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Corporate Responsibility in Action

Postcards from Peru: Insights and Musings from the Symantec Service Corps

Created: 18 Mar 2014
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After four weeks in Peru, the Symantec Service Corps (SSC) team has achieved many milestones, both for their clients and their own personal growth. The team made their final client presentations on Friday, before packing their bags to return home.

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SSC team smiling after a day of service at Paz Peru's organic farm.

As the end neared, they took the opportunity to reflect on what they've learned and how they plan to apply these learnings to their Symantec roles. The team is also sharing some of their extracurricular activities, including rafting trips and futbol games---as well as their first stops when they return home.

Living the Symantec Values in Peru

Halfway through the SSCs' time in Peru, Symantec unveiled its new values: six actionable statements that offer a powerful message. The amazing thing is, thousands of miles away from their Symantec offices, these 10 employees have been a great testament to what the company's new values exemplify. As they worked in support of three Peruvian NGOs - Paz Peru, Descosur, and the Center of Research, Education and Development (CIED) - these values stood out:

  • Commit and deliver: When the employees applied to participate in SSC they had no idea what tasks they might be asked to perform, what organizations they would be working for, or who they would work with. They simply made a commitment to accept whatever challenge they were assigned and be accountable for the work they were asked to do. Before they left, they invested many hours in pre-work assignments. When they arrived in Peru they immediately got to work understanding their client's needs, asking important questions, and making actionable recommendations.

    "I am proud that we are truly making a difference here. We will be giving Descosur back hundreds of hours a year that they can then turn around and use to make a bigger impact than they do already in the communities they serve," said Kamal LaBreche.

    "Rather than waiting until the end of the project to report to the client we've sought to engage them throughout the process. It's helped them to accelerate their decision-making, and has allowed our team to focus on the direction the client is taking," said Chris Brown.

    "I'm most proud of the fact that we are delivering a very actionable plan that our client understands and feels is realistic, as well as a slew of templates and actual deliverables they can put into action immediately," said Ashley Savageau.

  • Have courage to take smart risks: From day one, this team walked in with aggressive goals and a concrete deadline to meet them. Working in teams of three or four, they challenged each other to deliver the information they needed in the appropriate timeframe. They learned to step outside their comfort zones to drive change and innovation, and learn from the decisions they make.

    "My experience with the Symantec Service Corps has been a great training ground for leadership. The context alone has caused me to try new techniques---to step back when I need to step back and to step up when I need to step up---an excellent skill to take home and continue to develop," said Claire Dean.

    "Understanding a totally new business in such a short period of time has been a valuable experience. It should help me become better when working cross-functionally within Symantec," said Prakash Pappachan.

  • Value individual differences: When you have a team that comes from seven different locations, various cultures, and different professional backgrounds, diversity is expected. You can either choose to challenge the differences or embrace each other's unique perspective. In Peru, the Service Corps team members celebrated their differences, allowing the sum of the parts to become bigger than the whole.

    "I'm proud of our team. In such a short time---and even from day one---we've treated each other like family. Looking out for each other, sharing meals, and going on road trips. We came together with a common goal of helping the NGOs, doing good within our respective groups for the greater Peru," said Allyson Gomez.

    "The experience of working in a much more diverse cross-functional team has given me insight into some of the other areas within Symantec, and some of the incredible talent we have here," said Kamal LaBreche.

Experiencing Peru: from rafting and futbol, to tourism and driving

While Claire Dean has participated in a number of leadership trainings throughout her career, she knew that immersing herself in a foreign country would provide a whole new perspective into leadership. Read about her observations while rafting down the River Chile, in her blog post, "Leadership Training on the River Chile."


Going down the River Chile on a raft: now that's teamwork!

Kamal LaBreche and Chris Brown knew a trip to Peru would not be complete without attending a professional futbol game at Unsa stadium in downtown Arequipa. Read about their experience, including why the riot police made multiple appearances, in Kamal's blog post, "Enjoying a South American Pastime-- Futbol in Arequipa."

Allyson Gomez, Marq Bauman, and Prakash Pappachan have been working closely with client CIED to help resolve their current organizational challenges. During the course of their work, they learned about CIED's vision to create "The Sillar tourist route," a project that would benefit both tourists and local workers. Read about the sillar stone and the goals of the project in the blog post, "The Sillar Chronicles."


CIED team watch local artisans create carvings for a future "Sillar tourist route."

Navigating through the city of Arequipa has been quite an adventure. The team has private drivers to travel to their clients, but otherwise rely on taxis and buses. In the blog post, "Getting Around Arequipa," Marq Bauman details what he's learned about local transportation, including how to decode the honks from taxi drivers.

As the client projects neared completion, Kamal LaBreche provided a behind-the-scenes look at the Descosur project in his post, "Descosur Update 2."

Developing talent through International Corporate Volunteering

While this is a pilot for Symantec, the SSC is already receiving recognition as a powerful initiative that is developing employee leaders and allowing Symantec to gain expertise in emerging markets. Recently Cecily Joseph, Vice President, Community Relations for Symantec was quoted in the Huffington Post about the program.

"Managers and the teams back home participate as well as the employees who deploy, because they have to step up," explained Cecily Joseph, "Additionally, there's ongoing communication between the volunteers and the home teams via social media. Everyone becomes part of the experience, and everyone is recognized."

Read the full story, "International Corporate Volunteering: Profitable for Multinational Corporations."

Welcome home. First stop when the plane lands?

We're excited to welcome the SSC team members back and congratulate them on a tremendous job. After a month away from home, the team is anxiously awaiting their first days back. What's first on their list? After visiting friends and family, here are some of their plans:

  • "Cook in my own kitchen. We've been eating out for a month now."
  • "Enjoy the sunshine."
  • "Check whether the PVR has exceeded its storage."
  • "Eat! Either Chinese or Japanese food."
  • "Get some rest and head straight to the gym!"

Complete the journey

The team has blogged their journey on the Symantec Service Corps blog site. You can also follow their Twitter feed.

For more information about Symantec's Corporate Responsibility strategy, visit the Corporate Responsibility website.

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Lora Phillips is Symantec's Senior Manager, Global Corporate Responsibility.