Wednesday, July 01, 2009

As they say.... The World is IBM’s Classroom

I've been thinking of writing this post for quite sometime now... I need to document some of my experiences that I had over the past few months...

Being an IBMer gives me a great sense of pride because of the kind of work that our company is involved. Many of you would have seen adverts of IBM showcasing the Smarter Planet strategy. While I would reserve my discussions about the Smarter Planet strategy to some other day, I want to write about another initiative that IBM started last year called IBM Corporate Service Corps, which is a corporate version of the Peace Corps.

What is IBM Corporate Service Corps?

IBM Corporate Service Corps (generally called as IBM CSC) program is part of the Global Citizen’s Portfolio initiative announced by CEO Sam Palmisano last year (2008), to develop leadership skills while addressing socio-economic challenges in emerging markets.

The Corporate Service Corps initiative involves IBMers who can contribute valuable and much-needed skills, talent, and capabilities in emerging market countries and help make an impact in that country.

Through this program, IBM aims to train a new generation of truly global leaders by exposing them to diverse cultures, policy environments and different societal expectations, because this is the 21st context for business.

You can ask - What is the benefit for IBM to do such a program?

The Corporate Service Corps provides a triple benefit. IBM gains leaders with a broader range of skills that can function in a global context. The individual participant gets a unique set of leadership opportunities and development experiences. And thirdly, the communities get IBM’s best problem solving skills.

In plain simple terms, through Corporate Service Corps, IBM sends selected candidates in batches of 8-15 ppl (from various countries) to various growing economies and emerging markets like Ghana, Tanzania, Romania, Philippines, Vietnam, Brazil, China and such countries. This batch of selected members would be working in the country for a month with various NGOs or government organizations or any type of industries that require professional help. We primarily do business consulting services to these organizations and help them solve their issues and lead them to a path of growth. And all these are done free of cost.

Prior to departure, the selected IBM teams engage in three months of preparatory work to learn about their team members, local customs, culture, language, their project goals and the socioeconomic and political realities of their destination countries. After the in-country service, the team shares their experiences to their local communities and IBM teams.

More than 5,000 IBM employees applied to the program and only 100 were selected for the first set of participants to be deployed to various countries during the second half of 2008. IBM selected another 100 for the 2009 spring batch and and has committed to enabling 600 to participate over the next three years. It is one one of the most competitive employee programs ever created by the company.

Recently, Buisness Week magazine featured the IBM Corporate Services Corps program in its issue highlighting it as a Game Changing Ideas for Business
Business Week Article

More information about the program can be found on the IBM CSC website

So, why am I writing about the IBM Corporate Service Corps program in my blog?

I got the news of my selection to the IBM Corporate Service Corps program in November 2008 and joined 7 other IBMers from five countries around the world on a special assignment in Takoradi, Ghana as members of the IBM Corporate Services Corps program from February 20th to March 20th 2009.

More about my experiences working in Ghana and interacting with the local people - in the next few posts.

*The posts on this blog are my views and don't necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions...