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IBM Selects 200 New Global Leaders for the Corporate Service Corps to Tackle Socioeconomic Problems in Key Emerging Markets

IBM Selects 200 New Global Leaders for the Corporate Service Corps to Tackle Socioeconomic Problems in Key Emerging Markets

Published 03-19-09

Submitted by IBM

ARMONK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 03/19/09 -- Two hundred of IBM's (NYSE: IBM) future leaders from nearly 40 countries will participate for international assignments to emerging markets in 2009 as part of the company's Corporate Service Corps program, part of the Global Citizen's Portfolio initiative announced by CEO Sam Palmisano.

Now in its second year, IBM's so-called "corporate Peace Corps" is sending teams of employees to nine emerging countries to work on projects that intersect economic development and information technology. In 2009, IBM is sending participants for the first time to Brazil, China, Malaysia and South Africa and will return to Ghana, the Philippines, Romania, Tanzania and Vietnam. The assignments are being selected to use the skills IBM employees possess in areas such as information technology, business consulting, marketing, finance and supply chain management.

See audio slideshow on IBM employee experience in Ghana:

According to Stanley S. Litow, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, IBM, "The Corporate Service Corps helps high-potential employees develop smarter leadership skills while engaging organizations in emerging markets and helping them grow their business. Not only do participants learn first-hand how business is done in local communities, but they share what they know with colleagues back home and gain a personal understanding of what it means to be a global citizen."

Last year, the Corporate Service Corps worked on 36 projects that helped local businesses, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions improve their use of new technologies and expand their global reach. They included:

  • In Ghana, participants helped launch a center for business development and offered workshops to prepare students and women entrepreneurs for careers in technology and business.

  • Participants in Romania worked to identify small and medium enterprises with high growth potential requiring business training to tap into regional and global trade networks.

  • In Tanzania, teams worked with the Africa Wildlife Foundation to
    overhaul their financial management practices and develop strategic plans
    for wildlife management.

  • Participants in Vietnam supported the rapid development of small and medium enterprises with the Danang Chamber of Commerce through the creation of job training programs in information technology management.
The Harvard Business School recently studied the impact of the IBM Corporate Service Corps (see evaluation) and found that participants
significantly increased their cultural intelligence and resilience as a leader as a result of the program. According to Christopher Marquis, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School, "We found that the experience gained by people working in teams on-the-ground in emerging markets made them much better equipped to deal with adversity and challenges -- an important factor in today's global age of distributed work, where there is a high level of ambiguity and lack of control."

Harvard also surveyed 31 of the local "project hosts" to assess their satisfaction with the program. The vast majority cited improvements in their internal business processes and their ability to forge new and stronger partnerships with other private sector, NGO and governmental agencies in-country as a result of their work with the IBM Corporate Service Corps.

Following is a list of countries and projects slated for 2009:

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil: help urban community organization plan global expansion and develop strategies for a national conservation group to market "green" products and services.

  • Sichuan, China: work with businesses in the earthquake-ravaged Sichuan province on economic revitalization strategies.

  • Takoradi, Ghana: improve businesses and supply chain processes for small and medium enterprises in Ghana's burgeoning oil and gas industry.

  • Iasi, Romania: identify small and medium businesses with high growth
    potential requiring business training, and help with telecommunications, financial management and business process development.

  • Cape Province, South Africa: identify ways to improve management and
    planning skills for non-profit and refugee support organizations.
The Corporate Service Corps groups IBM employees in teams of 8 to 10, representing dozens of 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. More than 5,000 high-potential employees applied for 200 openings in the program this year, making it one of the most competitive employee programs ever created.

Prior to departure, the IBM teams will engage in three months of preparatory work to learn about global teaming, cultural adaptability, corporate social responsibility, language, project goals and the socioeconomic and political realities of their destination countries. After their country service, employees share their experience in their home communities and with the company.

IBM is teaming with three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused
on the participant placement of private sector professionals: 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 organizations where IBM's emerging leaders, and the skills they possess, can have the most impact.

The Corporate Service Corps is part of IBM's Global Citizen's Portfolio, a suite of investment programs to help IBM employees enhance their skills and expertise in order to become global leaders, professionals and empowered citizens of the 21st century workforce. It also includes matching accounts for lifelong learning and enhanced transition services to create second career opportunities.

For more information about IBM, please visit:

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Innovation – joining invention and insight to produce important, new value – is at the heart of what we are as a company. And, today, IBM is leading an evolution in corporate citizenship by contributing innovative solutions and strategies that will help transform and empower our global communities.

Our diverse and sustained programs support education, workforce development, arts and culture, and communities in need through targeted grants of technology and project funds. To learn more about our work in the context of IBM's broader corporate responsibility efforts, please visit Innovations in Corporate Responsibility.

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