Helping Others, At Home and Abroad
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 Jan 1993, p. 159-169
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Creator
Haggerty, Daniel W., Speaker
Media Type
Text
Item Type
Speeches
Description
CESO, the Canadian Executive Service Organization: a successful volunteer development organization. Background history of CESO. Who CESO helps and how they are making a difference. Details of the organization and specific projects. A variety of programmes and projects wherein "CESO volunteers shared their skills in areas such as marketing, finance, engineering, resource management, human resource development and manufacturing with local enterprises." CESO has no political affiliations; rather a business-to-business development agency motivated by humanitarian, social and economic goals. Some founders and figures: 26 years, 8,000 volunteers. Three development assistance programs today: an overseas program in 49 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, funded from CIDA; the Canadian Native Program, supported by the Department of Indian Affairs; the Task Force on Central and Eastern Europe with funding support from External Affairs. Unique challenges faced by CESO. The impressive characteristics and activities of the Volunteer Consultants. A review of successes. How individuals and corporations might help. Significance and results of the programme for all involved.
Date of Original
14 Jan 1993
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
Daniel W. Haggerty President and CEO, Canadian Executive Service Organization
HELPING OTHERS, AT HOME AND ABROAD
Chairman: Robert L. Brooks
President, The Empire Club of Canada

Introduction

The Canadian Executive Service Organization, or CESO, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. For those of you who don't know, it consists of retired or semi-retired executives who volunteer as consultants for short-term projects in Canada and developing countries. So far, CESO has sent more than 8,000 Canadians to work on over 27,000 projects in Native communities in Canada and 58 other countries.

VCs, as they're known, have helped with projects as varied as running a pig farm in Estonia to helping a convenience store owner on a reserve in Northern Saskatchewan. The volunteers receive no monetary compensation, except for travel and living expenses and some "walking around money." Signing up for repeated stints from China to Zimbabwe, the VCs hardly fit CESO's popular description as "the paunch corps."

Dan Haggerty, the current President and CEO of CESO, has had a distinguished career in marketing. He has held several senior management positions with major multinational corporations including Colgate Palmolive, Beecham, Libby McNeill Libby, and Seagrams Ltd. Mr. Haggerty has lived in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia and has travelled throughout Europe and the Americas. With his varied experience it's easy to see why CESO would benefit from his stewardship.

With the Canadian Bankers Association, Mr. Haggerty is helping the former Eastern Bloc countries restructure their banking systems. Two of my retired colleagues have risen to this challenge: Bob Macintosh, past president of the CBA, travelled to the Czech republic, and Ken Mitchell spent some time in Lithuania and Poland. Personally, I've been asked to consider Sarajevo, but unfortunately my commitments at the bank have prevented my accepting.

As a member of both the Advertising and Sales Executives Club of Montreal and the Association of Canadian Advertisers, Dan has always been a keen supporter of the exchange of ideas and the transfer of skills. And he is here today to offer his insights into the Canadian Executive Service Organization.

Please join me in welcoming our distinguished guest.

Dan Haggerty

Thank you, Mr. President. Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen: It's an honour and a real pleasure to be with you today to talk about CESO, the Canadian Executive Service Organization.

You may not know much about us at this point, but I hope to be able to convince you during the next few minutes that we are one of the most effective and successful development organizations operating in the world today.

That's a pretty bold statement, so let me give you a bit of background on how we work and what we have achieved in our 26-year history. CESO is a unique and successful partnership of business and government. We're able to accomplish what neither of these sectors can do on its own.

Governments no longer have the financial resources to assist every community in need. Businesses, facing the challenges of recession and global competition, are often thinking only about how they can keep their own heads above water.

CESO has the special ability to link these two sectors. We combine the financial resources of governments and corporate contributors with the hands-on, practical experience of highly skilled Canadians who are prepared to offer their expertise as volunteers to help meet development needs here at home and abroad.

Whom do we help? Where are we making a difference? Well, for example, CESO has worked with a breeder of boa constrictors in Colombia, a breakfast cereal manufacturer in India, a fibreglass factory in China, a commodities exchange in Lithuania and a native-owned sawmill in British Columbia, to name only a few.

