There’s perhaps nothing more inspiring than being in the presence of someone who has found their purpose and passion. They’re dedicated, enthusiastic and always ready to tackle the next challenge. Whether it’s the job they’ve always dreamed of or a more coincidental aligning of the stars, they truly love what they do.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to look far to find some great examples here at Levi Strauss & Co. — and Kimberly Almeida, senior program manager for the Levi Strauss Foundation definitely fits the bill.
“My dream job is one that allows me to grow in areas that fulfill me personally while having a positive impact on people’s lives,” Kim said. “I’ve found that role with the Levi Strauss Foundation.”
Here’s a little more about her position and why she finds it so rewarding.
What does your job entail?
As senior program manager for the Levi Strauss Foundation, my job is a perfect combination of human rights grant-making, international development, supply chain engagement and corporate responsibility. The two main components of my job include making grants to innovative organizations that are driving social change in the Americas and Europe, and co-leading the company’s Worker Well-being initiative, which works with our supply chain partners to implement factory-based programs that improve the lives of apparel workers and also help the bottom line.
Why is it your dream job?
I love the work that I do and how it enables me to collaborate with teams from various parts of the business on an issue I care deeply about: the well-being of people who make our products. I also get to connect with incredible external grassroots organizations focused on human rights issues (such as HIV/AIDS advocacy and women’s rights groups) around the world.
Plus, I cannot downplay the importance of having a manager who cares. The foundation’s executive director, Daniel Lee, is a great leader who provides constructive feedback and regularly challenges me to grow in new ways.
What’s something about your job that would surprise people?
As part of my work to create and support partnerships with pioneering NGOs, I often have the chance to visit our supplier factories and meet the women who make our products. I find it rewarding and humbling to hear how the programs we fund are having an impact on their lives. For example, on a recent trip to Haiti a worker at our supplier factory shared how she is saving a portion of her salary after participating in a financial literacy and matched savings program that we supported.
I also feel fortunate that I get to interact with members of the Haas family (descendants of Levi Strauss himself), who serve on the LSF board. Hearing them describe the legacy of Levi Strauss and how critical it is for us to be bold, be pioneering and trust our gut instinct is inspiring!
What was your career path to this job?
Wow — my parents would say that the path started in childhood. I grew up in Guatemala, during the civil war, and my father is an electrical engineer who worked at factories. He often encouraged me to skip school and travel with him to sugar refineries and banana plantations. During these “field trips” I was exposed to the drastic inequality and human rights abuses that existed (and sadly still exist) in the country. These early experiences still drive my career choices to work with the most vulnerable and ignored communities.
Prior to joining the Levi Strauss Foundation, I worked in international development, corporate social responsibility, philanthropy, supply chain and labor consulting. All of these jobs entailed working with local groups in developing countries, and building networks and partnerships.
I always tell my friends that I see the underbelly of globalization — I don’t travel to particularly glamorous locations but I do see the realities that make our consumer-driven world possible.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A tiger trainer!
What’s on the horizon?
The Levi Strauss Foundation is always looking ahead to the next frontier in social change! I am most excited about the expansion of our Worker Well-being initiative, which I believe has the potential to transform the industry. Of course the challenging piece is capturing the impact — both on the lives of female apparel workers and on the factory’s productivity.
What advice would you give to others who are working toward their dream job?
Be patient, embrace every opportunity as a chance to grow and be humble but ambitious in your career. I feel like humility is such a great trait that doesn’t get enough attention. Also, find something that you’re passionate about. For me, my personal and professional interests are one and the same.
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