participate in the tech revolution.

"I support a lot of charities and nonprofits -- it's just something I do with my family. In May 2016, a member of my church reached out to me about the school and orphanage we support," said Sy, who is also a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP. "The school essentially takes in street kids or just orphans, and they live there, they grow up there and they go to school there. There's about 1,800 kids there at any point in time."

The church was looking to Sy's professional experience to help design and implement a technology program that would better prepare kids for success after school. "It's not like these kids can afford to go to college, and their skills are not competitive," explained Sy. "Working with a couple of people, we raised funds to build a computer lab which we built when we were there. We put together a curriculum around cloud and Web, with the plan to train the trainer. We were looking to build an ongoing program."

Since his two weeks on site, Sy has continued to work with students he mentored as they keep the training program moving forward. The organizing team continues to add software access through the nonprofit licensing group TechSoup and promote Web-based training through Pluralsight.

"My next step is trying to figure out how to set up a virtual internship program. It's one thing that these kids learn, but the other thing is how can they get experience and practice?" said Sy. "I'm trying to figure out [how] we can tap into this big Microsoft partner network. Is there a possibility to do a virtual internship program, for example. Because over there, there's really not many partners we can connect these kids with."

Sy is not the only AvePoint employee to spend time and energy giving back to the community. Across the company's global offices, concerned employees are making a difference. "In Jersey City, for instance, there's a Salvation Army daycare after-school program held at least once a quarter. We send folks out there to help students with their homework and more," said Franklin Teagle, director of communications for AvePoint. "Other causes, like soup kitchens in Australia, are how our teams around the world spend time volunteering to help out the community."

In response to these employee volunteer efforts, AvePoint has begun to take steps to formalize and expand its support of community enrichment work. "In a big, global and diverse organization like ours, you have all kinds of people interested in all different types of causes that are near and dear to their hearts," explained Teagle. "In addition to the outreach events we're doing in groups across the different offices, individuals have the opportunity once per quarter to use paid time-off hours to go and volunteer with a cause that is important to them. It's important to us as a company, and it's important to our employees to be able to have that time to contribute to the causes that resonate with them."

The recently launched AvePoint Philanthropy site describes the three pillars of the company's mission to impact humanity and drive change through technology, community and education. "We give away our technology to qualified nonprofits through TechSoup," explained Sy. "We provide education similar to what I did but on a regular basis or through different teams around the world. We do hour of code, at the very least. And we support our community."

Like many people who immerse themselves in another culture and share their knowledge, Sy learned far more than expected through his Uganda experience. His blog post, "Five Inspiring Lessons I Learned About Life (and Business) from Teaching in Uganda," is an eye-opening read.

"I think every partner, no matter how large or how small, can think in terms of how we're now in a world where everybody's connected. Especially as representatives of technology, the great enabler, that allows us to build our own businesses and careers and opportunities," said Sy. "Technology is also a great enabler for other people. We have the capacity to teach people how to use technology as a way for them to progress and improve their lives."

Working together, partner leaders and employees can make good on their intentions to give back to the community and advance the lives of others. Isn't it time to take those next steps to identify the causes that connect with your team and commit to get involved?

How are you giving back to the community? Send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 09, 2017 at 8:05 AM