I’m heading to Africa for 37 days this summer for a unique work opportunity, plus a little bit of play at the end! This is something I’ve been actively chasing for a few years and was notified 2 months ago of my trip. With one month left to go before leaving, here’s what I know so far:
The opportunity that is bringing me half-way around the world is IBM Corporate Service Corp (CSC)
According to the official IBM CSC site…
“The IBM Corporate Service Corps was launched in 2008 to help provide IBMers with high quality leadership development while delivering high quality problem solving for communities and organizations in emerging markets. The program empowers IBM employees as global citizens by sending groups of 10 – 15 individuals from different countries with a range of skills to an emerging market for four week community-based assignments. During the assignment, participants perform community-driven economic development projects working at the intersection of business, technology, and society.”
Or to put it more succinctly… it’s a triple benefit:
1. Communities have their problems solved.
2. IBMers receive leadership training and development.
3. IBM develops new markets and global leaders.
Since its launch in 2008, the Corporate Service Corps has had a positive impact of the lives of more the 140,000 people through skills transfer and capacity building. The Corporate Service Corps program has sent over 2,400 participants on over 200 teams to more than 30 countries around the world.
I’ve been staffed to CSC South Africa 12 … yes, that means 11 prior teams have been deployed to South Africa over the last 6 years. However, none have been to the same city or region. My home for 4 weeks will be Mafeking (also known as Mahikeng) in the North-West Province of South Africa, 160 miles west of Johannesburg, near the Botswana border. Mafeking has a population of around 250,000. For those in my homestate that’s bigger than Akron, smaller than Cleveland, and more along the lines of Toledo. It sits at nearly a mile elevation – which was very surprising to me – and its predominant language is Setswana (Thanks Wikipedia)
I’ll be joined by 14 other IBMers from the US (Austin, Minneapolis, Raleigh, and Westchester County NY), Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, India and Australia. We met via phone for the first time on March 18th to begin preparing for our adventure. Through weekly 7 am Tuesday telecons, we are led and mentored by past CSC South Africa participants. I will depart the US on June 12th and finally meet everyone face to face in Johannesburg on June 13th before we travel as a group to Mafeking to live and work for 4 weeks with our designated client.
The Client – Ikamva National e-Skills Institute (iNeSI). We will be divided into sub-teams of 5 to tackle 3 different projects, all tied to training and skills development for the North West Province.
There is so much more to share, but I’ll save that for another post –
tlhôla sentle (Have a good day in Setswana)