By Tom Martin, Product Manager at Pacific Gas & Electric, HOPE Corps Volunteer

Tom Martin serves as a Business Role Model at Westlake Middle School in Oakland for our HOPE Business in a Box Academy program. Tom joined the Operation HOPE Youth Empowerment Board for the Bay Area this year and shared a little about himself and how he got involved with HOPE. This is what he had to say:

After several years as an Electrical Engineer, I went back to school to get my MBA from Notre Dame. Now I work as a Product Manager for the Emerging Grid Technology team at Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco. I love getting to interact with both internal and external customers to help bring new technology into PG&E that makes our electric grid safer, more reliable, and more affordable for our customers. Even before getting involved with Operation HOPE, I have always focused my volunteering efforts around helping children. I used to be a Junior Achievement classroom instructor, spent a number of years as a volunteer middle school football coach, and worked as a pro-bono consultant for KIPP Inspire Academy to help develop their business plan as they looked to expand their number of schools in the St. Louis area (my hometown).

Last year, I was visiting Yosemite National Park and the only radio station I could find was some AM talk radio. While I would normally prefer some music, this turned out to be a great blessing because it was a recording of John Hope Bryant’s talk at the Commonwealth Club of California on the topic of how the poor can save capitalism. That was my first introduction to John and some of his background and I found it fascinating. I immediately went out and bought his book and was very excited about the Business in a Box program. I reached out and was connected with Becca Blanco who got me setup as a business role model helping to work with students to bring their company from an idea to market.  

My first business that I have been lucky enough to get partnered with is K&I Pop, a popcorn company started by Khyla and India. It has been really awesome watching them take this idea from a pitch to a ready to launch business over the course of the past 10 weeks. These girls have really grown and developed, and their business plan has developed along with them. Getting to be a part of their growth has been really awesome and I am counting down the days until I get to be their first customer! “

Tom is a committed and hardworking volunteer who strives to help the generation of future business owners. We are very fortunate and grateful to have someone as dedicated as Tom empowering the youth.