Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 4/5: There is a first time for everything I guess...

So, I have never started a blog before.

I guess I never thought about it, sought it out nor considered it.  But I also never had been able to join what I will presuppose to be the "Experience of  A Lifetime."  So, last year I was fortunate to be selected to participate in IBM's Corporate Service Corps.  You can envision this to be a Corporate version of the Peace Corps that you likely know of already.   IBM Corporate Service Corps

IBM's Corporate Service Corps started 8 years ago with a pretty simple mission which was to take the talents and capabilities of Global IBM and apply these broad and diverse skillsets to do good work in the communities we serve and live in.  8 years later, 2500+ "graduates" and 40+ countries later, here I am sitting in a cafe in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our project started 4 days ago and it won't surprise many of you that I am JUST NOW posting on Day 4 or 5.   :)

What I can share about the first few days I hope are some insightful comments and experiences.  I am here with 13 other IBM'ers from Costa Rica, India, UK, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada and the United States.  We are all here on a 30day assignment and as you can expect, we come from all walks of life and its certainly one of the highlights of the trip to be engaged with such talented peers. Yes, I would be one of them as well!!

The team at IBM South Africa Lobby
Our Team engaging with IBM SA Leadership

We have had a whirlwind of a couple of days.  Aside from the 18+hours of flying and settling in, we did a bit of work and site seeing this past weekend.  On Saturday, we visited the IBM Johannesburg site and met with the General Manager of  IBM South Africa and also received a briefing on security.  It was quite interesting to learn how our company does business in the country and to review some of the post apartheid laws that were drafted to and meant to encourage fair consideration but also bring new challenges.  See link for more info http://www.southafrica.info/business/trends/empowerment/bee.htm#.U56QeBAkTJc

Two of the major touristy highlights for me this past weekend were the Apartheid museum and visiting the first home of Nelson Mandela, which is now converted into a museum.  Both were pretty rich and intense in terms of experience.  Seeing bullet holes in the brick wall of the small Mandela home is pretty moving.
A good number of the team with Muriuki, our Leader
You will notice that no "blacks" became "white". 

Our IBM Team is working with iNesi in support of South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP), which is charged to ensure SA becomes an e-literate (or e-astuteness) socity by 2030.  My subteam is focused on education delivery, citizen engagement and big data analytics.  So, we have taken a broad mission and are serving our Client within four subteams.  We just met the Client 2 days ago and have a ton of research, evaluation and review to do in a short period of time before we leave!!

OK, this entry is too long so I will end here and provide updates in the near future.