For Justice Sikakane, his first exposure to Junior Achievement made such an impression that today he serves as the chair of Cargill’s JA Corporate Council, a group of employees passionate about the JA mission who collaborate to promote and advocate for JA within their company.
Sikakane, the Salesforce.com administrator/configuration developer at Cargill, also personally volunteers between 12 and 18 hours a month through various JA programs.
“About a year ago, a colleague reached out to say there was a JA Hall of Fame induction ceremony she wouldn’t be able to attend and asked if I would step in for her? I said absolutely,” Sikakane says. “The event was really my first exposure to JA. Our former CEO Greg Page was being inducted into the JA Hall of Fame, and one of the students from Best Academy, Michael Underwood, was introducing him. From there, I started volunteering with different events like JA Job Shadow, JA BizTown, and really got exposed to JA and Cargill’s footprint with it.” Sikakane saw first-hand how the partnership between Cargill and JA brings opportunities to young scholars.
“JA is an opportunity to really empower students and Michael is a perfect example,” Sikakane says of Underwood. “He’s an aspiring student, very intelligent, very capable and with great potential. We want to empower students like him who aspire to that next level. And when we can share our experiences with those younger than us, it’s an opportunity to say, ‘Here’s what we learned and here’s what we’d like to provide you so you can do well and go beyond what we achieved.’ Having an opportunity to give back to students and see them evolve is a very rewarding feeling.”
In fact, according to a recent Cargill intranet article, JA has been “one of the more popular ways for Cargill employees to engage with communities.” Estimates say more than 200 Cargill employees a year in the Minneapolis metro-area volunteer with Junior Achievement.
“I am very passionate about the different opportunities we have with what we’re trying to achieve with JA and financial literacy, and by Cargill employees volunteering to help give students confidence and inspire them,” Sikakane says. “If we can get into the various communities now and educate them about us…the next future leader of Cargill may come from one of these schools.”