In every case, CESO volunteers shared their skills in areas such as marketing, finance, engineering, resource management, human resource development and manufacturing with local enterprises.

Let me add that we have no political affiliations, here or elsewhere. We're a business-to-business development agency motivated by humanitarian, social and economic goals. Our mission is to help transfer business management and technical skills from Canadians who have them to individuals and communities which need them.

We're not a charity. We do not give away knowledge and skills to people and communities that are already well established. Throughout our history, we have demonstrated that providing the right expertise--to the right communities--at the right time--can make a world of difference.

Our work doesn't simply put money in a community's pocket. It stimulates local employment, fosters trade, and improves economic stability. Each of our projects is a building block in a community's infrastructure--whether it be agriculture, industry, finance or government. When a community's infrastructure is strengthened, the more important issues of social justice and quality of life can flourish.

So, CESO is not simply about business. It's about helping people in Canada and 59 countries around the world to live more productive and dignified lives.

CESO was founded in 1967, our Centennial Year, when the eyes of the world were focused on Canada. With the generous help of the External Aid Office--the forerunner of the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA--we set out on our mission.

One of our founders, and still a dedicated CESO supporter today, is the Honourable Maurice Strong. Our first volunteer was Clifford Soward, who had just retired as president of Maple Leaf Mills. Clifford's project was in Tanzania, helping restructure its milling industry. Since those early days, more than 8,000 Volunteer Consultants have followed in Clifford's footsteps.

In the 26 years since 1967, we've completed more than 27,000 projects in over 100 countries. Last year alone, we did 2,200 projects, including 1,500 here in Canada with Aboriginal clients.

Today, we operate three development assistance programs.

The first is our overseas program. We currently operate in 49 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, all with funding support from CIDA. The typical overseas project lasts between two and three months and is usually undertaken by a single Volunteer Consultant.

In 1969, we realized there was a need to help Aboriginal communities here in Canada. So, with the financial support of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, we launched the Canadian Native Program.

This program provides technical and management assistance to Aboriginal peoples across the country. The typical Aboriginal project is within commuting distance of the volunteer's home, and involves a day or two per week, perhaps over several months.

As a matter of interest, Viola Robinson (who, as you know, is a member of our board) is convinced that CESO is really an Aboriginal concept. When the first Europeans arrived in North America, they faced a hostile environment and, had it not been for the welcome they received and the things they learned from the friendly Aboriginals who greeted them, they might not have been able to establish the roots that have led to the society we know today.

As a result, the Aboriginal meaning of the word CESO, according to Viola, is Can Europeans Survive Over here?

In 1990, we began our third program, in Central and Eastern Europe, with funding support from External Affairs through the Task Force on Central and Eastern Europe.

There is no precedent in history for "development" of the kind required in the 10 countries there in which we're working now: The Czech Republic and Slovakia, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.

The challenge is quite different from those in the Third World or here in Canada. Some of our volunteers are helping individuals on a one-to-one basis, as usual. But we have also been asked to advise governments as to which companies are worth privatizing, and which should be closed.

We have designed and delivered seminars to teach local bankers how to appraise companies being privatized and how to assess their needs for loans.

What we are being asked to do in Central and Eastern Europe is to help foster a quantum shift from the way people have been thinking and doing things for more than 50 years.

It's important to remember that these are sophisticated nations; they have vibrant cultures and traditions, and a high standard of education. Our volunteers are helping individuals change in very real ways within societies that are also changing dramatically. And, of course, all the relationships among those societies are also changing. And it's all happening extremely fast.

The dust, hopefully, will settle by the end of this decade, but in the meantime we at CESO are working harder than ever before. We support these three programs from our eight offices across Canada, which work closely with our Resident Representatives or agents in each of the other 59 countries in which we're active.

These statistics are impressive, but do you know what really makes a CESO project happen? A single Volunteer Consultant.

Today, there are 3,600 volunteers on our roster, which has to be one of the biggest resource banks of management and technical expertise in Canada More than 100 of them work in our offices across this country, helping with fundraising, recruitment, project evaluations, volunteer briefings, and publicity.

