Wednesday, 26 January 2011

G20 magic: Norma Garcia of Consumers Union campaigns with CI London

Norma Garcia (Consumers Union of US Inc) reveals what it feels like to achieve success as part of the G20 Campaign for fair financial services.


Norma Garcia, second from left, in London with CI staff and members

After working on financial services issues for Consumers Union for over 18 years, I was delighted to accept the special assignment of a lifetime to join CI’s team in London to lend a hand to the G20 Campaign on Financial Services. With passport in hand and an open mind, I traveled from San Francisco to London for the first time ever. When I arrived in Paddington Station from Heathrow Airport, I was struck by the incredibly familiar Gothic architecture of the station which made me believe that this was the place from which Harry Potter and friends departed to the legendary Hogwarts. I searched in vain for the sign that read, 'Platform 9- ¾', looking for that gateway to the magical. Though it was nowhere to be found, I do believe the experience I had at CI in London was charmed nonetheless.

First, the staff at CI London was very warm and welcoming and the Campaign team is second to none. Added to this, the CI members were very excited about the campaign and were ready to use their energy to get the G20 to incorporate consumers into their agenda. In some ways, it was incomprehensible that the G20 had not already done this, yet this void created a huge opportunity for CI members to lobby the G20 on this very important issue.

Reaching out to CI members around the globe on multiple time zones was exciting and a bit surreal. From my communications with CI members involved in the Campaign, it was both exciting and impressive to see them fully engaged in their activities to promote the Campaign. It was also very clear that this process was ongoing -24/7 - around the globe, and that the momentum being created was unstoppable.

And then, after several weeks of heavy campaigning, there was the result. I remember walking into the CI building that Friday morning, when Joost (Director General at CI) approached me with a big smile saying, 'Did you hear the news? We got it! The G20 Communiqué includes much of our ask!' Of course, there is nothing better than spreading good news so we got right on it and started sending out communiqués to the members and the media regarding the great results.

Now, back at my office in San Francisco, I remember this experience with great fondness. Although 'Platform 9 ¾' was nowhere in sight during my four weeks in London, I feel like I found a perfect '10' in all respects. The people, the work, the results, none of it could have been better.

Looking ahead, as CI members, there is much work to do in the next few months and beyond to keep the momentum going towards an ultimate success. I look forward to continuing our work together and for now, with much gratitude for this chance to work with you, I say thank you, obrigado, terima kasih, gracias, danke, merci, dziękuję and arigato!

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