Giving back to the community

3M's drive for innovation applies not only to its products, but also to the way it approaches social issues in the communities in which it operates.

Giving back to the community has always been high on the 3M agenda, as it realises that meaningful social investment is the only way to ensure a brighter future for all.

Recognising that the youth of today are tomorrow's leaders, and committed to meet the needs of society today and in the future, 3M is dedicating one morning of its Technology Expo to prepare final-year marketing and industrial engineering students for a positive entry into the professional world.

More than 80 students from the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Tshwane University of Technology will have the opportunity to experience the company first-hand.

Having gone through an open selection process, the students will be attending talks by 3M's technical managers, as well as receiving advice on career planning from a technical recruitment specialist.

"With very little exposure to the real world, students have no way to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. 3M sees its Technology Expo as an opportunity to help students gain hands-on experience in, and knowledge about, the careers they have chosen," says 3M corporate social investment (CSI) manager Emmanuel Hinson.

"They will also have the opportunity to experience 3M's array of innovative products as an illustration of how multinational organisations apply state-of-the-art technology and innovation in their operations."

Connie Wilson, 3M's corporate marketing and public affairs manager, says that in addition, marketing and engineering students will be given a brief on a real-world case study that requires them to apply, in the form of an essay, the knowledge and skills acquired during their university training.

Technical managers from South Africa and the US will evaluate submissions and select the most appropriate approach. This student will receive a bursary, cash prize, or other suitable prize that will give him or her a head start.

This forms part of 3M's broader approach to social investment. 3M South Africa has a formal CSI policy that focuses on investment for the upliftment of previously disadvantaged communities.

Aligning its programmes with the government's black economic empowerment policies, the company strives to ease the burden of these communities via charity and non-governmental organisations.

"We also contribute to the creation of balanced, sustainable economic growth through the establishment of support of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME's)," says Wilson.

Typically, 3M's investments of products, training or finances are channelled where there is the greatest need - primarily the improvement of living conditions. One such project is the Sithabile Child & Youth Care Centre.

The centre was established in 1994 to rehabilitate and educate children from farms in Gauteng. The facility currently houses about 80 children, ranging in age from two to early 20s.