All 3,600 Volunteer Consultants are available to undertake projects in the field. Over the course of a year, about 25 per cent of them are actively involved in projects in Canada and abroad.

They range in age from about 30 to 80, with the average age around 60. About 15 per cent are women, and we're working hard to increase this number. Almost 60 per cent of them are retired, while 18 per cent still work full-time and 24 per cent work part-time.

They are the type of people who have been active throughout their careers. In every case, they now have the time and desire to share their particular skills with others.

Typically, CESO volunteers have a successful track record in business, the professions or the public service. We draw upon their education and lifetime of practical experience, often in the most senior positions.

And their fitness and enthusiasm for life is quite remarkable. I know of one volunteer who is 75 years old and went to Costa Rica on a project last year. He was very cross when he found out we couldn't get a special deal from the airline to carry his windsurfer, but he took it along anyway.

Since many communities we help are less sophisticated in their business skills and experience, our volunteers' broad understanding of traditional business principles is particularly valuable.

Within the last year, our roster of volunteers has included such well-known business people as Grant Reuber, former vice-chairman of the Bank of Montreal; Bill Clark, former dean of Ryerson's Business School; and Laurie Blachford, former president of Manitoba Hydro, all lending their unique expertise to CESO and our clients.

CESO volunteers are not paid for their services. However, their airfare and local expenses are shared by CESO and the community they're working with.

I'll leave it to you to figure out how much our consultants' time is worth in the regular business world. But based on a very modest consulting rate of $350 per day, used by the United Nations, the value of CESO volunteer time in 1992 exceeded $8 million!

Let me take a moment now to share with you a few specifics about what CESO has accomplished recently through our three programs.

In the Canadian Native Program, we gave training workshops for directors of Aboriginal capital corporations, to help them better understand their roles and responsibilities. And we worked with a band on a long-term plan for a recreational complex. The general store, restaurants and campgrounds are already completed, and plans for bus tours and a rodeo are well under way.

You may know that 1993 is the International Year of the World's Indigenous People. CESO is very proud of our work with Canadian Aboriginal communities. This year, we're committed to expand our services further, particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship for women, and community management and administration.

Overseas, a CESO Volunteer Consultant spent six weeks helping a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines upgrade its facilities and improve production. And in Panama, we helped develop a pilot project to train people in ecologically-sound techniques of land use, forest preservation and reforestation, as well as farm management.

In Central Europe, three young engineers who had set up a company to manufacture residential intercom and security systems asked CESO for basic management training. We sent them that, and a lot more!

Our Volunteer Consultant also taught them things they didn't even know they needed, such as market research, product costing, sales forecasting, and inventory controls.

Before the three-month assignment was over, the company's productivity had increased by more than 50 per cent, and annual sales were on their way to being tripled.

Another area CESO is becoming increasingly involved with is sustainable development. To celebrate our 25th anniversary last year--and Maurice Strong's tremendous contribution to world environmental issues--we established the Maurice Strong Trust for International Development.

Funds from this trust will be used to support environmentally beneficial projects in Canada and abroad. This follows the establishment in 1990 of a trust honouring Sonja and Tom Bata--both long-time supporters of CESO. That trust is being used to support projects in countries where Bata operates, particularly projects benefiting women.

As you can see, there are lots of things going on at CESO, and it may seem that we have all the help we need. But, in fact, there is a great deal that each and every one of you in this room can do to advance the work of our organization. Let me quickly outline how you can help.

As a representative of a corporation, you can do several things. First, become a CESO Corporate Member. Today, more than 300 of Canada's leading companies are corporate members of CESO. For small businesses, the average contribution is $1,000, but larger companies donate proportionately more.

Besides its value as a charitable contribution, your CESO Corporate Membership keeps you informed about new business opportunities we identify in Canada and overseas. Here's one example of how a CESO project can produce tangible business spinoffs:

Four years ago, one of our volunteers helped a private hospital in Thailand improve its administrative efficiency. A few months later, one of its senior managers came to Canada for a "reverse" project organized by the volunteer.

