Create Change, Be Changed: Reflections from an SAP Pro Bono Consulting Team

Alexandra Nemeth

Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Storytelling at MovingWorlds

Meet Jaime Martin Ko Atilano and Mallory Rioux: two rising leaders at SAP who aren’t content to sit on the sidelines waiting for a more equitable world — instead, they take an active role in building it. 

That drive to make the world a better place is exactly what the corporate sector needs to truly transform business into a force for good, and forward-thinking companies like SAP are increasingly investing in programs to nurture that passion across their employee bases.

In partnership with MovingWorlds, SAP’s Acceleration Collective gives employees the opportunity to work directly with social entrepreneurs around the world who are pioneering a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable way of doing business. 

As you’ll see in this story, these cross-sector engagements drive real triple-bottom-line impact for employee volunteers, the innovative entrepreneurs they support, and SAP’s culture as a whole. Learn more about Jaime and Mallory’s experience below!

A Stretch Experience at the Intersection of Business and Purpose

Both Jaime and Mallory saw the Acceleration Collective as a unique opportunity to combine business and purpose in a new way. “I’d never had the opportunity to do something like this before,” Jaime shared, “where I could tap into my passion for creating positive social change using the skills I have developed during my time at SAP.” Similarly, Mallory shared that, “It was such a unique opportunity to get involved with something I really care about through work – learn something new, meet new people, and make a difference with the skills I’m developing in the SAP Academy for Customer Success.”

Having never worked with a social entrepreneur before, they were equal parts scared and excited. Mallory reflected, “When opportunities like this come up, a lot of people (and women in particular) assume they are not qualified enough, or don’t have enough experience. When there’s a fear of failure, it can feel safer not to try. I went into this not knowing everything, but was able to rise to the challenge leaning on my transferable skills. That’s one of the biggest takeaways for me: even if you’re afraid, start imperfectly and let it be messy at first. Don’t let that fear stop you from trying at all.”

Through the TRANSFORM Support Hub platform, Jaime and Mallory found the perfect social enterprise match in Alexa Goodman Consulting. Founded by scientist and intersectional environmental activist Alexa Goodman, Goodman Consulting is an independent firm that provides services in environmental education, science communication, professional development training, DEI, and team building. 

To bring these services to even more clients, Alexa needed support growing Goodman Consulting’s brand presence online, specifically in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) for its website. With their backgrounds in technology, brand building, and customer success, Jaime and Mallory were perfectly positioned to help Alexa take her business to the next level.

Building on Existing Skills…

Skills they had been honing in the Academy, like active listening and building a deep sense of empathy with clients, provided a solid foundation to begin their work together. “We kicked off the project with a series of scoping calls,” Jaime shared, “to really understand who Alexa is, why they started this business, and where they want to see it going in the future.” 

With an average NPS score of 80, SAP employees who support social enterprises through the TRANSFORM Support Hub report that the experience has opened their eyes to different issues impacting their industries, and allowed them to gain new insights from the innovators on the front lines that shift their perspectives in their own full-time roles. That was certainly true in this case, as well.

“It was really refreshing to learn about a different type of work that is supporting social good and change. Alexa has always been interested in marine biology, and as someone who identifies as neurodivergent, they are passionate about showcasing work in diversity and equity within the space of environmental activism” Jaime shared. He added, “As a one-person team, most of Alexa’s time is spent on strategic work, without a lot of bandwidth left over for marketing. That context was key to ensuring the solution we delivered was practical, actionable, and tailored to Alexa’s long-term goals and day-to-day realities.” 

The discovery process also showed Jaime and Mallory just how valuable and transferable their existing skills were, even in this new context. “Our job as customer success professionals is to make sure people who implement a new technology solution are happy with it, and that it’s working for them. That same skill set absolutely carried over in this case” Mallory reflected.

