IBM’s founder coined the phrase “world peace through world trade” more than 100 years ago. Taking that phrase to heart, the company opened offices in Brazil in 1917,
The Philippines in 1925, and China in 1936 as we established that being a good global citizen was good for the world – as well as for business. Today’s IBM is a globally integrated enterprise with clients and employees from every part of the world. Our diversity – and the diversity of the markets in which we operate – necessitates the adoption of a truly global perspective on our operations, on leadership development, and on delivering results for our clients.
We launched the IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) – inspired by the Peace Corps –
in 2008 to advance the cause of global citizen diplomacy. As we celebrate the CSC’s 5th Anniversary this year, we pause briefly to reflect on the expertise that more than 2,400 IBMers and employees from our clients and partners have contributed to addressing some of the world’s greatest societal challenges. By deploying our top talent to collaborate with governments, NGOs and communities in emerging markets, we not only have helped bring about meaningful and sustainable changes, but also have developed the capabilities of our emerging leaders and built lasting relationships with our clients around the world.
Our work would not be possible without the strong partners who help us to implement our programs. Trusted organizations such as PYXERA Global and Global Ties U.S. understand our strengths, strategic priorities and how and where we can make the most impact. That trust and understanding help us plan and execute engagements that will deliver the greatest benefits. In addition, CSC has been strengthened by the inclusion of employees from some of IBM’s clients such as John Deere, FedEx and JPMorgan Chase. Uniting with our clients in service allows our respective employees to learn from each other while allowing us to build an even richer portfolio of innovation and expertise for the communities we serve.
I spoke at the recent Global Ties U.S. annual meeting, which included ambassadors, public and private sector leaders, and CSC alumni. Our subsequent discussions centered on the importance of civic engagement by the business community – a community that can provide badly needed innovation and expertise to help make the world a better place. When working together, true innovation can be applied to the world’s greatest problems while still serving the strategic needs of our respective organizations. Ultimately, global skills-based corporate community service programs such as the CSC are about people and establishing trust within the project teams, amongst our partners and with the communities we all serve.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Gina Tesla is Director of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program.