Note: The leadership team of Cisco’s Connected Asian Affinity Network (CAAN) would like to thank its executive sponsors and supporters for supporting this international give back the initiative. This program would not have been possible without them.

At Cisco, we cultivate change agents. We empower global problem solvers. We strive to positively impact 1 billion people by 2025. We encourage employees to seek out volunteering opportunities, to use their professional and personal skills to better the lives of others, and to improve the health of their communities, both locally and globally.

Recently, Cisco’s Connected Asian Affinity Network (CAAN), an employee resource organization (ERO) that focuses on cultivating more Asian leaders, sent several of its members to Shanghai to perform pro bono work for HandsOn Shanghai (HOS). The skills-based service trip was the first of its kind; the first global give back program within Cisco which offered employees the opportunity to volunteer their time and expertise on an international level.

Some of CAAN’s 2017 Global Give Back volunteers on the streets of Shanghai.

Selected members of CAAN collaborated with HOS’s staff between April 10-14 on four distinct projects. These projects included: enhancements of current mobile and web applications, the creation of marketing videos, acceleration of annual fundraising efforts, and development of HOS’s social media marketing and engagement strategies. Volunteers from California, North Carolina, Anhui, and Shanghai worked closely with their respective teams to complete their deliverables before returning to their ‘day’ jobs.

HOS currently organizes 120 regular volunteering events each month and offers more than 2,500 volunteer opportunities. They work directly with 75 community partners to provide services to socially vulnerable groups. They also create custom volunteering opportunities for multi-national companies to meet annual corporate social responsibility goals.

“We selected HandsOn Shanghai for our inaugural Global Give Back Program because we felt this NGO would create the greatest impact given their pre-existing relationships with local charities and multinational corporations like Cisco,” said Faith Lin, Community Relations Manager for Cisco. “HandsOn Shanghai fosters a culture of volunteerism; through individual action, volunteers create a collective impact to change the world.”

CAAN and HOS celebrate a productive week together.

As CAAN looks ahead to its next global give back location, its leaders hope other EROs will follow suit and offer similar pro bono trips for its members. CAAN’s inaugural global give back program proved that it’s possible to affect change in a short amount of time. But first, you must want to be the change.

Check out our video to see what we were able to accomplish through our HandsOn Shanghai partnership:


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco