By Katy Brownley
IBM Corporate Services Corps (CSC) 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. In this edition, we will be sharing the experiences of Katy Brownley, Emptoris Client Success Manager at IBM during her CSC assignment to South Africa.
I had the amazing fortune to participate in IBM’s Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program in the summer of 2014. IBM’s CSC program is unparalleled and a huge reason that I remain a True Blue employee.
What’s the CSC? In a nutshell — it’s a digital Peace Corp-type program where teams of 10-15 high-performing IBMers from all around the globe are deployed to an emerging market to tackle societal and economic issues through the use of technology.
My team was deployed to Mafeking, South Africa, a rural town near a few hours northwest of Johannesburg on the Botswana border. Our team supported the Ikamva National eSkills Institute or iNeSI. They are a national catalyst in the development of e-skills for South Africa and we helped them with a myriad of opportunities, all with the ultimate goal of enhancing the technical skills and e-Literacy of the South African workforce.
Our work with iNeSI, the North West University, and the South African government made a lasting impact on both the community and ourselves. Our research and project plans created a new skills Collaborative Laboratory at the North West University that brought training to students and lifted up a region economically. We provided insights, collated and measured the great work already being done by South Africa to make their citizens e-Literate. The lives of South Africans greatly improved because our project equipped them with skills relevant to compete in the global knowledge economy marketplace and better access to services from government, business, and the educated.
And what did I get out of this experience? More than I could have ever imagined. Professionally, I returned a better-rounded leader who actively worked through cultural awareness on a daily basis versus experiencing it via conference calls and emails. I was exposed to not only a solid month of daily interactions with South African clients, but daily work with my IBM colleagues from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, India, the UK and USA.
I honed my skills in persuasive negotiation, influencing without authority, and mentoring. I understood “Listen to Client” on a completely different level. I became more aware of all IBM had to offer, what business units were out there, and what job roles were available. Eighteen months after my CSC assignment, I was promoted to management, in a new business unit, and in a client-facing role. My experience with the CSC directly affected my personal and professional growth that allowed me to make my next career step.
In short, I became even more proud to call IBM my employer while I developed deep life-long friendships with my colleagues. I don’t know of any program at any company that puts such emphasis on cultivating its employees.
Katy Brownley is Emptoris Client Success Manager for North America. You can follow her on Twitter.
To find out more about IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, visit IBM CSC website
What will you make with IBM?