Doug Simon, CEO and President of D S Simon Media, sat down and talked with Jim Thompson, Director of Innovation for the Office of Global Partnerships at the US State Department, discussed the purpose of partnerships and the role that they play for the Department of State.
Jim illustrates how a partnership between Coca-Cola and the State Department plays a vital role in achieving goals for both parties:
“We’ve worked with them all over the world, mostly on water. So if you think about Coca-Cola, the primary component of its product is water. And they recognize that there’s water scarcity issues around the world. And they invest in access to clean water, not just for their plants, but for the people in their communities.”
“So Coke is a great partner of ours in helping us give clean water to developing countries, and developed countries, too, all around the world. And water is part of our National Security Strategy. It always has been, and we have worked closely with Coca-Cola on that issue.”
DOUG SIMON: Thanks for joining us. I’m Doug Simon of D S Simon Media, and I’m here with Jim Thompson, who’s Director of Innovation for the Office of Global Partnerships at the US State Department. Thanks so much for being with us.
JIM THOMPSON: Thank you for having me. This is exciting.
DOUG SIMON: Great. Now you’re going to be one of the key speakers at the upcoming COMMIT!Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility. Tell us what the Department of State is looking to do with global partnerships.
JIM THOMPSON: We are looking to expand the way that we do our diplomacy and our development work by working through and with partners to achieve our objectives. So we work a lot with companies and with some foundations to achieve our nation’s national security interests.
DOUG SIMON: So it sounds like there’s also some great opportunities when interests align for businesses and organizations to partner with you to help achieve both the countries goals and their goals.
JIM THOMPSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. So a great example of that is our work with Coca-Cola. We’ve worked with them all over the world, mostly on water. So if you think about Coca-Cola, the primary component of its product is water. And they recognize that there’s water scarcity issues around the world. And they invest in access to clean water, not just for their plants, but for the people in their communities.
So Coke is a great partner of ours in helping us to clean water to developing countries, and developed countries, too, all around the world. And water is part of our National Security Strategy. It always has been, and we have worked closely with Coca-Cola on that issue.
DOUG SIMON: If an organization wants to partner with you as part of this program, what are some of the best ways to proceed? Do they just call you up? Are you reaching out? What can you tell us?
JIM THOMPSON: So the best way to do it is to just get in contact with us. We don’t have a formal intake for partnership proposals. We are a very loose, open organization, always looking for an opportunity to connect with new partners and to figure out ways to [INAUDIBLE] program and think through things together. So we really like to not make it an application process for people to come into us but rather have more of a conversation and try to figure out what a company’s aims are and what our aims are and then see if there’s any overlap and an opportunity for us to build something together.
DOUG SIMON: Obviously, this tremendous political change in the US and around the world. What’s your best advice to help people navigate through that process given all this uncertainty?
JIM THOMPSON: So I’m always an optimist. I’m always looking for opportunities. I’m a civil servant so I’ve been in government now for 26 years. I’ve served five administrations, and you see them come and go. But always with a new administration there are new opportunities. And this administration has presented some really incredible opportunities.
I actually have seen huge benefits when resources are forecasted to go down. That’s an opportunity for us to think differently about how we do our work and how we accomplish our objectives. And in this case, with resources forecasted to decline for foreign assistance and for our operating budgets, we really need to think differently about who we are and what we do and how we do it. And this is a way for us to now think about bringing in new technology, new companies, new ideas into our work. And we’re see this all across the board, not only in our work around environment and around populations and democracy, but in our bread and butter stuff, in our [INAUDIBLE] and our visa programs.
And we’re now seeing a lot of offices come to us saying, hey, how do we do this? How do we get involved? Who else is interested in what we do? And how we work with them?
DOUG SIMON: Great. And hearing that makes me want to give a shout out to civil servants. Recently, I moved, had to change my driver’s license, couldn’t be more efficient. Now sometimes they get a bad rap, but it sounds like your team and organization is really trying to help others succeed and grow their businesses through partnerships that align with our national interests.
JIM THOMPSON: We’re there. So we’re there. Doesn’t matter what the administration is or the who administration is going to be. Your civil servant corp on our foreign service corp are there. We are there as a resource to help get the programs done.
Obviously, we take direction from the political teams when they do [INAUDIBLE] and how they lay out the objectives that we want to accomplish. But our goal will always remain the same, which is to provide the services to the US taxpayers.
DOUG SIMON: I’m really looking forward to hearing what you have to say at the COMMIT!Forum, and I hope a whole bunch of folks come out to check it out. Thanks so much for being with us.
JIM THOMPSON: Thanks. I’m excited. I look forward to meeting everyone.