Making a difference in people’s everyday lives is all part of the job for Cosimo Scarano. Working with corporate social responsibility, he helps people in Curitiba, Brazil, change their lives for the better by providing culinary training in an Electrolux kitchen. This is the fourth in a series of stories where we spotlight employees who have been nominated by their co-workers as role models in how to shape living for the better.
Originally from Italy, Cosimo is now the project leader for Education for Employment, an Electrolux Food Foundation project where unemployed people learn new skills so as to not only help find a job to provide for themselves and their families, but also see how to do it in a sustainable way, generating zero waste.
What does shape living for the better mean to you?
It is giving other people the chance to improve their lives. We work with people who take the chance to change their situation – they have no prospects for the future. My job is shaping their lives for the better.
We give these people a dream and a purpose. I can see in their eyes when they come in that few have hope. But we help them to believe in themselves again and see that they can get a job and provide for their family after taking our cooking classes.
Our part of the job is in the kitchen and to pass on to them a new hope that their life will matter. The goal for them is to have a cooking job within six months after finishing the program.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
It’s the reason I applied for the position – l love working with people and addressing social issues. This job allows me to work with my beliefs and values and implement our purpose.
Why are you passionate about your role?
I feel I am making a contribution to society – I am giving back. I can actually see the results every day, the impact I am making on these people. I am providing new and better customer experiences.
What do you think it takes to succeed at Electrolux?
Being passionate and aligned with the values and purpose of the company. This is such a great place to work. In so many ways, you feel quite free to go for it.
This is a place where you can work in the way you want, achieve results that are satisfying for you and the company as well. I feel this is because of the purpose that pushes people to give their best in the company and to deliver the best version of themselves.
Tell us about a particular time when you knew you were in the right role.
My role was not so easy in the beginning. Here in Brazil, the economy was bad and so was unemployment. So people did not think we should put money toward a corporate social responsibility project – they did not understand why it was so important.
But the end results we achieved were recognized both inside and outside the company. Social responsibility has changed and people look for it to improve the business. That was my biggest achievement as this was helping us to build a better company. Now people are looking for me and wanting to be involved as they are proud to be part of the project.
What kind of challenges do you face?
It was really hard at first. We had to build a gastronomy school from nothing. I dealt with venders to buy all the necessary kitchen utensils for the students. We had to deal with the student selection process and find the chefs who were trainers in the classes, and we also had to sign proposals with vendors.
As I am from Italy, I had no connections. I had to adapt the project to the local reality that 60% of people did not even have money to buy food, let alone to have food waste. We shifted the focus from food waste to giving people a new chance to enter the labor market.
What has been your biggest success?
Our biggest success was the ability to build such a beautiful project. Now we are getting hundreds of applications from people in the community who want to join the project.
What do you want to accomplish in your role?
I want to see this project grow and see others grow as well. Electrolux gains so much thanks to these projects. When I arrived here the company had no connection with local authorities, but we established one now thanks to this. We lifted the mood of our employees – they are proud that we are impacting people and contributing.
People from other cities want to know about and support us. This adds so much value to our day job. It helps us get bigger results. So what I want is to continue to work with corporate social responsibility. It makes me happy.
What does someone in your role do?
Deliver good social projects that align with the purpose of the company and contribute to its mission. This creates something meaningful for us and for society.