Last month, when I was in Thailand, I learned that this same hospital is now planning a major expansion and intends to use all Canadian suppliers, from the architectural and engineering consultants to the medical equipment they will be purchasing. The hospital had such a good experience with Canadians that it wants to continue the relationship today. In total, this project could represent a $40 million opportunity for Canadian business. And it all started with a CESO volunteer!

The second thing you can do is sponsor a specific project. Companies can sponsor a project in Canada or overseas. You may choose your project's industry sector or select a specific geographic region. If a current or past employee is a CESO Volunteer, you may wish to sponsor his or her project.

One company that takes its CESO sponsorship very seriously is Husky Injection Molding Systems. CESO Volunteer Consultant Herb Rees, who is here with us today, provides an example of this.

Herb retired in 1979 as vice-president of engineering for Husky. He signed up with CESO in 1982. Since his first assignment for us, in 1985, he has completed 14 projects in the Far East and Latin America. The people at Husky were so impressed by what he was doing for CESO--and by the international relationships he has forged for them--that they have financed his last three projects.

Third, you can encourage employees about to retire to consider becoming CESO Volunteers. CESO not only provides a unique way for your people to contribute their expertise to society; it's a great transition between full-time work and retirement.

Those of you who are here as individuals, not as corporate leaders, can also help CESO. First, become a volunteer yourself. Besides the satisfaction of sharing your specific expertise with those in need, you'll be furthering Canada's strong international reputation. Or, you can help bridge the gap between business and Aboriginal peoples here at home by making your experience available through the Canadian Native Program.

Second, you can make a direct donation to CESO. You may not be able to make yourself available, but your tax deductible donation can help someone else do so. Your contribution will be well-spent, since 90 per cent is applied directly to project costs. Funding from individuals like you and me is tremendously important in making our work possible.

I often say that the skills and experience of retired and semi-retired Canadians is one of the most under-utilized resources that Canada possesses. I hope in these remarks to you today that I've helped you also to appreciate this. There are not many organizations that give the same bang for the buck that CESO provides.

Because our experts are all volunteers, their cost-effectiveness is without question. The quality of advice they supply to our clients all around the world and here in Canada is as good as, and often better than, what is available from any other source. In the case of the overseas program, our Volunteer Consultants are great ambassadors for Canada--building bridges of understanding at the grass roots level that can benefit all of us in many unpredictable ways.

And last, but far from least, the CESO program is great for the volunteers themselves--men and women who have been active all their lives, active in their communities, active in their jobs, active in their schools and churches, active in their service clubs. Now that they are retired or semi retired, they don't want to just sit back in their rockers on the front porch or play golf every day.

CESO provides a means for them to continue to do what they have been doing successfully throughout their lives, and to continue to contribute to society and to the world in a very meaningful way.

One comment I hear from our volunteers time and time again: "Canada has been so good to me, and now I want to give something back." And give they do!

I know that many of you here today are either supporters of CESO or associated with organizations that already support us, and I thank you for that support. Now, however, I hope those of you who don't yet support us will seriously consider doing so. And when you're ready to step down from whatever position you presently occupy, think about joining our roster of Volunteer Consultants.

With CESO, everybody wins. Thank you very much.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Mary Byers, Author and Historian, and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada.

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Helping Others, At Home and Abroad


CESO, the Canadian Executive Service Organization: a successful volunteer development organization. Background history of CESO. Who CESO helps and how they are making a difference. Details of the organization and specific projects. A variety of programmes and projects wherein "CESO volunteers shared their skills in areas such as marketing, finance, engineering, resource management, human resource development and manufacturing with local enterprises." CESO has no political affiliations; rather a business-to-business development agency motivated by humanitarian, social and economic goals. Some founders and figures: 26 years, 8,000 volunteers. Three development assistance programs today: an overseas program in 49 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, funded from CIDA; the Canadian Native Program, supported by the Department of Indian Affairs; the Task Force on Central and Eastern Europe with funding support from External Affairs. Unique challenges faced by CESO. The impressive characteristics and activities of the Volunteer Consultants. A review of successes. How individuals and corporations might help. Significance and results of the programme for all involved.