Championing Corporate Skilled Volunteering in the Workplace

An interview with Amazon Global Senior Marketing Manager Roberta Melcore

Mar 2024

Roberta

1)    Tell us a bit about your current role

I am a Global Senior Marketing Manager at Amazon Web Service (AWS) and I have been with the company for over two years. In my time at Amazon, I have been working with different geographical and cross-functional teams, building strategies, planning and executing global marketing programs. 

 

2) What sorts of volunteer programs have you participated in at Amazon and/or do you feel are particularly popular with your fellow employees? 

From my perspective, many of the volunteering activities available at work are focused on “traditional” volunteering opportunities, such as kit building, litter picking or donation drives. Amazonians can easily access all these roles from an internal platform where they can also keep track of their volunteering hours and the skills developed during these activities.  

A different volunteering opportunity was offered in July last year thanks to the partnership between Amazon and Link UP London, an organisation that matches skilled professionals with charities on short-term pro-bono volunteering projects. This was the first volunteering program I took part in at Amazon and was attracted to the limited time commitment and the focus on leveraging existing professional skills. The Link UP volunteering opportunity was a Flash Consulting event, a 2 hour ‘advice clinic’ in which Amazonians could offer their bite-sized business knowledge and expertise to charitable organisations they were matched with in advance. I predict that these skilled volunteering events will continue to appeal to Amazonians as an alternative to the more traditional ‘frontline’ opportunities. 

 

3) What is your personal philosophy on volunteering? 

Volunteering and pro bono work are very important to me as they are some of the most meaningful ways to spend my time and make a difference. Like others in my industry, I want to give back by lending my expertise to those who need it most. Life keeps me busy though, so I must hold myself back from taking on too many volunteer projects. When I volunteer, I seek mentally challenging opportunities that allow me to fully leverage my skills and knowledge to maximum effect. This helps me feel I’m providing real value through my volunteering. 

 

4)    How did you first learn about Link UP London? What has your relationship been with the organisation? 

My first introduction to Link UP London was when they hosted a networking event at a community venue in my neighbourhood. Emerging from years of remote working, I was keen for opportunities to apply my skills to help others. Some months later, I reached out directly to Link UP’s CEO to discuss collaborating. We immediately hit it off. I’ve supported Link UP London ever since, first by bringing Link UP to the attention of the Amazon Community Impact (ACI) team, then as a Flash Consulting event volunteer myself and now as an ongoing skilled volunteer working with the Link UP team directly on their future strategy and expansion. 

 

5) Tell us about how you decided to bring the Link UP corporate skilled volunteering concept forward within Amazon. What was the process like? 

After having such a positive experience volunteering with Link UP London myself, I realised many other Amazonians might also be searching for meaningful ways to apply their professional skills via volunteering opportunities. Expanding access to Link UP’s corporate skilled volunteering programs internally seemed like an excellent way to empower fellow Amazonians to contribute their unique talents toward important causes. 

To take this forward, my first step was introducing our Amazon in the Community team to my contacts at Link UP.  I was fortunate to connect with a member of the Amazon in the Community team, who quickly recognized the potential to pilot Link UP’s skilled volunteering engagements. As I was so keenly invested in bringing the skilled volunteering opportunity into Amazon, it was great to see it develop via collaboration between Link UP and Amazon. The pilot created a rewarding experience that left all participants satisfied and excited to continue the partnership.
  

6) What did the Social Impact Solutions program from Link UP offer to Amazon in your opinion? 

Link UP’s Social Impact Solutions program provided a valuable new way to volunteer at Amazon. Skilled volunteering allowed employees to leverage their professional expertise to drive meaningful change, something many staff are seeking. By tapping into volunteers with specialised skills – whether social media, operations, marketing or more – Social Impact Solutions enabled Amazonians to assist small London charities that can truly benefit from their expertise. 

Equally important, this program provides access for employees to the non-profit sector. Offering this type of skilled volunteering enhances employee volunteers’ social impact and community connections while showcasing the talent and passion of the company’s workforce. Employees can represent their company positively while giving back in a fulfilling way.  

 

7) Describe your impressions of the first Flash Consulting session that you attended.  What did you learn? What surprised you? Would you participate in another one?  

The energy and excitement during my first Link UP Flash Consulting session was palpable. Amazonians were eager to learn more about their charity matches and share their expertise. The charities were thrilled to gain business insights from Amazon’s talented volunteers. And Link UP’s team expertly facilitated the session, ensuring a rewarding experience for all. At the start of the session, I found I immediately bonded with the charity and the fellow Amazon volunteers at my table. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could easily gather ideas and explain relevant concepts, with the charity stakeholders appreciating my knowledge. This experience reinforced to me that stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new can build confidence. The Flash Consulting session showed me we all have more to contribute than we sometimes recognize. I absolutely look forward to participating in more Flash Consulting sessions in the future. 

 

8) What did you learn about yourself and your company from the process of championing Social Impact Solutions?  

Championing Link UP London’s Social Impact Solutions program taught me a great deal about my own abilities and my company’s values. On a personal level, I discovered a talent for bringing people together around a shared purpose and saw first-hand how rewarding it is to turn a vision into reality. Though it took me out of my comfort zone, I gained confidence in pitching ideas and influencing stakeholders. This experience reinforced that using my skills to make a positive impact gives me an immense sense of fulfilment – something I want to continue pursuing. I learned not to underestimate my capacity to create change. This initiative also highlighted Amazon employees’ energy and eagerness to volunteer their talents for good and demonstrated Amazon’s openness to piloting creative programs proposed by engaged employees.  

 

9) What advice would you give busy professionals such as yourself when it comes to skilled volunteering.   

 

For busy professionals looking to get into skilled volunteering, I suggest starting small with programmes aligned to your values that allow you to apply your expertise. Schedule volunteering like it’s a priority and find friends or colleagues to participate with you for camaraderie and shared learning. Be vocal about your experience, encouraging others to get involved. Offer to spearhead skilled volunteering initiatives in your company if you feel you can. While specialised skills are valuable, showing up with an open mind matters more than perfection! The key is integrating volunteering into your routine in a manageable way and letting your passion fuel you to advocate for skilled volunteering more broadly within your company. 

 

 

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