A Day in the Life of Global Corporate Volunteer Engagement Manager, Lori Walton
Image: Lori Walton, Medtronic Foundation
- What brought you to the corporate social responsibility field?
I still remember the day like it was yesterday. Early on in my career, I was working in the marketing and communications field to improve customer experience, increase customer loyalty, enhance customer technology and lead culture change initiatives. In parallel with my career, I was deepening my community involvement through elevated volunteer leadership roles to help nonprofits improve their operational efficiencies and help those in need connect with community resources. At that point in my career, I wanted to bring together my passion for the community with my marketing and communications skills to more directly address community issues by strategically leveraging corporate resources and building lasting nonprofit partnerships. While working at FedEx in marketing for several years, I had the opportunity to transition into a CSR role thanks to a manager, who I will forever be grateful to for giving me a chance. That pivot to the CSR field changed the trajectory of my career, which gave me an opportunity to transfer my marketing and communication skills into leading PR initiatives for global CSR campaigns, developing community investment strategies, and leading large-scale volunteer projects globally. When I look back on my 20+ year career, the leap of faith into the CSR field was the exact change I needed professionally to contribute even more to creating positive changes in the community for the underserved. Special thank you to ACCP for being an organization I’ve always been able to lean into for resources, and network with other CSR professionals to strengthen my philanthropic knowledge and connections throughout my career!
- Tell us a little bit about what you do in your role.
I’m the Global Volunteer Engagement Program Manager at Medtronic Foundation and manage the year-round volunteering and giving programs for our 90,000 employees and retirees around the world. As part of my role, I manage the company’s largest global volunteer campaign annually, called Project 6, that engages 6,000 to 11,000 employees in over 50 countries through 250 projects (virtual, remote, and in person) led by over 400 Community Impact Champions. Also, I lead the Global Volunteer Engagement Council with 40 key stakeholders in the Americas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East Africa), APAC (Asia Pacific), and Greater China and partner with 5 Employee Resource Networks (African Descent, Hispanic, Asian, PRIDE and Women’s Network) to understand local community disparities and support employee-led volunteer and fundraising activities through Medtronic Foundation’s matched giving, volunteer grants, and other year-round programs. In addition, I serve in leadership roles for the Medtronic African Descent Network nationally and in Atlanta to engage employees through volunteering and giving in underserved communities. I’m thrilled to be currently supporting Medtronic Foundation’s $16M Health and Education Partnerships to address racial disparities and advance social justice in Black communities through employee-led volunteer initiatives.
- What does a typical day at work look like?
In the CSR field in general, no two days look alike, including in my current role at Medtronic Foundation. My day includes strategizing with team members and our vendors on how to evolve our volunteer and giving programs to meet our employees where they are in their volunteer journey. Also, I lead project teams to implement global volunteer campaigns and integrate CSR best practices to increase volunteer engagement around the world. The part of my day I love the most is hearing from employees about the impact they have had collectively through employee-led projects such as the year-round CPR training in China with the American Heart Association; building 1,500 skateboards with nearly 900 Medtronic volunteers in Colorado for underserved youth during COVID to support Can’d Aid; and the annual gala in Ireland for the Charity of the Year supported by volunteering and fundraising activities. After a typical day of many moving parts, I like to end my day by reflecting on how all these activities are contributing to bringing more resources and help into underserved communities for those in need. Knowing I’ve made an impact, even if it’s baby steps towards a greater community impact long term, keeps me looking forward to another day.
- What’s one professional skill you’re currently developing or furthering?
At the beginning of 2020, I committed to deepening my understanding about the socioeconomic factors of health (also known as social determinants of health) and inequities for those in underserved communities to access healthy food, quality schools, stable housing, good jobs with fair pay, and safe environments. I desire to do more for underserved communities to create sustainable change in addressing the root causes of these inequities. With the ongoing impact of COVID, it has been perfect timing for me to delve deeper into how these social determinants of health factors can further be addressed through place-based CSR programs.
I’m currently completing a Fundamentals of Population Health Certification program, which focuses on understanding the health inequities for groups of people in geographical locations based on health outcomes, patterns of social determinants of health factors, and policies and interventions. With this additional skill, I look forward to further identifying social determinants of health factors in target communities and bring more wraparound services to those communities to create a brighter future for those in need.
- What’s your go-to productivity trick?
I start my day by setting my intentions through prayer and meditation for the day that is centered on my life purpose (‘My Why’): To help people better their lives. Especially during the days when I feel like I have an endless list of To-Dos with meetings, projects, deliverables and emails, I take even more time in the morning and throughout the day to pause and remind myself of ‘My Why’ and be open to how all of the ‘busyness’ of the day will eventually come together to bring more long term resources into communities in need. Also, I love to use the Daybook App to journal my reflections during the day, so I can look back at the end of week to see my progress in fulfilling my life purpose to help those in need.
- What personality trait, behavior, or habit do you most attribute to your success and why?
I have a giving spirit for helping and inspiring others based on my life and career journey. I believe in paying it forward with the wisdom that I’ve gained from some of the toughest challenges in my life to encourage others that they too can make it through life and here’s my helping hand to support them. As a result, I’ve experienced more success than I could ever imagine in the CSR field through immersing myself in underserved communities, understanding the life journey of the underserved and how I can contribute towards positively changing the trajectory of their life. When I look back on my CSR career 10 years from now, my hope is that the seeds I have sowed will blossom into more lives changed for the better and communities transformed.
I look forward to continuing to connect with others in the CSR field to collectively plant even more seeds of positive lasting change in the community!