A key finding from Polycom’s 2015 employee engagement survey showed that employees are interested in career development opportunities. Having spent several days meeting with middle and high school students in Jordan who are starting to think about their careers, it’s been a powerful reminder that the desire for learning and development opportunities begins at an early age. This desire to learn and grow was evident at the schools we visited and beyond – we discussed development boot camps for young engineers at Oasis 500, an innovation accelerator focused on the Middle East and North Africa. Our visit to the US Embassy focused on the learning opportunities created by cultural exchanges such as those enabled by Global Nomads Group. And a lunch– which turned into a debate – with Ted Talk Fellow Suleiman Bakhit, who is working to counter violent extremism among youth in the region by creating "characters and stories based in Arab tradition to spread the culture of tolerance."
There is great power in Polycom’s innovative technologies, and that power was readily evident in all of our meetings. At the Amman Baccalaureate School we met several students who had participated in our recent 25th Anniversary eventwhere we connected with 25 students from New York, Jordan, Pakistan and Thailand to discuss how they envisioned the work place of the future. One student reflected that such direct interaction in a video exchange with teenagers across the world changed his life because he is “not relying on the media to filter information.” Another described her video exchanges with students in the United States as a “cyber conference” where stereotypes were broken and misconceptions were erased between students of different cultures. The students felt that the experiences they had over video were equal to those in person (we know that at Polycom too!). One recent exchange involved discussions about race relations with respect to the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri of a young unarmed 18 year old African-American man and the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
The U.S. government also believes in the power of cultural exchanges such as the ones Global Nomads offers with Polycom video collaboration technology. The Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Jordan, Tobias Bradford, expressed his pleasure in Polycom’s support of Global Nomads because he believed that “too few private companies participate in such public opportunities.”
Another learning opportunity came during our visit to Oasis 500, the innovation accelerator, whose 10 year mission is to train entrepreneurs, provide startup funding, and act as mentors within the MENA region. Oasis 500 is finding that students leave Jordan for better paying jobs in other Gulf Coast countries. With these new development opportunities, they are hoping to increase the number of local businesses and to attract and retain the talent within Jordan. They’ve done very well so far – investing in 109 companies, 26 of which were founded by women, with a 2.15x ROI.
Global Nomads Group is well positioned to make its next strategic move from connecting students one school at a time to connecting entire school districts. They have partnered with the Kentucky Educational Development Corporation (“KEDC”), which provides educational support services for 68 school districts in Kentucky, and Madrasati, an initiative of Queen Rania of Jordan, which aims to upgrade the physical infrastructure of more than 500 public schools as well as implement needs-driven educational programs. In partnership with KEDC, Global Nomads will connect schools via Polycom video technology in Pakistan and Kentucky to support the state’s global citizenship initiative. Global Nomads and Madrasati will also connect charter schools in New York over Polycom video with schools throughout Jordan. Two representatives from KEDC joined Polycom on this delegation, and we had the pleasure of meeting the leaders of Madrasati, who are excited about working with Global Nomads to leverage technology to increase connectivity across the globe.
This delegation trip was all I had hoped for and so much more – career development and learning on multiple levels. The Polycom team learned more about how our technology is delivering on our vision to transform human collaboration, about the people and culture of Jordan, about the US Embassy’s goals related to cultural exchange, more about Global Nomads and its 15 year partnership with Polycom, about how Jordan is approaching tech innovation in MENA, about each other and the others who were on this trip with us – and then much, much more.