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‘You really just need to be there…’

Stryker employees give back to community with Bigs in Business programs

Stryker employee Ross Nave is a Kalamazoo Public Schools graduate who was looking to give back to the schools. He also was ready to become a Big Brother. Then his company made it possible for him to do both during the work day.

Three Stryker divisions (Medical, Instruments and Corporate) are now home to Bigs in Business programs. Collectively, these programs will allow more than 30 high school students to receive the guidance of a mentor. The programs also allow Stryker employees the opportunity to give back to the community.

“I enjoy the Bigs in Business model because we all meet as a group and it allows us to build a sense of community with the Bigs and Littles,” Nave says. “I also like that it allows the Littles to learn more about the professional world and the opportunities available.”

Giving local students the opportunity to experience the professional world is an important part of the program, says Dena Truelove, a Big Sister and Stryker human resources staff member.

“I’m so thankful that Stryker gives us this option. Opening the doors and letting kids in the community come in so we can show them how they can get into healthcare – you don’t get that in every company.”

That thought is echoed by Gina Schiming, a senior demand management manager for Stryker Surgical. Schiming says she appreciates the opportunity to foster her Little Sister’s talent and to see the impact it has on the community.

“We are proud of where we work and we truly enjoy showing that off and hope that they are inspired to join us one day,” Schiming says.

Truelove says that from the company’s standpoint, the Bigs in Business program is great for employee engagement. “Employee engagement is a big part of who Stryker is. Giving back to the community is built into our culture.

“Stryker likes employees to find something they are passionate about and to see them give back to the community. In the end, it makes for better employees and better people.”

Truelove says that Stryker leadership encourages participation and is always excited to hear about Littles. “Sometimes you get caught up in the everyday grind and this gives us the chance to pause, take a breather, and give back.”

Being a Big through the Bigs in Business program has been surprisingly easy, Schiming says. “You really just need to be there, listen, and show genuine interest.”

What surprised Truelove the most about being a Big Sister were the small things.

“The kids aren’t looking for you to wave a magic wand and make everything better. They just want to be listened to.”