NI Employees Go the Extra Mile to Make a Positive Impact

published

05.10.2022

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Like many people around the world, Regina Novaczky has felt tremendous sorrow watching videos of Ukrainian people being displaced from their homes. Regina’s sorrow was particularly acute knowing these refugees were so close to her home of Debrecen, Hungary, where she works as NI’s talent acquisition manager for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

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“I wanted to help people who’d lost everything and wondered if there was a way I could use my role at NI to do that,” said Regina. “We made a large company donation to relief organizations, which is wonderful, but I wanted to do something more—something ongoing to help them rebuild their lives.”

NI Restart: Helping Ukrainian refugees rebuild their lives

Regina spent a weekend in March sketching out her idea for a program—now called NI Restart—that would help Ukrainian refugees get back on their feet. Her idea was to provide them with an accelerated hiring process for jobs at NI’s EMEA sites along with customized benefits and housing support. She presented the program to her manager, NI Talent Acquisition Director Rick Morales, who immediately gave her the green light to make it a reality.

Everywhere I turned for help at NI, I found myself knocking on an open door. Everyone wanted to do whatever they could to make this happen. I’m so grateful to work at a company where people have so much heart. It was truly a companywide effort.

 

- Regina Novaczky

Over the next month, Regina collaborated with her colleagues across NI functions and global sites to work out NI Restart’s complex legal, compliance, and communication logistics. For example, they had to consider how they would promote the program among people living in refugee camps and how they would vet job candidates who’d lost their identification paperwork. NI launched Restart on April 4, working with organizations such as the Red Cross and Migration Aid to promote it.

“Everywhere I turned for help at NI, I found myself knocking on an open door. Everyone wanted to do whatever they could to make this happen,” said Regina. “I’m so grateful to work at a company where people have so much heart. It was truly a companywide effort.”

Regina Novaczky, EMEA Talent Acquisition Manager, NI

In late April, Regina and a group of NI employees went to a refugee camp near the Hungarian border to promote Restart. NI employees have also been promoting the program on their own social media pages, which has led to it being widely shared by people outside NI.

“It’s beautiful to see people feeling a sense of pride and ownership of this program—that it’s not just for NI, it’s for everyone,” said Regina.

NI has made its first few offers and already has plans to expand to a global framework to aid people after future humanitarian crises.

“It’s a program we hope to never need again, but if we do, we’ll be ready to help,” said Regina.

Providing relief at the border

In addition to the Restart program, NI Hungary employees have collected supplies for Ukrainian refugees and made several trips to the border to deliver them. Employees helped create a website for the Dorkasz Foundation in Hungary, which is hosting refugees, and also donated 80 computers to help the refugees connect with relatives and look for jobs.

Inspiring Action: NI’s 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy

Regina is one of many NI employees across the globe who have gone above and beyond their daily workloads to spearhead projects that exemplify our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy.
This strategy outlines how NI will build a better world by Changing the Faces of Engineering, Building an Equitable and Thriving Society, and Engineering a Healthy Planet. It puts forth 15 aspirational goals, and while each goal is “owned” by an NI employee for accountability, they were designed to inspire all employees to work together to achieve them.

Some examples of this inspiration and collaboration in action include our facilities team creating a global Zero Waste working group and working with our Healthy Planet employee group to create waste reduction strategies. And within our research and development team, one group of employees created a circular design working group to analyze the life cycle of NI products and identify opportunities to reduce their environmental impact, while another group spearheaded an effort to assess how we can make our products more inclusive to people of all backgrounds and accessible to people with disabilities.

NI SWAG Takeback: Keeping promotional products out of the landfill

Another example of this cross-company effort is our “SWAG (Stuff We All Get) takeback” initiative. When our company rebranded in 2020, from National Instruments with its longtime blue logo to NI with a fresh green look, we faced an eco-dilemma: What should we do with all our old promotional products, and how can we prevent future waste?

Julie Fisher, NI’s principal corporate social responsibility specialist based in Austin, Texas, took on the challenge of solving this problem. Like Regina, she discovered the project had a lot of complexities that take global coordination across NI’s functions and sites.

Julie Fisher, Principal Social Responsibility Specialist, NI

“We had closets full of old National Instruments-branded gear in our offices around the world. We had to figure out what types and quantities of products we had and how we were going to responsibly donate and upcycle them,” said Julie.

Julie worked with NI’s site leaders and procurement teams to inventory existing promotional products and create guidelines for their reuse and recycling. Each site is working with its local charities to donate durable goods. For example, in Austin we donated old National Instruments-branded water bottles, cooking utensils, and office supplies to Foundation Communities, a local organization that helps people get established in affordable housing after experiencing homelessness.

The guidelines challenge sites to upcycle T-shirts and other branded apparel. During Earth Week in April 2022, NI Austin held a T-shirt takeback event where employees brought in their old shirts and made them into dog toys for local animal shelters.

NIers celebrate Earth Week by repurposing old shirts into dog toys.

“The hands-on engagement helps people shift their mindset about waste. I love inspiring people to see that small actions can add up to big impact,” said Julie.

Julie also worked with NI’s brand team to curate a small collection of new promotional products with NI’s logo, using recycled materials whenever possible. She worked with the team to create sustainability guidelines to ensure employees order the minimum amount of products needed for events versus keeping a large inventory. Teams are encouraged to come up with creative alternatives to distributing branded gear: in lieu of SWAG, we recently gave our partners at Girlstart passes to the Thinkery, a local children’s museum and NI’s partner in the C.R.E.A.T.E. program for STEM education.

NI STEM Room: Inspiring Costa Rican children to discover STEM

Our team at NI Costa Rica has also come up with ways to unite local STEM education partners for greater impact. In 2020, Andres Gonzalez, a staff technical support engineer at NI, led a project to create a STEM Room at the Children’s Museum of Costa Rica. The room invites young children to solve puzzles using robots powered by NI products. The goal is to introduce them to STEM education in a fun, hands-on way.


This project opened an opportunity to partner with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to add a new agriculture-related program in the STEM Room.
NI Costa Rica employees Hans Acuña, Jessica Diaz, and Sebastian Murillo Mora have worked together to create a harvesting robot that children can use to pick plastic strawberries. The robot can sense which berries are red and ripe and which are green and still growing, which promotes sustainability by preventing food waste.

“Even fields like farming have changed and now rely heavily on technology,” said Sebastian, who works as a staff technical support engineer. “We want kids to discover that STEM skills will help them in any future career they choose.”

This summer, we will release our 2021 Corporate Impact Report sharing more stories about how NI employees are making a positive impact on society and our planet. In the meantime, we invite you to visit our Corporate Impact experiences at NI Connect Austin, May 24–25, 2022.