Grand Circle hosted 20 MBA candidates from Spain's Basque region, courtesy of Boston College's Irish Institute
Alan and Harriet Lewis have always believed that philanthropy is not only good for a company's spirit and soul, but also fundamental to its long-term success. It's the driving force behind Grand Circle Foundation, which serves as the charitable arm of sister companies Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure Travel. When philanthropy is a direct component of a company's business model, both the workforce and the customer base are involved in a mission much larger than the business itself. In the case of Grand Circle Foundation, this means that every traveler and every associate of Grand Circle and Overseas Adventure Travel—both in Boston and worldwide—is a partner in our ongoing efforts to change people's lives.
When other businesses are interested in incorporating a similar model, Alan and Harriet enjoy sharing their passion and firsthand knowledge around corporate social responsibility—in fact, they've written numerous articles on the subject for Boston Business Journal and Travel Weekly. So when the Irish Institute at Boston College approached Grand Circle with a unique request, Martha Prybylo, Executive Vice President of People & Culture, was more than happy to comply.
In 2010, the Irish Institute brought a group of CEOs, managers, and directors from Ireland and Northern Ireland for a seminar at Grand Circle, which focused on Alan and Harriet's unique business model. The event was such a success, Brad Googins, Ph.D., an associate professor at Boston College's Carroll School of Management, recommended Grand Circle to host another discussion around corporate social responsibility for a group of 20 professional MBA students from the renowned Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao, Spain. The Spanish candidates were in the U.S. for a one-week exchange program, focusing on Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility.
While Alan and Harriet were traveling and unable to attend the event, Martha—no stranger herself to the importance of corporate social responsibility—hosted the group for breakfast and led a lively discussion. The topics ranged from the history of Grand Circle Foundation—including the valuable lessons Alan and Harriet learned from their mistakes early on—to the impact the Foundation has on the communities we support today. The Spanish candidates asked questions around the benefits of making philanthropy a part of Grand Circle's business strategy, engaging travelers and employees in the work of the Foundation, and deciding which projects to support in a world where the need is virtually everywhere. It was an enlightening day for all who attended, including the associates from Boston who stopped by to listen.
For a foundation dedicated to changing lives in the countries we visit around the world, it was a privilege to host future international business leaders who share Alan and Harriet's passion surrounding corporate social responsibility. We thank the Irish Institute for this special opportunity.
Featured in our July 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.