Loyalty to family. Loyalty to community. Loyalty to an employer. Are these things mutually exclusive?
Not if you embrace the Aloha spirit. CGI’s Sharisse Baltikauskas, a project management consultant, explains: “Aloha is a Hawaiian expression and means so many different things. It means love. It means hello. It means goodbye. But it’s also a spirit and a way of life—to always be welcoming to others. To always be loving to others.”
I have a soft spot for people
For Sharisse, who is Japanese and Hawaiian on her mother’s side, it’s the same spirit that guides her approach to volunteering and other corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities at CGI.
Her volunteer work has included support for Junior Achievement in Sacramento, where she and other CGI members have conducted STEM classes, resume-writing sessions and business lessons for high school students. CGI members in Sacramento also support Toys for Tots and the American Cancer Society and help distribute food for local food banks.
“The Aloha spirit is about reaching out,” says Sharisse. “It's why I do the things that I do. Helping those around me is my wheelhouse; it’s where I love to be. I have a soft spot for people.”
Over the years, Sharisse has also developed a soft spot for CGI. When she and her husband (who also works for CGI) had their second son, she was traveling a lot for work and decided to take some time off. But when it was time to go back to work, CGI was her first choice.
“I knew that I really, really, really enjoyed working there before," says Sharisse, "And my husband was still there and said the culture hadn't changed, and the reasons people at CGI do the things they do are still the same.”
That was just what Sharisse needed to hear, and after an 11-year hiatus, she returned to CGI.
“Knowing that CGI held the same standards I remembered made the decision a no-brainer for me,” says Sharisse. “And it didn't hurt that most of the people I had worked with were still there. It says a lot that after 11 years, they're still working there. That means it is a great company to work for.”
It's important to remember why I work hard
Upon her return, Sharisse was placed on projects that reflected her commitment to helping people in her community. These included government agencies providing health care and other services for children and low-income families. Sharisse enjoys the work because she can see the direct impact on people who need help.
“It's always that heart-string thing for me,” Sharisse shares. “It's the end result of knowing somebody is getting the health care they need because of the services we provide. Our work helps ensure people get health care who really need it and can’t afford it, usually because they’re in a situation that isn’t a result of their own choices.”
The project teams always keep pictures of children in their offices to remind them of the importance of their clients’ missions.
“We literally have pictures of children everywhere,” says Sharisse. “I think it's always good to have a reminder of the reason for what you're doing. Yeah, it’s my profession, but it’s important to remember why I work hard.”
Your opinion is valued here
This type of commitment is critical when serving public sector clients and has sustained a culture at CGI focused on service and partnership. The unique level of dedication is something Sharisse feels has been more than reciprocated during her career at CGI – and embodies the Aloha spirit.
“I've been back now for 11 years, and I love working for CGI,” says Sharisse. “The company treats its people as owners, and your opinion is valued here. I have loyalty for CGI because they have treated me well for a very long time.”
Read more CGI member stories in the Life at CGI blog series.