By Mariano Aragunde
IBM’s Corporate Services Corps program gives IBM’ers the unique opportunity to develop their leadership skills, by going on a community-based assignment in an emerging market to help communities around the world solve critical problems. Over the next few weeks we’ll be following Mariano Aragunde, IBM HR in Latin America as he goes on assignment in India.
My IBM Corporate Service Corps journey. Week 1 – Finding our Feet
My first week in India just flew: it seems like only yesterday when we had our kickoff meeting with our clients and realized the significance of the work we were going to be doing for them.. So, last week 12 IBMers arrived in Raipur – in the state of Chhattisgarh, known as ‘the bowl of rice of India’ – representing all parts of the world including Sweden, Australia, Japan, Brazil, USA, UK, France, and Argentina on my side. All excited about our new adventure on the greatest Enterprise Social Responsibility program of all: IBM’s Corporate Service Corps.
As we learned about the projects we were going to work on, we realized that we need to immerse ourselves n the ‘real’ India, get to know the people, the city, the state and the country. Since I’m a journalist, I read the Times of India everyday to get a glimpse on how things are here. So let me tell you about what we’ve been doing:
Corporate Service Corps project
I’m in a small team with Rob (Australia) and Tomoo (Japan) to help the state government of Chhattisgarh in a program called State Rural Livelihood Mission, which is aimed to help the poorest of the poor by empowering women. How? They organize women’s Self Help Groups where the families involved help each other on managing resources, money loans, community activities, farming and produce, health, etc.
Our first week has been dedicated to observe experiences, collect information, and talk with people. Every time we visit a village to know what they were doing, the women received us with flowers, gifts, food, incense, and marking our forehead. I have never seen this kind of humility and happiness in my life. I was truly moved…it made me feel so small and humbled. This sense of responsibility opened my eyes and my heart: they expect so much from us, from our help, from our expertise as IBMers. Everyone had the same feeling in the big team: we’re truly committed to this work.
Making new friends
Besides our work time in India we all had the opportunity to meet each other by spending time together every day. We’re slowly making friends, and realizing that even though we come from different countries, cultures, and languages…we’re all people, we’re all IBMers that are here for a reason: we want to help others.
We come from different backgrounds and experience: Finance, IT, Human Resources, Sales, Consulting. We’re very different, indeed. But by the end of this week, we were all laughing, making jokes, and sharing things like we had known each other for years.
Every day we have dinner, we talk about our projects and how we can share our expertise to get the work done in the time we will be here. We even planned a trip for the weekend to visit the Kanha Natural Reserve, where we got into a 100% wild safari and even got the opportunity to see a wild bengala tiger!
Next steps: stay tuned
Over the next few weeks, I will continue to share my experience and progress here on the CSC Program. The fact that IBM helps by sharing their expertise and time is SO much more important than money: and you realize that once you land here and see what they need. They need knowledge, time, different perspectives, and insights. If every company does what IBM is doing, the world would be a much better place. No doubt about it.
If you understand Spanish, I’ll be blogging more regularly in my personal blog and tweeting as well. I’ll be sharing my experience about this fascinating country: the beauty of the landscape, the people…everything will impact your senses.
Mariano Aragunde is Latin America Candidate Attraction and Social Media Leader for IBM.
To find out more about IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, visit IBM CSC website
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