By Sampoorna Hedge.
“Dare to dream high, dream will come true” has come true for me…I was 12 years old, when I had a dream to play for India. While I pursued my core passion of being a Software Engineer, my longing for playing sports was at the back of my mind.
For 14 years I worked in the Software industry without involving myself in any active sports. I re-started sports in 2007. Post joining IBM in 2010, one day I received a mail from IBM Club regarding an inter-corporate throwball tournament. IBM Club is an internal forum that gives IBMers a gamut of activities to participate and take initiative – sports, cultural activities, photography etc. A voice inside me rekindled my longing to get back to sports. I used my networking skills and formed an IBM Throwball team. I can never forget our first tournament. Our efforts did not help us score any points but we gathered points because of our opponent’s mistakes. Despite this, we never lost hope as this was our new beginning. Our zeal for the game and team bonding continued and we never missed an opportunity to hone our skills with regular weekend practices.
The purpose of forming the team was not just to play, but to provide a forum for women to enhance the networking skills, leadership skills and keep ourselves healthy. We encouraged everyone to join the team, irrespective of whether they had played the game earlier or not. Our team has employees across Business Units (BUs). This helped us understand IBM better, effectively network with each other and help members find the right jobs if required while also stepping up their career roadmap. Employees could take support from each other to grow. We also could attract talent from outside IBM. The fact that we were able to find an opportunity for a differently-abled yet talented employee, Jaya, who stays near the practice ground, is testimony to the power of this joint collaboration and teaming culture that we have been able to build.
I was invited to lead the Sports Club in Bangalore and re-launch IBM Club in 2012. Our networking enhanced from one game to 11 different game streams engaging 250+ volunteers and 5000+ employees. We conducted internal tournaments and encouraged teams to participate in Inter-corporate events. This helped us multiply the employee engagement, develop leadership skills and connect the employees across BUs.
In parallel, our efforts in Throwball were noticed by the Throwball Federation of India. I along with some of my team members got selected for sports at an international level. I had the privilege to represent India in 6 International tournaments so far. Among them, Asian Championship 2014 was the most memorable moment for me. Being the captain of the team I had to steer my India team to victory. In this tour, we had the opportunity to interact with people from 4 different countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia; we created a special bond with the Pakistan team.
I am a proud IBMer as IBM has encouraged me to pursue my dream along with my career, passionately. I am “Made with IBM”.