When it comes to understanding education and its critical importance to country and society, Leo Steiner, a vice president for IBM in Austria, takes pride in leading by example.
"Education is the foundation for the future of our society," says Steiner. One of the key projects Steiner is involved with is Children's Business Week, a yearly event designed to convey valuable business skills to children. At a recent event, Steiner spoke to an assembly of children about ways they could help make our planet smarter in their everyday lives.
Steiner — like other senior managers in Austria — is also leveraging tools in IBM’s On Demand Community to further his work in the community. On Demand Community is a strategic global online community that combines the skills of over 165,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative IBM technology, resources, training, and support.
KidSmart, TryScience and reaching out
Information Technology expertise is now considered to be the fourth essential cultural skill people must learn in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. Without this skill, they will considerably decrease their chances on the job market. Disadvantaged population groups in Austria still have a way to go in order to catch up to the others.
Other senior IBM managers across Austria are joining Steiner in supporting education. Axel Preiss, an IBM sales executive in Austria, has been working with the elementary school Judenplatz, using the TryScience experiment "Speed, Eggs and Slam," to explain Newton's Law of physics. "The Institute for Educational Research already predicts an annual shortfall of 1000 technicians in Austria as of the coming year," says Preiss. "My TryScience work aims to show children that science and technology are actually a lot of fun, and not just dull theory."
IBM’s public sector manager in Austria, Guenter Popek, volunteers his time and talent with the bilingual education organization Komensky. Popek is helping them deploy IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Program via the “Introduce Young Children to Technology” On Demand Community solution. So far, the KidSmart Program has enabled more than 60,000 children in Austria to learn how to use computers.
Helmut Kothbauer, an IBM branch office manager in Salzburg, is working with the House of Nature Science Museum, to launch the On Demand Community “Science experiments” solution with members of his team. "The TryScience engagement of the IBM team has made it possible for students to explore their fascination about science and technology. Sciences are explained in a hands–on and a vivid way," says Dr. Eberhard Stüber, Director of House of Nature.
Living Corporate Social Responsibility
For the executives in Austria and more than 430 other On Demand Community members in the country, volunteering and outreach is making a real difference and helping the Austrian team to embody corporate social responsibility that is reflective of the IBM brand. "I experience corporate social responsibility in the local business as both an answer to open calls for tender and as a door opener to public authorities," says Steiner. "As a result, the Country Integration Team is fully engaged with IBM's volunteer corporate philanthropy initiative On Demand Community."
IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.