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Autodesk Employees Mark Five Years of Making a Global Impact Through Volunteer Work

Autodesk employees in Boston assemble Solar Buddy solar lights.

Someone very near and dear to my heart is turning five this year. You guessed it—the Autodesk Foundation was born a half-decade ago, in 2014. While that might feel young to some, we’re amazed at how quickly the Foundation has flourished and grown. It’s humbling to be on this team at Autodesk that works with employees to create an impactful culture and support the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Since the Foundation’s launch, Autodesk employees have volunteered 130,000 hours of their time to over 1,500 organizations around the world.

Each May, Autodesk’s “Global Month of Impact” is a time when employees can come together to make a better world through volunteering. I’m inspired by the collective impact I see when thousands of Autodeskers contribute to a common cause. I know that we can’t change the world in just one month, but the ripple effects of our contributions are meaningful and last throughout the year.

San Francisco employees, including CEO Andrew Anagnost (front left) display their completed solar lights.

This year, thousands of employees from more than 40 Autodesk offices around the world gathered to volunteer in groups large and small. Some chose to focus on causes that were special to them in their own communities, while many of our offices held group volunteer sessions to build solar lights designed for children. We partnered with Solar Buddy, an Australia-based organization that helps children living in energy poverty to continue studying after the sun goes down, improving their education outcomes, and overall health and well-being. This May, Autodesk employees constructed 3,000 solar lights for kids in Papua New Guinea.

While supporting our global month of impact initiatives over the last five years, I’ve noticed four main takeaways:

Peer-to-Peer

When we volunteer together, we get to connect with our colleagues about more than just the next deadline or deliverable. Instead, we have an opportunity to learn about big issues affecting our world (like having access to clean water or energy), discuss how our company values social good (it does!), and take action to show how each of us can make a difference.

During this year’s Month of Impact, one employee explained how he grew up in a community where most kids didn’t have reliable access to energy or light, and volunteering to build solar lights for students really resonated with him. This peer-to-peer engagement helps us broaden our perspectivesand learn about each other beyond our work lives.

Completed Solar Buddy lights including personalized notes for their recipients.

Champions Within

There’s no way that, in one month, thousands of employees couldvolunteer and build thousands of  solar lights without  our “Impact Champions”. These employees help spearhead and organize localefforts, serving as impact hubs in more than 30 offices around the world. By building their own professional skills as project managers, they inspire their colleagues to create a positive impact in their careers and build a culture of impact within their office.

Some of our employees even choose to be part of our pro bono consulting programs, where they help out with global projects in support of our customer community of impact designers, nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs. Recent projects range from mapping for historical and future projects and 3D printing to helping AI recognize buildings in need of earthquake retrofitting, where employees use their skills to help these organizations get the most out of the technology available to them.

Take it Home

After volunteering this month, our CEO, Andrew Anagnost, shared his experience with his daughters and together they discussed the need for clean energy and access to power around the world. It’s not your typical “what did you do at work today?” conversation. I believe that creating an innovative and impactful work environment can help kids, partners, families, and friends talk about ways to make an impact in their life and work too.

Take it to Work

Global Month of Impact is not just about the thousands of solar lights we will build that will reach remote communities in need. In fact, the biggest impact that we all can make is taking the experience back to our desks. If more of us begin looking for and recognizing opportunities to have environmental or social impact in our work, we can help our customers – the builders, makers, and designers of the world — do the same.

I am so proud of the work we have accomplished at the Autodesk Foundation in the past five years. Global Month of Impact is just one example of the trajectory we are on to make a better world, together.

Thank you to all my fellow Autodeskers who have made this Global Month of Impact truly the best one yet. I’m excited to see the ripple effect that will keep going.

A special shoutout goes to our nonprofit partner, SolarBuddy, for the important work they do getting solar lights into the hands of remote school children to improve students’ access to energy and education while reducing indoor air pollution. We are so excited to continue working with you!

Autodesk employees in Pune, India, display their completed solar lights.