Career PathsInterviews

Brittany Pepper. Senior Account Executive for Ontario Higher Education. Softchoice.

Getting involved in your company’s CSR efforts can take different forms and it doesn’t always mean you’ll have ‘CSR’ in your job title. A positive trend we’re seeing in business is the integration of CSR efforts across all aspects of the company, with all employees having a hand (or at least the opportunity) in contributing to CSR goals. What’s even more impressive is that feedback from employees is driving change from within companies and creating opportunities across the organization so that everyone can be involved. This week we get to hear from Brittany Pepper, Sofchoice’s Senior Account Executive for Ontario Higher Education, who channeled per passion for CSR into a leadership position as Chair of Softchoice’s philanthropic program.

What does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?

As the Senior Account Executive for Ontario Higher Education, I help Colleges and Universities make informed decisions about their technology choices. I work to help fulfill their technology initiatives and deliver IT solutions that empower learning.

I am also the Chair on the Softchoice Cares Board of Directors. Softchoice Cares is a 100% employee driven CSR initiative and I am so proud to be a part of it. The organization as a whole keeps CSR front and centre so that employees are continually empowered in both their community locally and globally to volunteer and give back. All Softchoice Cares initiatives align to our core mission; Bridging the Digital Divide locally and globally.

My role as the Chair involves selecting and coordinating our international initiatives, implementing our annual Power 2 the People campaign, helping coordinate our company-wide volunteer day, and working with the committee on the distribution of funds to various local charities across North America.

Can you briefly describe your career path and how you got your current job?

I completed my Masters in International Development and began my job search in corporate social responsibility. I was very passionate about pursing a role in this capacity but had difficulty finding a position in the field. Through a friend and mentor, I was introduced to Softchoice based on my interests and their corporate culture, so I applied for a sales job on a bit of a whim. I have been here for five years now and am in my third year as part of the Board of Softchoice Cares, with this last year as the Chair.

While it wasn’t my original path, it was obvious this company was aligned with my goals as the giving culture permeates through the organization. I was asked during the interview process about my initiatives in the community and I knew right away this company suited me and shared my values.

What’s the coolest part about your job and what’s the biggest challenge?

I enjoy the work I do as an Account Executive. It is a demanding and fast paced job with the added fun of sharing my schedule with giving back to the community as a Softchoice Cares Board member. Our committee has a large impact locally, nationally and internationally and I am proud of that. My role on the committee is seen as a leadership development program and there is support from the company Executives to pursue new initiatives and develop as a future leader in the company. It is a great learning opportunity that I am thankful the company provides.

There is a sense of balance I have in this job that I’m not sure I could achieve elsewhere. If I’m having a day that may not go as planned, I have the benefit of switching over to CSR work and thinking about how we will make a difference in the community. It gives me the opportunity to pursue different passions at the same time, and I consider that a big reason why I like my job.

The biggest challenge is balancing responsibilities. It requires a lot of time management and extra hours. But the great part is you feel at the end of the day you have made an impact, and that makes the extra efforts rewarding.

What advice would you give to a job seeker looking for meaningful work?

Don’t limit yourself to the job you think is the perfect fit. There are organizations that are looking for people to come in and show them how to build a socially responsible business and brand and you can fill that role. Find a place where you can carve out your own space and direct a new path at the company and help businesses build a more responsible practice.

What can you identify as the biggest opportunity and hurdle in your sector right now?

Both an opportunity and a challenge in the corporate giving sector is ensuring that CSR initiatives align with the company’s mission and vision. When this comes into place you have complete buy in and engagement, which are crucial to your program. It makes your organization feel like a community; even in a large organization. Softchoice is a technology company, so Softchoice Cares focuses on ‘bridging the digital divide’ by providing access to technology to those in need. We have aligned our CSR initiative to our business and it allows employees to feel a passionate connection to our cause and feel a shared purpose. A lot of companies struggle with defining their CSR initiative and often they seem at odds with their business goals. This is a big hurdle to companies being effective and credible in the initiatives.

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