Written by Guest Blogger, Jenna Roland.
Jennifer Curtis leads Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Schneider Electric in North America. As a working mother, purpose, integrity and fairness drive her. Hear about this employee’s experience finding meaningful purpose at home and abroad.
“Every day I leave my two small children at home,” Jennifer says. “I want to ensure that when I come to work, I am making a difference to our customers, employees and community.”
And what a difference she’s making. In the first quarter of 2017, Jennifer participated in a mission to Vanderbijlpark, South Africa. She made this trip as part of Schneider Electric Teachers. This Non-Governmental Organization’s goal is to educate students on entrepreneurship and professional training.
“As part of Schneider Electric’s Access to Energy program, we invest in vocational training, both technical and professional, of disadvantaged young people, in emerging economies,” she explained. “We engage current and retired Schneider Electric employees in teaching these programs throughout the world.”
Jennifer’s career so far has been far from traditional. She’s learned to be adaptable and reinvent herself. After starting as an industrial engineer, she moved into purchasing and supplier diversity. Then she had the opportunity to lead the Global Supply Chain Advanced Developed Program (ADP) for U.S. recent graduates. Her next unconventional step was into Human Resources as an HR Business Partner. Yet, with no formal HR experience, she knew she had to learn quickly. She concentrated her studies in human resources and International Business while earning her MBA at the DePaul University in Chicago .
Now in her current role, Jennifer leads the Schneider Electric Foundation within North America. In addition, she leads Schneider Electric’s participation in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and reports on the company’s sustainability performance.
Because of her diverse education and experience, Jennifer knew she’d be a good fit for the Teachers mission to South Africa.
Teachers Mission in South Africa
During the three-day mission, Jennifer taught 13 college students pursuing electrician technical degrees. Another colleague trained a class of 12 students.
“We customized presentation material for our classes’ needs,” she said. Additionally, the group developed material for the final day focused around career advice. “We ended up discussing resumes, interviewing, personal brand management, personal presentation, and body language.”
The preparation for the curriculum took between 35-40 hours of work. But Jennifer explained that the time was well worth the effort. What part of the experience did she enjoy most? “The students,” Jennifer said. “They were engaging, interested, and their reasons for selecting the degree were heartwarming. They want to be electricians or work in electrical trades to prevent fires. The want to have safer homes. They want to make a difference in their townships. They want to solve reliability issues and help solve data and energy issues.” She added with a grin, “I think they really want reliable and cheap Facebook, too!”
Finding Meaningful Purpose at Work
Motivated by her sense of meaningful purpose, Jennifer explained that “at Schneider Electric, we have a unique opportunity through our products and services to protect lives, physical assets and the environment. This is enough to get me excited to work here.”
And that meaningful purpose has lasted throughout her career. “Knowing our business model is a win-win and our company is fair and generous has kept me here for the past 13 years.”
It’s not only Schneider Electric’s business model that inspires Jennifer. It’s also the opportunity to learn, grow her career, and have flexibility for her personal life and work space. And above all, she’s inspired by the people.
“I have smart, talented, trustworthy colleagues that I get to work with every day,” she says. “I love hearing from employees that beam with pride following a community impact event. They are so proud to work for a company that gives back and recognizes their contributions.”
Jennifer encourages other Schneider Electric employees to find their own meaningful purpose at work, both locally and globally. They can volunteer through global organizations, like Schneider Electric Teachers. Or they can do their part with local partnerships, like Habitat for Humanity.
Schneider Electric also focuses on energy related training. The company sponsors FIRST Robotics teams where our employees are mentors. “FIRST is one of the best ways to teach children about energy and automation with our schools,” Jennifer says.
“If you don’t have time to volunteer, give instead,” Jennifer further recommends. Employees can likewise take part in the Schneider Electric Foundation’s matching gift program. The Foundation also rewards personal volunteerism, awards community grants, and provides scholarships.
“My ask of you is to just DO SOMETHING,” she says to her Schneider Electric colleagues. “Every single one of our local communities has a pressing need that you can step up and solve today.”
Jenna Roland is an Employer Branding Specialist for Schneider Electric in North America. A graduate of TCU’s Neeley School of Business with a degree in Marketing, Jenna started with Schneider Electric nearly ten years ago. Jenna is passionate about building Schneider Electric brand awareness and strengthening the organization’s reputation as a great place to work. As a working mom to two young boys, Jenna is a strong advocate for well-being and work-life balance. Jenna is an avid sports fan, and enjoys baking, running, and yoga.