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Melbourne, Australia - 28 Apr 2008: One hundred IBM employees from 33 countries – including six from Australia and New Zealand – have been selected to participate in the company's new Corporate Service Corps program. The program is part of the Global Citizen's Portfolio initiative announced by CEO Sam Palmisano to develop leadership skills, while addressing socio-economic challenges in emerging markets.
Twelve teams of employees will be sent to Romania, Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ghana, and Tanzania in 2008 to work on projects that intersect economic development and information technology. The assignments were selected to use the skills IBM employees possess.
Nigel Davies, IT Architect from IBM Australia is going to Vietnam and said, "This is so many opportunities in one. An opportunity to grow personally, an opportunity to contribute to the human race, an opportunity to learn leadership at the tough end of things, but most of all an opportunity to really deliver IBM's promise of 'Innovation that matters for the world'".
More than 5,000 high-potential employees applied to the program and only 100 employees were selected, making this one of the most competitive employee programs ever created by the company. IBM will select another 100 before the end of year and has committed to enabling 600 of its emerging leaders to participate over the next three years.
"IBM is committed to sending hundreds of employees for at least the next three years to developing countries in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. It's a great initiative for everyone" said Andrew Hocking, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager, Australia and New Zealand. "In IBM, we develop 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 communities get IBM's best problem solving skills. It's a triple benefit.”
The program is part of IBM's Global Citizen's Portfolio announced last year, a suite of investments and programs to help IBM employees enhance their skills and expertise in order to become global leaders, professionals and empowered citizens in the 21st century workforce.
Kate Black, Software Education Manager from IBM Australia is going to Romania and said "I think leadership strengths are developed through life experiences; this fantastic opportunity will empower me to be a better leader in IBM. I believe the challenges of the program will enable me to develop a deeper awareness of my personal strengths and have a better capacity to inspire and empower others"
After a competitive bid process involving 32 global non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focused on volunteer placement of private sector professionals, IBM teamed with three: Citizens Development Corps based in Washington, D.C., Canada-based Digital Opportunity Trust, and Australian Business Volunteers. The NGO partners are a key part of the program's success, helping to identify the right projects and local organisations where IBM's emerging leaders, and the skills they currently possess, can have the most impact.
Michael Lynch, CEO of Australian Business Volunteers says that the relationship will allow the Asia Pacific communities to gain important skills from IBM staff. ‘ABV has been sending Australian volunteers to our region for over 27 years and enjoys a great working relationship with small to medium businesses throughout the Asia/Pacific,’ he said. ‘This is a slightly different approach where we are placing employees from one organisation in small teams of up to eight to complete specific assignments that will hopefully enhance the business acumen of the communities involved.’
Following is a list of countries and highlights of each mission:
Cagayan de Oro and Davao City, Philippines: create management information systems to track progress of loan and grant beneficiaries from the Philippine Development Assistance Program.
Danang City, Vietnam: support the rapid development of small and medium enterprises with the Danang Chamber of Commerce through the creation of training programs in information technology management.
Timisoara and Sibiu, Romania: identify small and medium enterprises with high growth potential requiring business training to tap into regional and global trade networks.
Izmir, in the Aegean region of Western Turkey: help local chambers of commerce and city councils to promote economic, social and democratic development.
Kumasi, Ghana: improve business processes and provide training for a network of small and medium enterprises trying to scale up their business models.
Arusha, Tanzania: assist a global microfinance organisation with market research and strategic plan development for expanding operations and services to entrepreneurs seeking microloans and business training services.
Prior to departure, the IBM teams will engage in three months of preparatory work to learn about local customs, culture, language, project goals and the socioeconomic and political realities of their destination countries. After their country service, employees will share their experience in their home communities and with the company.
IBM employees will be grouped in teams of eight representing different countries and business units. An important design point for the program is to provide high performance employees the chance to build networks with people they might never interact with. This will also enable employees to bring different perspectives and expertise to solving problems, as well as encourage interaction with people from different cultural backgrounds and traditions. In today's globally integrated economy the most successful leaders will be global citizens, able to understand and effectively collaborate with people from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
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