Alcoa included a Build-A-Bike ® team building event in their annual Best Practices conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this week. They wanted to give the participants a fun, energetic team building experience that included an element of philanthropy. Alcoa is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. In addition to inventing the modern-day aluminum industry, Alcoa innovation has been behind major milestones in the aerospace, automotive, packaging, building and construction, commercial transportation, consumer electronics, and industrial markets over the past 125 years. Alcoa employs approximately 61,000 people in 30 countries across the world. This group of 250 people gathered from four major business units across the globe.
Build-A-Bike is a series of activities, challenges and exercises that test a group’s ability to share information and resources, as well as their ability to approach problems from different perspectives. This event proved to be a real challenge for some of the more linear thinkers in the group, but once they could see that there is more than one way to solve a problem, they were successful in completely the task. At the end of the event, the group had built 40 bikes and had a great time together.
The bikes were donated to the Sarah Heinz House, which is a Boys and Girls Club in a neighborhood of Pittsburgh to which Alcoa has strong ties. The event was held in the convention center in downtown Pittsburgh, in one of the exhibition halls. As the group was gathered for a group photo and some closing remarks from their CEO, the rolling door at the far end of the hall began to slowly go up, and a school bus with 40 ecstatic kids on it came driving right into the hall! The looks on the kids’ and adults’ faces alike were priceless. The kids didn’t know what they were getting, and the adults had no idea that kids would be there! It was one of the best endings we’ve seen to this event.
In nearly every community across the country, there are kids whose families aren’t able to provide new bikes for them. If you are looking for a powerful way to give your team a really fun experience while giving back to the community, Build-A-Bike is a must-have team building event for your next conference!
Ellen Patnaude is Vice President of Instruction for the Northeast region. She is based in Detroit, Michigan, but she also teaches in Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toronto, Baltimore and other Northeast cities.