By Pamela Colucci
One of the key things we hear about in IBM is that new IBMers love the global nature of our company and want to be given the opportunity to learn about other cultures. Paul Yonamine, General Manager of IBM Japan had the idea of pairing up a group of IBM millennials from Japan with their counterparts in the US so they could learn from one another , and so the IBM Global Millennial Exchange Program was born.
Acting as Career Matchmakers, we paired 15 millennials in IBM Japan with 15 of their millennial peers from the U.S. Each individual was initially asked for the top 3 things they are interested in learning more about or understanding better, and we used this information to play matchmaker – pairing up the individuals who could learn the most from one another based on their personal and professional interests. Pairs are suggested to meet via video chat every few weeks to discuss topics that they are most interested in and all participants attend a call together every three months to share their experiences and learnings with the entire group.
This is currently running as a pilot between IBM Japan and IBM US, but we are now looking to expand into more countries throughout 2016. We purposely started small and will use the feedback we receive from this pilot to improve the program as we continue to roll it out.
We’ve asked some of the participants about their experience with the IBM Global Millennial Exchange Program, and here’s what they have to say:
“By engaging in informal conversations with a colleague in Japan, who also happens to be in a different business unit, I feel more connected to the power of our company to think boldly and work towards our common purpose – to be essential, despite our locations and roles. It’s a great program I am honored to be part of.”– IBM US Employee
“From our experience working at IBM and from our millennial discussions, my exchange partner and myself have learned that a successful approach to engaging and selling to clients in the US is much different than in Japan. While there is so much emphasis on digital selling in the US, Japan values face-to-face interaction and events are still leveraged as a highly successful selling tactic in Japan.” – IBM Japan Employee
“Our conversations have run the gamut about life at IBM from our travel experiences to differences in labor laws between Japan and the US. It has been fascinating to discuss our company in each country with respect to collaboration between business units and even cultural differences in how we dress for work and interact with executives. I have had a great experience thus far and am excited to continue conversations and exchange ideas about how to make a better and more global IBM!” – US Employee
From our discussions with the participants, we can see that the goals of this program are being achieved — to see the world from another IBMer’s perspective, and to learn about a different part of the world and the culture that comes with it.
The Global Millennial Exchange Program is a demonstration of how we don’t just talk about being ‘global’ but that we are actively promoting and supporting our teams to connect with and learn from one another regardless of where they are in the world.
Pamela Colucci is a next generation Intrapreneur at IBM.
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