Mr Tony Gui, Chairman of the Social Impact Committee of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Singapore (HPE), spearheads the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, and has led their participation in The Purple Parade with SPD since 2016. More recently, Tony and his colleagues have become regular SPD volunteers. In this conversation, senior communications and outreach executive, Melissa Tan, finds out from Tony, how his journey with SPD began.
1. Hi Tony! What made you decide to partner with SPD for The Purple Parade back in 2016?
I got to know about The Purple Parade when I first joined the South West Community Development Council’s (CDC) contingent as a HPE participant at The Purple Parade 2015 at Hong Lim Park. I was very inspired by the movement and the message that The Purple Parade brings upon. Hence, in 2016, together with the newly formed Social Impact Committee at HPE, we decided to form a contingent to participate in the event. With the help from Central Singapore CDC, we were introduced to SPD, and our partnership started from there.
2. How did you first get involved in charitable work?
My first involvement in charitable work was when I first joined the company back in 1997. The company (it was Hewlett-Packard (HP) Company then) organised a series of CSR-related activities, and that opened and widened my perspective of charitable work. Through my frequent participation in the activities, it prompted me to want to give back to the community.
3. As the country lead for HPE Singapore’s Social Impact Committee (SIC), how did you first become involved with the SIC ?
After the HP Company was restructured into HP Inc. (HPI) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in November 2015, I had the privilege and opportunity to be part of the newly formed SIC in HPE. Comprising volunteers hailing from different business groups and functions within HPE, the SIC actively helps HPE bring cheer and support to the less fortunate in the community. It also plays an important role in instilling a strong community spirit within HPE Singapore’s employees.
4. Tell us more about the Social Impact Committee and its work.
At HPE, our purpose is to advance the way people live and work. Our culture of giving is to accelerate the positive social impact by our employees. We believe in supporting local communities, promoting meaningful partnership and creating positive impact. Our mission is two-fold:
- To instill community and volunteerism spirit among HPE employees with the objectives of benefiting the needy and enabling our employees to grow in character
- To build mutually-beneficial and sustaining partnerships with charitable organisations to provide assistance to the less privileged in the communities
The SIC focuses on five pillars of volunteering work, namely, seniors/less-privileged families, education, environment, special needs and special projects. Through a series of programmes and initiatives, we hope to cater to different aspirations of our volunteers and address the various needs in the communities.
5. What motivates you to keep doing what you do, at work, in the committee and in the charity scene?
As a Christian, it is my conviction and belief that everyone is equal, and deserves the dignity that he/she is entitled to. Every human being is loved, be it rich or poor, able or differently abled. It is only when we treat each other with respect, and all play our part, big or small, that we can change the world.
A quote from David Packard, one of HP’s founders:
“The betterment of our society is not a job to be left to a few. It is a responsibility to be shared by all.”
6. What’s the greatest challenge you have faced in your volunteering experience?
One of the challenges is to strategise and provide guidance and vision to the SIC team, especially to the young graduates. It is imperative to ensure that SIC’s programmes are aligned with our corporate business objectives and philanthropy policies, and at the same time, be able to nurture the employees to grow in character.
All the committee members hold full-time jobs in the company and are providing support to the SIC’s initiatives on a voluntary basis. Being able to plan, execute and deliver the programmes that we have committed successfully, without short-changing the expectations of the clients, is also a constant challenge that the team has to mitigate.
7. What’s the most rewarding part?
One of the most rewarding experiences is when we bond with the beneficiaries and establish the connection with them, knowing that every little effort that we put in does impact them in one way or another. Another rewarding part is when they look forward to meet us and call us out as friends.
8. Any memorable stories or incidents to share?
I got to know James when we started volunteering at DAC early this year. Little did I know that he can communicate through the communication chart that he carries. He was able to answer my questions and spell the words correctly and effectively! I was very touched when he was able to spell my name and share with me his favourite food!
Every engagement and moment with the clients has been so inspiring and memorable!
9. Has your volunteering experience at SPD helped you in any way, or changed your perspectives?
There is so much need out there, and I sincerely hope that every one of us is able to contribute in whatever capacity we could, so that the society can be more inclusive and gracious. Together, we can make a difference and amplify the social impact to the nation!
10. Do you have any advice for people who are looking to volunteer?
Be open about the opportunities to serve, be sensitive to the needs of the clients, and always be humble to learn. Believe that while we may not be able to do great things, we can still do small things with great love!
I will just end this with another quote by Winston Churchill:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”