An Interview with ACS Volunteer Carmen Lam

Welcome to another “face of ACS”, an interview series starring ACS Volunteers and their journey in serving the non-profit community.

My work background is in hospitality, technology, real estate and customer experience. I am now a full-time consultant in strategy, culture, systems and process alignment to address performance gaps. We live in a world where change is the only constant. I believe that all change starts with people and so I work across cultures and functions to help organizations and individuals map their future-scape, develop their most advantageous and agile approach, and align organization culture with strategy and customer experience to achieve the competitive edge.

What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?        

High Energy, organized, competitive  

What has your ACS volunteering journey been like? What particular instances which have stood out for you (and why)?

It’s been a great experience. With some NGO clients, I felt as if I needed every ounce of my energy, and some more, to keep things organized and going. But when the right chemistry existed between the NGO and our team of volunteers, that’s when magic always happened, and we were able to create a good show that was worth every minute that we had spent together.

 

The most meaningful instance for me was when I was working with another volunteer to help an NGO develop their story. We tore down the original version, we interrogated the plot, and, as volunteers on the team, we played good-cop-bad-cop to stimulate creative thinking. We didn’t get the final prize in that event, but I believe that, through that collaborative process, we left the young NGO team with a better understanding of how their organization’s mission aligned with their purpose, how their cause fit in with what the world needs, and what they needed to do to position themselves to gain wider acceptance and support. A small step to raise an NGO’s self-awareness, a big step for the targets they were serving.

 

For all the volunteer experiences I had, teamwork always resulted in outcomes that would never have happened if we had been working on our own.

What advice do you have for a new ACS volunteer? 

Take nothing for granted. Most NGOs know exactly what they are doing – but they may be unable to articulate their thoughts, or they may articulate what they think the world wants to hear. It just takes time and patience to extract the insight, align that with what the funders are looking for and voila!

Thank you Carmen!

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