Venkatraman Umakanth recently completed his IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) assignment in Morocco where he worked with other IBMers coming from nine different countries across the globe. In this blog, he shares his experience in Morocco with us and how he was able to do meaningful work with passion.
By Venkatraman Umakanth
The four weeks in Morocco were the most intense weeks of my life. The only way I can describe it is that I took a break from my regular life and transported myself into a whole new life. I had a home, a new “family” and great friends, I had a routine, I had a meaningful job with a noble purpose.
While I have performed global leadership roles and have worked across various Business Units within IBM, spending a month with a ‘truly’ global and diverse team altered my perspective and made me appreciate their strengths, and most importantly, the differences. Our team comprised of 15 IBMers from nine countries (USA, Canada, Brazil, Italy, Slovakia, China, Korea, Japan, India) and was the 9th CSC team traveling to Morocco.
Our Goal: Analyzing Trends in Cognitive Agricultural Solutions in Sub-Sahara to Fight the Impending Food Crisis
I was part of a sub-team with four participants from different areas of IBM: Larry (USA), Jessica (Canada), Kazutaka (Japan), and myself (India). We worked with the Moroccan Foundation for Advanced Science, Innovation & Research (MASciR) to analyze trends in cognitive agriculture solutions as they pertained to Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, we conducted an analysis of the fertilizer market, both in terms of product development and market adoption, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Based on our analysis and collaboration with our smarter agriculture colleagues, we were able to make recommendations for MASciR for both fertilizer development as well as areas to focus on for the implementation of a cognitive agriculture solution. We also provided a reference business model.
If our recommendations are implemented, MASciR will have the opportunity to be on the leading edge of cognitive agriculture implementation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The successful implementation of a cognitive agriculture has the potential to make a large contribution to fighting the impending food crisis expected for 2050, which could lead to a more efficient supply chain, greater stability for fertilizer suppliers, income predictability for farmers, and sufficient food to not only to feed people within the country, but also to increase exports.
The best part of the engagement was the day spent at AMSAT – an institute for special children in Rabat. One of the young lads had won the ‘Best Chef’ title in France. I salute the team behind the mission as those children are being trained so well and the infrastructure is amazing too. I was personally amazed with the young girl in the photograph below. She was filled with positive energy and I personally learnt a lot from the few minutes spent with her and I thank the almighty for connecting me with them. They were indeed ‘special’ kids.
Learning from Every Part of the Experience
Apart from the enriching experience of working on a pro-bono consulting engagement to address a larger social problem, the experience has taught me to appreciate the differences in culture and way of being of people from across the globe. In this assignment, I worked with IBMers with different specializations (legal, consultant, sales, marketing, HR, strategy, etc.) from different parts of the world – and one will be amazed at how much you can learn from such a diverse group with diverse experiences!
Working on the project itself, I realized the magnitude of the crop deficiency that is foreseen, and now I’ve started looking for means to ensure people do not waste food & other natural resources. During the social activity day @ Amsat (Institute for autistic children), I realised the extent to which I’m blessed and learnt to live life fully
We met as a team, we worked as friends and we parted as family – it was truly a lifetime experience.
I have been back home for over two months, and a day has not passed without me thinking about the wonderful experiences and people I met during my 4 weeks assignment in Rabat. I’m extremely grateful to IBM for providing such an opportunity and my management & family for their encouragement and support.
The IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) is a highly competitive leadership development program that sends IBM employees to countries in emerging markets to address high-priority issues such as education, health, and economic development. This philanthropic initiative enables them to share their business expertise with not-for-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, small business owners and governmental agencies in markets globally.
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