By Karol Lbik, London, UK
Last fall, I visited South America, traveling to Argentina and Brazil. Besides experiencing the local culture, tasting traditional cuisine and admiring landmarks and sights such as the Iguazu Falls, I also had the opportunity to network with fellow Consulting by Degrees participants from Buenos Aires.
This all began back in May when I heard about the Global Peer Program and expressed my desire to participate in it. This seemed like a great opportunity to expand my global network and learn more about other parts of the world. A month later, Maria Constanza Mascort from Buenos Aires, Argentina and I were connected through the Global Peer Network program, where program participants can get matched up with an international buddy. We communicated regularly, exchanging information about work such as our current roles, personal interests and cultures. I’ve always wanted to visit South America and talking with Maria gave me the opportunity to find out a little bit more about Argentina before I went. Maria provided me with a lot of useful information and tips. She told me about where to go and what to see including some tourist sites as well as local hidden places worth visiting. Learning about how and where to exchange money probably saved me a fair amount while I was in Argentina. There are two different exchange rates – the official bank and government rate (1 GBP = 6 Pesos) and the black-market rate (1 GBP = 10 Pesos). I most definitely obtained more useful information compared to an online travel guide.
Maria and I established a good relationship throughout the months and in the spirit of IBM’s values, we organized a brief networking session at the IBM office in Buenos Aires during my stay there. The aim was to share experiences and compare what it is like to be a Consulting by Degrees participant in the respective countries. While in Buenos Aires, Maria has given up her personal time to show me a particular neighborhood called La Boca and the famous Caminito. The following day I visited the IBM office and with a rather chewy and sweet round of introductions – Maynard Wine Gums was my selected British gift – I got to know the existing team and 6 new Consulting by Degrees participants that started that same week.
I gave a short presentation about my role on my project, my day-to-day activities and Smarter Commerce in the UK. As they were new hires, we briefly discussed the processes and our experiences regarding recruitment and came to the conclusion that IBM delivers a unified and well-defined experience across its many countries. Further, I got a chance to practice my Spanish listening skills while one of the Consulting by Degrees members talked about her role on a SAP project and about finding a new role.
Finally during lunch, we finished off the networking session with conversations about living in London versus Buenos Aires, and sharing traveling experiences.
One positive outcome was the discussion about Consulting by Degrees participants from around the world being able to join communities such as the Foundation Technical Community (FTC) where they can benefit from events such as Lunch & Learns.
I am glad I had the opportunity to make friends and expand my global network. It is considerably different to be one of 500 Consulting by Degrees participants in the UK compared to one of 12 in Buenos Aires, which feels more intimate and like a small circle of friends. However, with programs like the Global Peer Network, we were able to tap into the pool of knowledge and experience of about 5000 professionals. I would strongly encourage other Consulting by Degrees participants to reach out and make the most of such opportunities provided by IBM.