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Feb 8, 2021 7:39:48 PM

Contribute, learn, grow - A peek into the initiatives within our Good Impact program

Hannah Nordenström

Marketing Lead, Sweden

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At the beginning of 2019 we launched our Good Impact program, an initiative from Columbia Road to enable all Roadies to use their skills to give back to the community.

The Good Impact program aims to allow the employees at Columbia Road to leverage their personal growth by learning something new, to enable them to contribute to projects with positive social impact that are also close to their hearts and minds. 

Today, two years past the launch, numerous Roadies have worked on some remarkable projects within the program. We are truly in awe by what they have accomplished! Join us as we take a peek into just a few of the great initiatives.

If you are curious, you can read more about our Good Impact program here.

Tri Hoang | Programming training with immigrants

Tri, tell us about your work within the Good Impact Program. 

Being an immigrant, I understand the frustration with the untapped potential of international talent in Finland. That is why I have joined a project to train asylum seekers and immigrants in programming as a fast track to jobs that are based on meritocracy, not language skills. 

I collaborated with other members to form the curriculum and the mentored lots of students, helping them gain knowledge about programming as well as how to become a good developer. However, to then become developers, these talented and hardworking students must land a job in the tech field, which is quite tricky for asylum seekers and immigrants, who do not speak Finnish.

To solve this problem, I researched the job market and met with technology companies to get their feedback on what qualities they are looking for in their developers. With this information, we adjusted the curriculum and held soft-skill workshops. This proved to be very effective and has helped to increase the students’ chances to land their first job. 

In addition, to be more efficient, we have a team scouting the market, matching vacant positions for our suitable students. 

And best of all, this education is totally free for the students!


What are your own takeaways from this experience?

It was quite a special opportunity for me. Asylum seekers and immigrants are facing lots of problems: unemployment, lack of equipment of course sometimes along with challenges in their personal life. To help these people, I cannot be just a technical mentor. I need to also be a friend, to listen to their problems, be understanding, and guide them to help them solve their problems.

Through these experiences, I have learned to efficient teamwork and collaboration skills, interviewing skills, and be more empathetic overall. This is a golden opportunity to strive for a better version of myself.


In what way do you feel that the Good Impact program creates value for you as a Columbia Road employee?

The good impact program is such a great way of giving back to the community. With the program, I feel Columbia Road really has my back and encourages me to contribute towards a better society. Even better, we can decide to donate the compensation money to an organisation, talk about double impact and noble cause!


Toni Astala | Valot Päälle!

Toni, tell us about your work within the Good Impact Program.

Valot Päälle! is a book written by Tuomas Vanhanen aiming to inform policy-makers as well as everyone else to help them make better decisions related to their energy output and the environment. The point is to put things into perspective; what actually matters, and how big of an impact do different daily choices and societal decisions have?

We first set up a new website and created a simple test which helps people determine which type of car would have the smallest environmental impact with their specific driving habits. Although traditional gasoline and diesel cars are typically the worst alternatives for the climate, there’s no single choice which would be best for everyone. For example, fully electric cars are the most environmentally friendly choice for many people, but other types (like hybrids, biogas, or ethanol) are better for other driving habits.

We created a pro version of the car-type test, to provide more accurate and actionable insights to people considering a new car. The new calculator is based on feedback from the first version, and after launching it will hopefully convince even more people to make environmentally friendly and future-proof car choices.


What are your own takeaways from this experience?

Working together with Tuomas Vanhanen, the author of the Valot Päälle! book, has been an absolute pleasure. I’ve learned a great deal about the big picture of energy concerns in Finland and in general. One of the most surprising learnings was that for my own low-mileage driving habits, an electric car would not be the best choice. When I consider buying a car in the future, I’ll need to look into hybrids or biogas cars to minimize my carbon footprint.


In what way do you feel that the Good Impact program creates value for you as a Columbia Road employee?

For me, the most important aspects of the Good Impact program is that it encourages and enables me to contribute to a positive change in the world. Many of the organisations which work towards a better tomorrow are non-profits (or similar), and so even if they would benefit from Columbia Road’s employees’ competences they may not have the resources to work with us in a traditional manner. The Good Impact program gives me a chance to use my skills to help those organisations, while also learning about topics I’m interested in.


