Bringing innovation across borders

  • Posted on April 30, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Chicago Innovate

Our regional !nnovate events host very special Makeathons which are designed to bring everyone in the area together, solve for thought provoking challenges, build our culture of innovation and inspire our people, to name just a few things. But even though the events are regional, they’re happening all over the world, meaning we’re all celebrating innovation together during the months of March and April. This year, the Innovation team saw an opportunity to take that concept to the next level by bringing Avanade team members from across the globe face to face. Crucial to innovation is diversity of thought, and what better way to fuel our culture of innovation than to bring people with different backgrounds and perspectives together?

For the Midwest !nnovate Event, it wasn’t just Avanade employees from the central U.S. traveling to  Chicago; for the first time ever, three team members from Milan – Luca Giovacchini, Sonia Cavalliere and Adriana Santacroce – were chosen to attend the event as Innovation Ambassadors from Italy (it seemed only fair, considering Avanade Innovation Ambassadors from across the world will be traveling to Milan come the !nnovate Summit in June).

Matt Joe, Avanade’s Chief Technology Innovation Officer, worked with Avanade’s HR department and Regional Leadership to introduce this new program for our people.  “We are a more innovative company when we tap into our culture of cultures,” Matt said.

To Jeff Vilimek, the Innovation Lead for North America, the ambassadorship was an opportunity to share what’s going on at Avanade on a global scale.

“Having them come and participate with us and be on our teams and talk to our people, I think that’s a really great opportunity for both regions,” Jeff said. “I would expect that they’re going to have the most immersive, differentiated experience. That word ambassador is something to double down on – they’re going to come here and get immersed for two days. They’re going to learn all about how we work and what our people are like and what our business is like. But as ambassadors, they then bring that back. They have a job to do after the fact as well.”

Luca, Sonia and Adriana were each placed into a different one of the 33 teams tackling three challenges over the course of the three days: The Future of Food, Social Tech Connecting Those in Need, and Intelligent Engagement for Our People. As the event got started, all three were excited to see how the Avanade culture they’re so familiar with extended to a new part of the world.

“I’m in another part of the world, but I feel at home with people who are my colleagues,” Luca said. “We feel that we’re sharing the same mindset, the same culture, and the same challenges.”

While there was much that felt similar, Sonia remarked that she was excited to bring differences from her own cultural background to the table to help her team.

“I think that we can bring a different approach to activities or design thinking because we might have a different vision,” she said. “I think that this will be an experience that probably can help me to increase my capabilities and skills because even just with the kickoff, I saw many things that are different from how we approach them in Italy.”

Adriana, whose team won The Future of Food challenge, said she enjoyed challenging her team to think from other perspectives. As for what she looks to bring back to Italy, she cited the optimistic attitude of her Midwestern teammates.

“The philosophy of Avanade is that even the smallest idea can make a big impact,” she said. “The fact that we spent two days sharing and communicating with other people can only help that.”

None of the three had been to Chicago before, and though the event was a big success, one crucial question remains: What did the travelers from Italy – birthplace of pizza – think of Chicago deep dish?

“It was very different from our pizza, but it’s very tasty and appetizing,” Sonia said with a smile. “I’ll never forget it.”

Stella Goulet

I had a great time being a judge at the New York make-a-thon. The teams came up with such interesting and inspiring ideas. Can't wait to see the finalists at !nnovate in Milan in June.

May 22, 2019

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