Coding it Forward: It isn’t just a slogan

Slalom Practice Area Lead Ryan Gilmour

Ryan Gilmour is Slalom's Practice Area Lead for Custom Development in Dallas. He is a .NET Architect with 12+ years in IT Consulting who enjoys the challenge of creating new and compelling solutions for customers.

Mostly likely anyone reading this has heard the phrase “Pay it forward”. Apparently in sociology this is known as “generalized reciprocity”. The idea that someone gives or performs a service for others with no expectation of receiving anything back in return. This past month I had the opportunity to see that concept come alive in a way that I found unique and compelling. That opportunity was DallasGiveCamp.

A little background on me. I am a technology consultant. I have held just about every role conceivable. I boil what I do down to enjoying working with customers to find new and compelling ways to enable their business through the use of technology. Every day is a new chance to make an impact. That is important to me both professionally and personally. At Slalom they take that idea and extend the concept to getting involved in our communities and encourage all of us, individually and as a team, to make a difference. This aspect of the company’s culture was very compelling to me when I joined.

Logo So how does DallasGiveCamp fit in? If you have ever donated your time or your money to a cause and been able see the impact on the recipients you know the feeling. But what if you could use the skills and expertise you use every day to see that same impact? For someone in technology that is DallasGiveCamp. It is the originating event to the now national GiveCamp program sponsored by Microsoft, run by volunteers and executed by technologists around the world.

Held each January, the event brings together developers, DBAs, designers, business analysts and project managers to help local charities. These community organizations are out in the trenches doing great work for the community on a shoestring budget. But even charities need websites, portals and applications and often that is too expensive and too daunting for small charities to tackle. That is where DallasGiveCamp comes in. Over the course of 3 days the GiveCamp teams work with local charities to bring to life their vision for a site, application or just learning how to use social media to better communicate to the people they serve.

This year (2011) it was a long weekend in January filled with caffeine, pizza and lots of team building for the Slalom team, and I think we did a pretty amazing job in 3 days. It has showed me how large an impact a small group of people can have on others. During the weekend a recurring catch phrase was used, “Code It Forward”. A play on “Pay it Forward”, I like the idea that I get to use my skills and knowledge in technology to help people who are helping others without any expectation or anticipation of compensation or reward. Getting to see the charity’s response to the team’s work really makes “Code It Forward” more than just a slogan.

If you want to know more about DallasGiveCamp visit: http://www.dallasgivecamp.org/

If you want to know more about the national GiveCamp program visit: http://givecamp.org/

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