With a better understanding of Goodman Consulting’s long-term vision for marketing and branding, the group broke the project down into 3 short-term goals:

  1. Optimizing the website for SEO to drive organic traffic
  2. Developing a plan to continue growing brand presence through social media
  3. Enabling measurement of the results through website analytics

With the goals in place, Jaime and Mallory dove into developing a step-by-step plan to achieve them. “It really helped to have a process in place for success,” Jaime shared, “to move from discovery to solution recommendation to implementation. Translating insight into action was great practice for my full-time work, too.” To facilitate real time collaboration and feedback, they housed all materials related to the project in document sharing sites that bridged the geographical boundaries between Jaime in Washington D.C, Mallory in Chicago, and Alexa in Nova Scotia.

…While Stretching to Learn New Ones

Jaime and Mallory came into the project with combined expertise in social selling, brand building, competitor analysis, and website creation. But the area of SEO was newer to them both. Stretching to learn a new skill is a challenge, and challenges are always scary at first. But as they both found through this experience, there is often something valuable to be gained on the other side of that fear.

“We did a lot of product research on the back end to ensure that our SEO positioning approach was effective and valuable for Alexa,” Jaime noted, “and there’s definitely a learning curve there. There were times I was frustrated when something didn’t work, but we kept troubleshooting until we really understood their website. I found that it’s okay not to know everything – it’s about taking this opportunity to learn and grow.”

The sense of confidence they both gained from mastering this new skill will carry on long after the end of their project. For Mallory, “This experience showed me not to underestimate what I’m capable of, or at least capable of learning. Delving into the intricacies of SEO gave me a comprehensive understanding of keyword research, content optimization, and website analytics, all of which have proven instrumental in driving online success. I developed a keen sense of organization, effective communication, and the ability to navigate complex projects with efficiency and precision.” The same was true for Jaime, who through this experience “learned a lot about quickly learning a new skill and being able to translate it into value for a client. That will definitely be an asset in my full-time role.” 

At the end of their project, Jaime and Mallory created hand off documentation materials to enable Alexa to carry forward their SEO, brand building, and analytics recommendations on their own, or pass along to the next volunteer they work with to pick up where Jaime and Mallory left off. 

Carrying the Impact forward

Looking back on their experience now, both Jaime and Mallory reported a deeper sense of purpose and inspiration to continue weaving sustainability into their work. “I have a passion for sustainability, and had struggled in the past to tie that passion with my everyday line of work,” Jaime shared. He added that, “This experience really bridged the gap for me, and allowed me to help further the work of a professional who is doing this every day. I personally feel really satisfied for having volunteered my time.” For Mallory, “this experience helped reignite my long time passion for conservation – I felt REALLY good about what we had done by the end of the project. I am so excited to see what Alexa will do in the future, and how she continues to grow and succeed. It’s the most satisfying work I’ve ever done and I’m both motivated and inspired to do it again!”

Applying their skills in a new context with a social entrepreneur also helped them grow as leaders who are better equipped to work cross-culturally and cross-functionally. “Working with a diverse group of people and being comfortable in a different environment was such a valuable experience. It’s given me courage to say yes to things I may have been afraid of before, and enabled me to cultivate a range of skills that have since become cornerstones of my professional development.” Mallory explained. She elaborated that, “The exposure to project management, SEO optimization, and consulting with different types of clients not only broadened my skill set but also enriched my ability to make a meaningful impact in my chosen field.”

That also hit home for Jaime, who shared, “on a personal level, this experience was really eye opening. It’s one thing to learn about moving through the steps from empathy to action, but this opportunity created a safe space and opportunity for that empathy to truly thrive. Along the way, I got to learn new skills, work together with a great and collaborative team, and support an awesome entrepreneur doing amazing work saving our oceans and advocating for LBGTQ+ rights. It really brought the mission of SAP Corporate Social Responsibility to life, and confirmed that there is good in this world and we can be part of it.” 

We’re grateful to Jaime and Mallory for sharing their story with us, and to Alexa for making this experience possible. If you’re a professional who wants to make a difference with your skills and grow your career in the process, we invite you to register on the TRANSFORM Support Hub!