Every month, we recognise a colleague who’s done great things by volunteering for charity.
February’s award went to Sanders Lazier, co-head of Growth at Octopus Investments, about his work with MyBnk, a charity teaching young people all about saving, budgeting and entrepreneurship. Sanders now gets £500 to donate to a charity close to his heart.
Why did you decide to start volunteering?
The importance of volunteering was passed on to me by my father. He was a Duke of Edinburgh Award recipient, an international program that encourages young people to get active and serve the community. Like him, I started helping out whilst I was a high school student in Canada.
After I moved to London, I volunteered on tech literacy courses, teaching everything from how to turn on a computer to using smartphones, word processing and writing resumes for those in need.
At Octopus, I heard that MyBnk, one of our charity partners, needed help with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and since I have some knowledge of how it works, I thought I would see how I could help.
Why did you choose to volunteer for MyBnk?
I didn’t get to learn as much as I should have about money and investments when I was a kid. A year and a half after joining Octopus, it’s still obvious how much there is to learn.
Everyone needs these skills, which is why MyBnk is so important. They empower young people, so no one left behind in the digital economy.
I also think that MyBnk closely fits with Octopus as a business. We both aim to take the complications out of money – and make it easier to understand.
Can you tell us about the volunteering you’ve done at MyBnk?
I try to volunteer at MyBnk one afternoon a month, using my skills to help them run more efficiently, as part of my day job involves using data to help sales teams.
So, I’m doing similar work with MyBnk. Basic sales and CRM skills are very important to running a charity because ultimately this data helps them fundraise and make a bigger impact on the community.
I’ve helped them with small tasks, like integrating their e-mails into Salesforce, to larger, more strategic work like setting up metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to help manage their sales team.
Did you volunteer at a particular event to earn the Volunteer of the Month award?
Volunteering is an ongoing practice for me, so there wasn’t a particular project that earned me the award. It’s just something I do, so I was surprised to be recognised. I have an inkling that my colleague, Caroline Flagg, is behind it all!
I’ll keep volunteering for as long as I feel like I am providing value. It’s a long collaborative process, but one brick at a time, we’ll put the foundations in place to help them towards their goals. Volunteering means I get to work with passionate people and share my knowledge, to help them do even more great work.
Can you tell us about a memorable moment from your volunteering?
It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular moment, because the things I do to help aren’t very glamorous! But helping great people achieve their goals is very rewarding. It’s amazing how something so simple, like setting up an e-mail sync to a CRM, can bring a smile to people’s faces.
Have you decided where your £500 donation will go?
Of course! It’s going to MyBnk.
And finally… what’s your message for anyone who hasn’t volunteered before?
To anyone thinking of volunteering: don’t discount your experience because you can offer far more than you think. Whatever you do, or whatever you’ve done, there are people who can benefit from your experience.
Whether it’s raising money, helping out with PowerPoint presentations, or just listening, learning and contributing – there’s value in what you do every day. So, don’t be afraid to help. You might surprise yourself!