As part of a year-long observation of the fifth anniversary of the IBM Corporate Service Corps, the U.S. State Department convened hundreds of public and private sector
leaders to share perspectives on leadership development through citizen diplomacy.
Below, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Stanley S. Litow shares his thoughts on the importance of Corporate Service Corps to its constituents,
its participants, and to those who would pursue solutions to global societal challenges through citizen diplomacy.
Modeled on the Peace Corps, IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) helps us focus the expertise and passion of our most talented executives and employees on creating real and sustainable value across a smarter planet. Each year for the last five years, CSC has sent 500 of IBM’s best people – along with employees from some of our clients – to more than 30 countries to help local stakeholders develop strategies to manage their toughest challenges. As the program marks its fifth year, we celebrate the more than 2,200 IBMers who have deployed on more than 750 team assignments around the world. In places like Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco, Nigeria and Vietnam, these citizen diplomats have worked alongside local governments, NGOs and residents to plan and develop programs to provide health care for poor women and children, create clean water and food safety initiatives, and build skills to help strengthen economies.
Corporate Service Corps delivers a “triple benefit”: Communities have their problems solved; Participants receive leadership training and development; and IBM develops new markets and global leaders. Some of IBM’s most skilled technologists, researchers, engineers, finance experts and consultants – working in teams of six to 12 experts drawn from more than 50 countries – contribute their unique skills and perspectives to each engagement. Each sets out to change their views of cultural differences as they collaborate to help solve problems in communities around the world.
This innovative idea that owes its inspiration to President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps has evolved into a powerful force by harnessing the power of the public and private sectors to solve problems no single entity can overcome alone. The results have helped bridge the divides between cultures and geographies – broadening cultural awareness, advancing skills, and capturing the hearts and minds of the next generation of global leaders.
We look forward to the coming era of global citizen diplomacy as more companies answer the call to service. Working together, we know we can bring about meaningful change.
Stanley S. Litow is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation.