When asked why they love to work for 3M, many employees say that they enjoy making a difference in the world. To draw on this passion, 3M offers a program called 3M Impact, where employees travel to communities around the world to spend two immersive weeks collaborating with a local organization to contribute to a solution for a pressing social or environmental issue.
Yanique Walters-Dynott, IT Administrator from 3M Jamaica, and Grant McPhee, Category Insights Analyst from 3M Canada, recently traveled to Bangalore, India with 10 other 3M Impact participants. They both applied for the program to contribute their business skills to a unique cause in an area they had never traveled to and truly make an impact, but what they didn’t realize was how much the program would impact them personally and professionally.
“I can’t stop expressing how much I have grown from this experience,” Yanique says. “Working on this project reignited my passion for databases, and encouraged me to do a refresher course in database development and create applications in Excel for my friends and their businesses. Now I want to find other ways to volunteer around the world, so that I can help as many people as I can.”
Grant adds, “Even though I have experience volunteering, there was no way I could have anticipated the impact this would have on my life. On a personal level, there is an immediate, enhanced appreciation for the opportunities I have been blessed with. I also have a new appreciation for how rich the Indian culture is. On a professional level, the need to adapt quickly with a new team and working style while trying to meet a tight deadline taught me leadership, time management and compromise.”
Before they left, Yanique and Grant discovered that they’d be working together with an organization called Environmental Synergies in Development (ENSYDE), which has a lot of potential to impact the community for the better by teaching the public about the importance of properly disposing of electronic waste. However, the organization was running into a problem with data monitoring and evaluation. To really show the impact of their efforts, ENSYDE needed data, but all the data they had to date had only been entered based on need.
“Given that our task called for building a data repository with reporting capabilities, my analytics background complemented Yanique’s IT skills perfectly,” says Grant.
Yanique was slightly concerned at first, because though she had studied database development in college, she didn’t work on databases in her day-to-day work at 3M.
“After reading through the scope of the project in its entirety, I realized that I panicked for no reason,” shares Yanique. “The scope of the work wasn’t new to me – it just wasn’t in my current job scope. And it was a similar concept to projects I had worked on previously, just for a different organization.”
So Yanique and Grant rose to the challenge, excited by the opportunity to create a database system that could both manage the data ENSYDE collected and provide proper reporting to sustain their business.
Though their skills were a great match, the task at hand was by no means easy. Knowing their assignment before they left for India, Yanique and Grant had a vision in mind of what their solution was going to look like. When they arrived, however, they realized their plan was not going to work. ENSYDE didn’t have a network, server or standalone machine that could host the database. So, it was back to square one, where they came up with a different solution: building the database system in Excel.
Yanique and Grant learned that a tool like this would save ENSYDE 15 hours a week -- valuable time that can be used to run more campaigns and educate more citizens about the dangers of improperly disposing electronic waste. But as much as ENSYDE was positively impacted by their work, Yanique and Grant were impacted just as much.
“Watching the presentations of our other colleagues on the work they did left me with a great sense of accomplishment that collectively as a group, we had made a difference during our time in Bangalore,” says Grant. “There is no doubt that this experience has changed my outlook on how I approach work, and will serve me well moving forward.”
“We took initiative in the face of uncertainty, and because of that I returned to Jamaica with much improved leadership and teamwork skills,” says Yanique. “3M is going above and beyond to develop their employees, and that makes me proud to be a 3Mer.”
Yanique and Grant’s story is truly inspiring and at 3M, we want to make sure all our employees’ voices are heard. Whether you’re a candidate who has interviewed with 3M or a current employee, we’d love for you to anonymously share your experiences with us on our Glassdoor page.