And why are we doing it?
As most everyone knows, Sarah and I both work for West Monroe Partners (WMP), a consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. What most don’t know is that as much as WMP is dedicated to developing its employees and providing top-notch service to its clients, it is heavily focused on supporting its local and global communities. Back in 2011, WMP rolled out the “1+1+1 Program” – which meant that the company would dedicate 1% of its Time (of work hours to community service), 1% of its Talent (of project-based time to sustainability or community enhancement projects) and 1% of its Treasure (of annual profit to qualified community or human services organizations) to better help its communities.
Two years later, WMP introduced the Fischer Global Service Fellowship, named after Dean Fischer (co-founder of WMP, who leads by example as a tremendous member of his community). The “Fischer Fellowship” (for short), supports employees in taking a leave of absence to volunteer their time and talent for meaningful causes with a global impact. WMP offers a portion of fellows’ salaries and coverage of volunteer-related expenses for six weeks to six months. In the past 5 years, WMP has supported 20 Fischer Fellows, across 19 organizations, within 15 countries around the world.
Personally, I still remember when the Fischer Fellowship was announced during one of the all-Chicago quarterly meetings, and I immediately knew that I’d pursue it. In 2013, I was a Senior Consultant, I met all criteria for the Fellowship, and I was currently serving as the Co-Chief of the Charity Committee in Chicago. It was probably the best time for me to go; the only small issue was I had recently met a girl (enter, Sarah). Over the next couple years, Sarah knew about my passion to complete the Fischer Fellowship and she even looked into taking a sabbatical from her employer at the time. That being said, I never really thought it’d be a reality, as the fiscal conservative in me could not justify Sarah not earning a paycheck for 6 months. More time passed, and Sarah eventually looked to pursue new opportunities outside of her current employer. Coincidentally, West Monroe had just started a Visual Design practice and was looking to hire their first graphic designer to the team to partner with the Team Lead, Emily. I wasn’t sure if Sarah would be interested in applying to West Monroe, primarily because she’d have to work with/near me – and that’s a lot of time together, haha. But after some discussions, she showed great interest in not only pursuing the Visual Design role within WMP, but we discussed how Sarah joining WMP would allow us to apply for the Fischer Fellowship together. Long story short – we’ve been planning for this opportunity for a long time.
Fast forward to 2017 – Sarah and I had a plan in place and we wanted to share that plan with our respective bosses and work with them making our goal a reality. The Fellowship involves an application process – detailing our targeted organization(s), what we plan on doing, and how it will help us to grow as leaders within our organization. It also asks for us to include letters or recommendation and a detailed expense budget. Once you complete the application, it is vetted by the selection committee, made up of many of our firm’s top leaders. We are then asked to complete an interview by the selection committee and then find out a couple weeks later if our proposal/application is accepted.
We were accepted in March 2018 for our application to work at the Chol-Chol Foundation in Temuco, Chile, which would allow us to complete our Fellowship starting in January 2019. With a nine-month gap, it was easy for us to sit back and relax, but we knew we had a ton to do.
If you’d like to read more about the Fischer Global Service Fellowship, check out the links below:
- Doing Good – WMP Values (Overview of WMP Programming, including Fischer Fellowship)
- West Monroe Names 2018 Class of Fischer Global Service Fellows, Celebrates 5th Year (Press Release)
- Personal Accounts from Past Fischer Global Service Fellows (Collection of Blog Posts from past Fischer Fellows)
- Chicago Inno article