Greater IBMers on a new kind of frontier in Emerging Markets

Thanks to The Greater IBM Connection, I’ve had the opportunity to "meet" some pretty terrific people in the past several months. Two Greater IBMers that will stand out are Barbara and Oma Sewhdat. You can find their story at . They came out of retirement to spend a year in rural China, teaching mainframe skills to a new generation of young Chinese.

To do that, they left the comfort of home, friends and family. They arrived in Shanghai, knowing only a handful tourist-book level Chinese words – and compensated by using gestures to communicate. They are the pioneers for Reach Out!, an IBM program to enlist retired IBMers for fixed-term jobs in emerging markets. You can learn more about this exciting new program at

Barbara and Oma now live in a village with few amenities and their life is largely circumscribed by the campus where they live and teach.  There have been adventures with phones, hot water and basic transportation. It’s not always been easy.

So why do they love it? They are making a difference in the lives of young people. Barbara and Oma know they are being changed, too. They like the change – and the memories that will last a lifetime.

I asked Oma whether he would recommend the program to others. His response was immediate: "Anyone who has the opportunity to do this, should seize it."

One of the exciting things, for me, in what Barbara and Oma are doing is that they are like a lot of other IBMers I’ve known through the years. People willing to put themselves on the line for something meaningful, something they believe in.

Who are some of those others? Do you have an experience to share? Please tell us.

Use the comment tool to tell us about Greater IBMers you know, or have known, who are putting their skills and knowledge to work making things better for others.

Comment now, before other demands distract you.

The story you share just may inspire someone who’s looking for ideas in their own lifeLarry_solo_mar08.

I’m Larry Phipps, a Greater IBMer and editor, The Greater IBM Connection

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