Ruth CotterRuth Cotter first was inspired to become involved with the San Jose-Dublin Sister City Program four years ago after she met Sister Cities International’s Vice Chairman Tim Quigley. Although Ms. Cotter had seen the benefits from sister city partnerships during cultural events and exchanges both in San Jose and in Dublin, she was not fully aware of the extent of their partnership, or the 2,121 others that make up the Sister Cities International network.

After this first introduction, Ms. Cotter became active in San Jose Sister Cities, serving as a volunteer and Board Member for the San Jose-Dublin partnership. What she most enjoys about her involvement is creating and generating connections locally that spread internationally. She believes that the sharing and learning that occurs during sister city exchanges is energizing and when these connections are spread globally, especially through exchanges and delegations trips, they create a unique relationship between communities. For Ms. Cotter, a native of Ireland, the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in San Jose is made extra special by the delegation that visits from Dublin every year to join in the festivities. 

A highlight for Ms. Cotter was the opportunity to be a part of hosting the 2014 Sister Cities International Annual Conference. Ms. Cotter and her colleagues at AMD were blown away by the 2014 Annual Conference in San Jose. She said, “The variety of the global reach of the participants. The interest and energy from people wanting to share and learn in a very open and trusted environment that has been nurtured by Sister Cities International really gives us energy here at AMD as a company, and also as a global company. But to observe and be a part of that power and that energy is a great thing and we are very grateful to have the opportunity to continue to be involved and engaged.” 

For Ms. Cotter, being engaged in such worthwhile causes is an important part of her job at AMD. AMD is extremely active in corporate social responsibility, recently launching their 20th Annual CR Report, being named to Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s list of “100 Best Corporate Citizens” for the third consecutive year, and continuing to be on the cutting edge of corporate responsibility. “For AMD, our focus has really been on how we align our business strategy with driving opportunities to power life changing products and experiences for consumers, and how you can harness the power of the consumer as you think about the future of technology and where it may go. I think that there are a lot of parallels in terms of the Sister Cities’ global efforts… the corporate world and the grassroots work that’s done in cities globally.” The results can be seen through local efforts of the sister city programs in San Jose, providing scholarship opportunities for students to come to the heart of Silicon Valley and gain hands on experience that will be valuable to members of the corporate world looking to extend and provide further educational opportunities to youth and future or current employees.

As a corporate sponsor and member of Sister Cities International’s Eisenhower Circle, Ms. Cotter not only sees how AMD can benefit Sister Cities International but also how Sister Cities International can benefit AMD and other corporate partners. She finds that a valuable strength for corporate partners is that Sister Cities International “has a very strong finger on the pulse of what is occurring in a variety of global communities under one major umbrella.” The other unique quality of a sister city relationship that benefits companies looking to grow internationally is “the way each sister city member is so thoughtful about everything… if you’re looking to extend and expand business they provide a portfolio for everything from a manager of the hotel from a particular city that may or may not be making a pitch for incremental trade business, all the way through to peers who have already done a similar thing, all the way through to access to government affairs and relations to what you might need on the ground in a particular area. That is extraordinarily unique and I don’t know of any organization that can provide that portfolio/one-stop-shop without a political agenda. This is very differentiating and powerful and a testament to the efforts.”

As Sister Cities International looks to the future and how it can spread the message of Peace through People, Ms. Cotter sees the global ex-pat community as an invaluable resource since many have years of experience conducting business across cultures. When asked about Sister Cities International’s efforts to expand in the Middle East, Ms. Cotter said the Middle East “is one particular market where (ex-pats) can fast track relationships.” Reaching out to cultures that are different from one’s own can be a complex web. It can take a long time to build trust, which is why sister city partnerships are so important. 

What truly makes Sister Cities International stand apart? According to Ms. Cotter, “the power of sister cities at the global level is in the establishment of best practices and a gold standard. When you think about citizen diplomacy it is really fantastic, the efforts and progress that has been made on that front, and there is an opportunity to formalize it into corporate diplomacy… We have a tagline here at AMD which is ‘Enabling Today, Inspiring Tomorrow’ and if I think about our adjacent engagement with sister cities, whether it’s locally here in San Jose or whether it’s at the international level, I think it sums up both Sister Cities International and AMD; we’re all here to enable today but at the same time we’re trying to focus on inspiring tomorrow.”

Ruth Cotter is Corporate Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations at AMD and member of the San Jose-Dublin Sister Cities Board of Directors.