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IBM Launches Corporate 'Peace Corps' Program For Employees

IBM has selected the first 100 employees that will work in 12 teams being sent this year to countries such as Ghana, the Philippines, and Romania.

IBM has launched a new program called Corporate Service Corps in which IBM employees volunteer to bring their technology and business skills to emerging countries to help spark socio-economic growth there.

IBM says it's received 5,000 applications from employees in a three-week period since the program was announced to staff. From that pool, IBM has selected the first 100 employees that will work in 12 teams being sent this year to countries including Ghana, the Philippines, and Romania.

Another 100 IBM employees will be chosen for the program by the end of the year, and IBM expects about 600 employees to participate over the next three years.

Among the projects these teams will work on is helping a group of small enterprises in Ghana improve their business processes and training in hopes of scaling up their businesses.

IBM officials say the new program is modeled after the U.S. Peace Corps, and is part of a larger Global Citizen's Portfolio initiative IBM launched last year to develop the company's leadership skills while helping address the world's socio-economic issues.

"Having 600 emerging leaders in the company engaging in team projects in geographies like Ghana, Romania, the Philippines, Tanzania, Turkey, and Viet Nam will expand their views about these places and offer them an on-the-ground opportunity to learn, grow and contribute," said Stanley Litow, VP of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, in an e-mail interview with InformationWeek.

The program will also help IBM employees "refine their skills by allowing them to work on complex projects where there is a triple benefit: a benefit to these communities by solving problems on the ground that benefit the community, a benefit to the individual by providing them with an exemplary form of leadership training and development, and a benefit to the company by developing a new generation of global leaders," said Litow.

The applicants who were selected to participate in the program are "the best of the best," coming from 33 countries and averaging 10 years of experience at IBM, said Litow.

"We have people with strong technology skills -- both in hardware and software -- research experts, consultants, as well as marketing and communications professionals," says Litow. "Teams of them are being sent to deliver real value in the emerging geographies by lending their expertise to efforts that support economic growth."

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