One for the bucket list

Well it never occurred to me to put “Ring the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange” onto my Bucket List. But I think I’ll add it now so I can check it off …!

Monday was International Corporate Philanthropy Day – a joint effort of the UN and the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy. In celebration, companies were asked to submit a description of a “strategic international philanthropic initiative addressing a social issue.” The winning companies would be invited to ring the opening bell at the Stock Exchange.

We decided to highlight the Intel® Teach Program, Intel’s long-term teacher professional development initiative, which has trained more than 7 million teachers around the world on the effective integration of technology into teaching and learning.

As we have been examining ways to increase our focus and impact on girls and women around the world, one aspect of that program that we are only now starting to recognize – with real pride – is the impact of the fact that the large majority of those teachers are women.

For many of these women, in countries the world over, the confidence in using technology that they have gained through Intel Teach has been transformative. They see themselves differently, and engage with the world differently – as competent professionals who can access the broader world, and help their students go even farther and faster. Many have taken on leadership roles in their schools, education systems and even governments, and all have become role models for the children they teach – particularly the girls.

I was not really surprised that Intel was selected – I spend a lot of time talking to others about education and corporate philanthropy, and I always come away terribly proud of the role we are playing.

I was delighted to be invited to represent Intel on the day. I do wish my dad were still around to enjoy it – he was an Oregon dairy farmer who would have been shaking his head in bemusement for months afterwards. How the heck did one of his kids end up on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange?? Education of course is the answer – he and my mother made tremendous sacrifices to send their five kids to university. Which explains, too, why I am so passionate about the work I am allowed to do on Intel’s behalf. I know very personally what an impact we can and do have.

NYSE TradingFloor3.jpgSo on Monday morning, I was up at 3AM Oregon time to be there on time. Walking through the Exchange floor is a little like being in the midst of a vast pinball machine, caroming from pillar to post in the midst of chaotic noise and motion. It wasn’t until we mounted the podium at one end of the Exchange that we could get a perspective on just how big the place is, the chaos resolving into more purposeful motion – all very intense.

Then the countdown to the hour, 30 seconds of applause – carefully measured – followed by precisely 15 seconds of the bell (video – me in turquoise :)) while everything on the floor held its breath. And then, let the games begin! All the deals teed up through the night, and in the wheeling and dealing that had been going on as we arrived, reverberated through the wires and countless computer screens. The market was off and running – it was up! An auspicious start to International Corporate Philanthropy Day!

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