Leaders to go abroad for corporate peace of mindApril 2009
Two hundred of IBM’s ‘future leaders’ from nearly 40 countries will participate in projects in emerging markets this year as part of the company’s Corporate Service Corps programme – run by what is being known as the ‘corporate peace corps’.
Teams of eight to ten will work on tasks involving economic development and information technology. Four teams will represent IBM for the first time in Brazil, China, Malaysia and South Africa, and five teams will return to Ghana, the Philippines, Romania, Tanzania and Vietnam, where projects were conducted last year.
The assignments have been chosen to enable IBM employees to use their skills in areas such as information technology, business consulting, marketing, finance and supply chain management.
Before departure, team members will prepare themselves by learning about teamwork, cultural adaptability, corporate social responsibility, language, project goals and the socio-economic and political aspects of their destination countries. Afterwards they will share their experiences in their home communities and with the company.
Last year the corps worked on 36 projects that helped local businesses, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions to improve their use of new technologies and expanding their global reach. This year the projects will include work with businesses on the economic revitalization of earthquake-hit areas of Sichuan, China, and programmes to improve business and supply chain processes for small and medium-sized businesses in Ghana’s growing oil and gas industry.
Stanley Litow, IBM’s vice-president for corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, said: ‘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.’
Harvard Business School concluded in a recent study that the IBM participants significantly increased their cultural intelligence and resilience as leaders through the projects. Assistant professor Christopher Marquis said: ‘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 found most of the project hosts reported improvements in their internal business processes and their ability to forge new and stronger partnerships with other private-sector enterprises, non-governmental organizations and governmental agencies.
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