Valot Päälle! on the project:

“It has been very empowering to work with Toni and the rest of the crew. When people with varying backgrounds come together and work on a topic close to their passion, something good surely comes out. That is exactly what has happened here. With the help of the program, we have been able to reach tens of thousands of people that otherwise would not have heard of our independent information about energy and emissions. I sincerely believe we have made a difference in the world. Let’s keep up the good work.”

Learn more about the project in this interview for Huomenta Suomi on MTV. 


Sonja Jaakkola | WordPress Foundation

Sonja, tell us about your work within the Good Impact Program.

I have been volunteering for WordPress Foundation for over four years now by organising local events like WordPress meetups in Helsinki and bigger WordPress conferences called WordCamps. All official WordPress events around the world are organised by volunteers only - even the 3000-attendee WordCamp Europe. 

When Columbia Road announced the Good Impact Program, I was just about to apply to be part of the organising team of first-ever WordCamp Nordic. As it was a suitable project for the Good Impact Program I decided to put my work for the conference under it. 

My responsibility in the event was mainly the design and branding. In practice, it meant designing anything from logos to the swag of the event. 

I didn't want to receive compensation for this volunteering work myself, as to me, the point of being a volunteer is to give back to the community. Therefore I decided to donate the money that Columbia Road offers as compensation in the program back to Unicef to double the impact.


What are your own takeaways from this experience?

The experience of organising WordCamp Nordic was quite special compared to the previous events, as this year the team of organisers came from all Nordic countries. We had a wonderful team working towards a shared goal for over six months, and we managed to pull together an amazing event with 600 attendees from around Europe. I definitely learned more remote collaboration skills and appreciated making new connections from other Nordic countries.


In what way do you feel that the Good Impact program creates value for you as a Columbia Road employee?

I have done and would still do volunteer work even if Columbia Road did not offer the Good Impact Program. However, I really appreciate that Columbia Road sees the value in giving back to society and encouraging us employees to use our expertise to do good, and to be active in the community. I also love the fact that you have the option to donate the money that Columbia Road compensates you (instead of receiving it yourself). As for me, being paid for volunteer work is not the aim.

WordPress foundation on the project:

"Sonja is a very valuable and loved member of the Nordic WordPress Community, which is part of the Global WordPress Open Source project and worldwide community. She has contributed extensively to the community and is also one of the still-active founders and organisers of the WordPress Helsinki Meetup. To add to that she has been a very active and extremely valuable WordCamp Finland, Helsinki and Nordic organizer.

On all occasions, Helsinki, Finlands and Nordic, she has been brilliant with design. 

We're very happy and honoured at the Global and Nordic WordPress community for having her." - Rocío Valdivia


Esa Tiusanen | AYY

Esa, tell us about your work within the Good Impact Program.

AYY was launching a new website, and they wanted to make sure they got more value from it than previously. They asked for help in planning and implementing an effective analytics set-up to be able to follow what's happening on their website. They also wanted the possibility to segment their users to more efficiently use their communications budget to reach the right audience with different information.

We hosted some workshops to scope out what they wanted, and I set up some technical tools for them to use and trained them in how to use them.

The work was put on hold due to COVID-19, but may start up again this year. The next steps we had planned were to implement cross-domain tracking, and start working on some light growth hacking for AYY’s student services.


What are your own takeaways from this experience?

There is still lots of work to be done in terms of improving the technical, and marketing know-how in the Finnish market. Setting up the new tools was quick and easy, but the impact can be pervasive if the use of them is maintained. Hopefully, it can boost efficiency and help AYY service a larger proportion of their students and build the tight-knit student community they are aiming for.


In what way do you feel that the Good Impact program creates value for you as a Columbia Road employee?

For me, one of the best things about the program is the opportunity to contribute to the Finnish education system and student communities that I still hold close to my heart five years after graduation. It allowed me to feel good about helping an organization that is really lacking in resources to do valuable work in line with some of the things that matter most to me in Finnish society.


Feeling inspired? Apply now and work alongside these amazing Roadies and get a chance to make real impact with your work! Gear up your career, learn new skills, work along the best people in the business and get paid to work on projects you care about.

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