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IBM - Corporate Service Corps

Added on 22-03-2013





Business challenge

IBM was challenged with developing leadership skills for high potential employees (IBMers) within the company.  The company identified that this can be achieved through employee volunteering initiatives in strategic emerging markets of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, at the same time raising their cultural awareness and understanding about what it means to be a global citizen.


The company responded to this through selecting several hundred employees from different countries and business units were chosen to participate in the Corporate Service Corps program. The goal of the program initiated in 2008 was to create leadership development for participants and exceptional service for the communities and local organizations being served.

The Corporate Service Corps initiative teams employee groups with small and medium enterprises, non-governmen­tal organizations, universities and governmental agencies. They work in selected developing and emerging mar­kets for one month working on the world's toughest problems such as global economic opportunities, environmental challenges and access to educational resources.

The assignment focuses on the inter­section of business, technology and society. Projects may range from assisting networks of entrepreneurs and small businesses trying to grow and reach export markets, to the utili­zation of information technology by communities left behind through the "digital divide."

IBMers gain valuable global team experiences, accomplished through skill-sharing to assist with project assignments, unearthing new ideas and experiences that enrich one's understanding. Each team is comprised of 8-10 IBMers from different countries and business units that span the globe.


These are mainly adjustments to the existing design:

  • Enhance teaming aspect of assignment.
  • Prepare project information more in advance before departure.
  • Create a more standard experience in-country.

Challenges/Lessons learned:

  • IBM has created leaders with a broader range of skills that can function in a global context creating employee retention and commitment to the company.
  • Individual participants gets a set of leadership opportunities and development experiences such as Global leadership skills, Cultural intelligence and global awareness and Intrapersonal growth.
  • Participants felt that they had changed as a person as a result of being exposed to the culture of their assignment, as well as from living in close quarters with a diverse group of other IBMers.
  • Communities have the opportunity to improve their internal business processes, impacting local organisational staff and also enhancing internal and external network relationships.

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