I’d heard the term “giving back” many times over the course of my career, but never really understood what it meant until after I joined IBM as part of the Cognos acquisition. After learning of IBM’s legendary culture of service and the extent to which IBMers contribute to their communities, I had the opportunity to take part in an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge engagement in August 2012. This was an eye-opening experience for me, both as an IBMer and as a human being.
I spent one month in Houston, USA working with city administrators to help identify ways to more effectively deliver services to residents. It was astounding to me that IBM would donate the time and talent of six experts for a month – effectively removing us from our “day jobs” to focus on this philanthropic activity. While in Houston, I got to see the impact an IBM team could have when we joined together and put our minds to a problem. But that was only the beginning.
I also got to know a member of our Corporate Citizenship team who really opened my eyes to the variety of IBM’s philanthropic activities and the many ways in which IBMers could get involved. During our time in Houston, the Smarter Cities team was able to participate in a volunteer activity with Collaborative for Children, a nonprofit that partners with families, teachers, care providers and community-based groups to help build strong educational foundations for young children. Working with Collaborative for Children, our team assembled and installed Young Explorer computer learning centers for a day care center in one of the poorest neighborhoods I had ever visited. I have to say that I will never forget this experience. Seeing the reaction of the children, the nonprofit’s program director and the day care center’s owner was truly heart-warming and priceless.
Helping one of the largest cities in the U.S. and seeing the impact that three hours of my time could have on a group of young children impacted me profoundly. I knew that my community could benefit from my volunteerism as well, and quickly found out that IBM would support my efforts to give back. IBM has many programs that are available to encourage employees to serve their local communities through skills-based volunteering, mentoring and other types of involvement. The IBM On Demand Community makes it easy for current and retired IBMers to participate in our culture of service.
Since returning to my day job from the Smarter Cities Challenge engagement in Houston, I’ve been able to utilize IBM’s On Demand Community offerings to donate my time and expertise to my community. By continuing the legacy of IBM’s culture of service, I’ve enjoyed many fulfilling experiences of giving back – just 10 short minutes from my house.
This film commemorates the spirit of service that has always been a part of IBM’s culture and always will be. To learn more, visit http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/us/en/service/.
This post originally appeared on the Citizen IBM blog and was republished for IBM Jobs Blog.