IBM is known for innovation when it comes to technology. This reputation translates to everything the company does, including their humanitarian work. IBM has a long history of Corporate Social Responsibility, but has taken this a step further with its Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program. Since 2008, this program has sent 500 high performing / high potential employees each year to a total of over 44 countries to lend a hand and make life better for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The application process is highly competitive — only 10% of applicants are selected! To learn more about this experience, we interviewed two outstanding IBM employees who were chosen to participate this past year. Keep reading to learn all about their journeys and the difference they made in the world.
Bridget King’s path at IBM started when she interned as a student at the University of Waterloo. It was during this internship when she first heard about the CSC program. Bridget was fortunate to be hired as a Campus Recruiter at IBM after graduation in 2015. Now her role has evolved to leading strategy and execution for early professional hiring in North America. Bridget’s other accomplishments include holding the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation and being named 2017 Campus Recruiter of the Year from TalentEgg.
So Bridget put aside her fears and applied. “The program is quite competitive: you have to have worked at IBM for a minimum of 2 years, have the highest performance ranking and be nominated by your manager,” she comments. She was ecstatic to learn that she was one of the lucky few who were selected this year. At the same time, preparing for this trip was fairly stressful – not only did Bridget have to delegate all her work to someone for her 4-week trip, but she also only discovered where her destination was three months before her trip! “That’s part of the process – uncertainty and being pushed outside your comfort zone,” she says.
What Happens on the Trip?
What makes IBM’s CSC program unique is the pro-bono skills-based services. By donating employees’ time and their expertise to organizations in need, IBM’s humanitarian outreach ensures the future growth of its employees, as well as the causes they serve. This mission came to life through Bridget’s work – her team’s recommendations are currently being implemented at the organization she volunteered with, making the project a living legacy.
Bridget is ready to take on new challenges and change the world through her work with IBM. This transformative experience has reconfirmed her commitment to the company, helped her develop analytical skills and cross-cultural communication, as well as taught her how to deal with difficult situations and uncertainty. But perhaps most importantly, Bridget knows, first hand, that IBM cares for more than just the bottom line.
Troy Pariag is a living example of IBM’s brand ambassador. He’s worked for IBM for 23 years in 14 different roles and was waiting for the right moment to get involved with CSC. Over the years, he’s helped many employees who were applying for this program. Troy finally applied in 2017 but did not get selected. Luckily, he didn’t let that discourage him! Instead, it pushed him to dive deeper into his inner purpose and reapplied the following year. When he got accepted for the 2019 trip, he knew instinctively that this was indeed the right time for CSC.
What Does The Trip Entail?
Troy and Bridget were part of CSC India42 team deployed to Chandigarh, India. CSC India42 consisted of 18 IBM employees from 9 different countries who spoke 8 different languages. Troy was assigned to SubTeam #1 with 2 other colleagues from IBM Brazil and IBM US. SubTeam #1 worked with the Society for Services to Voluntary Agencies (SOSVA) to implement a management information system to monitor the progress and success of over 125 NGOs. Working with such a diverse team is bound to elevate your cross-cultural communication skills very quickly!
The organizations that Troy’s team supported all have fundamental life-saving objectives, implementing projects in the slums and remote villages of Chandigarh “These NGOs focused on projects dealing with reproductive and child health, the empowerment of women, drug de-addiction education, HIV/Aids awareness and remedial education for children under 12,” Troy comments.
Troy discovered that their clients used computers only as typewriters – every document on each computer was saved in an MS Word format, then printed and stored in folders in a filing cabinet. This clearly presented many security and safety issues in record keeping that Troy was determined to resolve with more up to date systems. The digital tools Troy’s team implemented will enable SOSVA to better serve their communities with more relevant training programs and improve the health and economic outcomes for their end users.
What Does it all Mean?
In addition to work, Troy found time to learn about the culture, people, economy, traditions, and history of India. He even participated in the festival of Holi that marks the start of spring.“As a result of the program, I have a much greater appreciation for language, culture and age. Nothing should ever be a barrier when working or communicating with others. We are all human, striving to achieve the same things in life regardless of where and who you are,” Troy shares.
It’s evident that Troy truly believes in giving back to the world and paying it forward. He took his time to find the right moment to be ready for this life-changing experience, and he got more out of it than he could have imagined. Troy understood that he needed to absorb himself entirely in his assignment, live in the moment and be 100% present to make the greatest impact for others, as well as himself.
CSC program left both Bridget and Troy inspired, to say the least. Troy leaves us with this uplifting thought: “Living without integrity and authenticity is simply not living at all. IBM allows me to work, achieve professional and personal satisfaction and take care of my family commitments with integrity and authenticity.” While this program might seem demanding, it’s clear that the learning experience and the impact you can make on the world is worth it. IBM’s CSC program allows top employees to fulfill their purpose while working and helping others around the globe.