By Wendi Latko, Director of Sustainable Services, Xerox Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability

At Xerox Wendi focuses on sustainability initiatives.  At home she is a typical mom of three boys – shuttling them to sports, Scouts, and urgent care centers.

Even though my own school days are long behind me, I still find myself following the cadence of the school calendar.  As spring turns into summer, I am thrust into the chaos of the end-of –year push.  This year has been particularly busy in terms of my academic involvement: two guest lectures; speaking at a student professional society conference and a university-sponsored conference; a departmental advisory board meeting; and participating in a university-wide innovation festival.  Taking place over a mix of work hours, evenings, and weekends, I have found myself assessing the value- both personally and to Xerox – of this time commitment.  What is the value?

1-It helps Xerox.  We get a real benefit out of our university partnerships.  At both Penn State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology, I got to meet with students who worked on Xerox-sponsored projects.  These projects were not just busy work – the students tackled real problems and their solutions will likely be incorporated into our product designs and research direction in the future.  Additionally, these relationships help us build a recruiting pipeline so we can ensure we are able to fill our critical technical positions.

2-It helps the students.  Students who have a good perspective of how their academic studies fit into the real world will be more valuable to their future employers.  Hearing about the real-life applications and struggles adds a dimension that theoretical exercises alone can’t bring.  And judging from the number of career questions and LinkedIn requests I receive after a guest lecture, I expect they also see it as valuable in building their own professional network.

3-It helps me.  It is energizing to see the world through the students’ eyes and, yes, learn from them.  Too often we become consumed with the day-to-day pressures and forget how exciting our work actually is.  And in my field, sustainability, the students’ enthusiasm and passion is an important reminder that we are truly working to make the world a better place.  I never fail to come away with more determination and drive.

So, is it worth it?  My conclusion is a resounding yes!