Small Change Leads to BIG CHANGE – IBM Corporate Service Corps in Emerging Markets

IBMGhanaSlideshowAfter another disappointing week of streaming news about bailouts and leadership decisions flashed in front of us that are painful symptoms of so much that MUST change, I was moved by the corresponding good news headline:

IBM Selects 200 New Global Leaders for the Corporate Service Corps to Tackle Socioeconomic Problems in Key Emerging Markets

The story reads: “Two hundred of IBM’s future leaders from nearly 40 countries will participate for international assignments to emerging markets in 2009 as part of the company’s Corporate Service Corps program, part of the Global Citizen’s Portfolio initiative announced by CEO Sam Palmisano.”

What made this good news so meaningful was the slideshow story told by Charlie Ung, 8-year IBMer from Canada about his four week experience traveling to Accra in Ghana, West Africa. It says more than any words I could write:

What I’ve always loved about IBM remains the same.
They do stuff. They inspire us to do it too. They are on it. Not perfect perhaps, but like everything else, in its cracks, new LIGHT emerges always moving to something higher. Sam Palmisano made sure of it when he put his fingerprint on the future with IBM’s commitment November 6, 2008 in a speech describing THE SMARTER PLANET.

The Greater IBM Connection?…
It felt good today to be reminded by the GOOD NEWS above. Another plus was finding out about it on Twitter from GIBMer Jasmin Tragas, IBM Australia (Wonderwebby) It is still another example of the goodness that comes from our Greater IBM Connections across the world. Jasmin reminded us all today in one of her tweets, “Give, give, give. Without take. Learn how Jasmin is setting the example in her own words and in a creative visual exhibitat the Women’s Gallery at the Global Dialogue Center — changing lives for women in the Philippines. Then you are invited to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE. Like Charlie Ung told us in his story from Ghana…

…Maybe that’s the key:
small change that leads to big change.”

Tell us what small changes you are leading. Spread the good news!


Dk010109-recollectionDebbe Kennedy
Contributing Author
Greater IBM Connection Blog
Founder, President & CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Cos.
author, Putting Our Differences to Work
Video Book Review by futurist Joel A. Barker
IBMer 1970 – 1991 L.A.; Anchorage; Seattle; San Francisco

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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