Let me start by saying that I have a had a life-long fascination with China, its culture, art and history. I consider myself very fortunate to not only have been selected for this program but also sent to China. My assignment in China with IBM Corporate Service Corps was the single most valuable experience of my professional career. Today, I will share this experience with you and my hope is that you will become inspired to learn and act in ways that reinforce your OWN role as a global citizen.
Before I tell you my story, there are some things I would like for you to know about the program. Here, IBMers work with local organizations and businesses on projects that intersect business, technology and society. Employees --- benefit from this total immersion problem-solving exercise. Local communities -- in country -- gain by receiving extremely valuable and expert consulting services. And, IBM -- as a whole -- benefits by developing its next generation of leaders with the skills required to lead in a globally-integrated enterprise. So how does IBM do this? It sends transnational teams of 8-10 people ranging in expertise and experience to an emerging country. This past July marked the one year anniversary of CSC teams going abroad. To date, over 5500 applications have been submitted and 600 employees have been selected to participate. Since IBM deployed the first team to Romania last July, we have now placed over 400 employees from 47 countries on 48 teams in 13 countries. Those countries are: Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Tanzania, Turkey and Vietnam. In August of this year, IBM announced plans to expand the program to 1500 employees by 2010. Also, for the first time, CSC will include a small number of executives in a unique leadership development effort linked to advancing IBM's Smarter Cities agenda. The program has been a resounding success. CSC was IBM’s most “covered” media story in 2008. The Harvard Business School's evaluation found “the program is a success on all participant goals” which include increased cultural intelligence, increased global awareness, leadership skills and talent retention. Six months after program completion surveys show that “individuals experienced significant and enduring personal change in cultural intelligence, leadership and resilience.” Recently, IBM has had discussions with the State Department and Office of Social Innovation and US Agency for International Development (USAID) about a partnership that will scale the CSC concept more broadly to some of our clients such as Novartis and Deutsche Bank. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about this specific milestone. My grandfather who passed away a year ago this week, had a lifetime career as an agricultural economist for USAID. His job took him on multi-year assignments to countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Yemen and Syria. His job working with local governments could on some days be described as ‘keeping the sand dunes out of the crops’. Growing up as a kid and even as an adult, my grandfather had but one important question for me. And that question was, “Well … what did you do for the good of the world today.” I take that question very seriously.
This is the CSC China 3 team. Together, we represent 7 countries, 13 languages, a total of 64 years with IBM and a diverse range of expertise. Our opportunity was not only to learn about and work with China but also with one another – as representatives from our own countries. Top left to right: Etienne Leroy, a CRM Consultant from GBS in Paris Rajat Pal, WebSphere Application Developer for GBS in Kolkota Rajani Bangaloe, Senior Delivery Manager for GBS in Bangalore Yin Yoon Ng (YY), Technical Consultant for Tivoli Performance Management for Wireless in Software Sales in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia Alfred Schilder, IT Architect for STG from the village of Vollendam just outside of Amsterdam Bottom left to right: Bonnie Murphy, Education Conference Planning & Execution for the Information Management brand in SWG in Toronto. Layne Morrison, GBS Managing Consultant and Project Manager for Public Sector clients in Washington D.C. Rachel Couto Ferreira, Pricing Team Lead from IBM Global Financing for Latin America. She lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And, myself Tamara Gunter, Demand Program Manager and Team Lead for Lotus Marketing in SWG. I live and work in Austin Texas. On the far right is Jerry Hsu, Executive Project Manager for IBM Solutions & Services for GBS, in Chengdu. He was just one of the great people our team met from IBM China. This photo was taken at the IBM GBS office. Just two short weeks after our selection, we began our three months of pre-work leading up to the trip. During pre-work, the team bridged numerous time zones and used a few collaborative tools to help us work together. We met for an hour twice weekly by phone and e-meeting. We were preparing to be confronted with core societal, educational and environmental challenges in Sichuan. Prework consisted of learning curriculum and team development exercises covering: Roles and responsibilities Logistics (i.e. vaccines, visas, health and safety, emergency planning) Cultural adaptability The role of international development in emerging markets Corporate social responsibility Media – i.e. promoting the program and handling questions from the press IBM’s presence in China Training of consulting skills and special focus on issue-based consulting We spent about 10 hours per week on our pre-work. The most important time spent was on refining our Scope of Work. We knew to expect change. We deliberated over ways to meet the expectations of local clients we had never met before – and in businesses or industries much different from our own expertise. We had to determine, logistically, how would we handle the projects. We had the option to operate as a whole team, within subteams or independently. Our clients in collaboration with our NGO partner reviewed our CVs and made a request for specific subteam formations base upon their requirements. In the 11th hour our CSC team changed from 10 to 9 members. Responsibilities shifted to accommodate the full scope. Much negotiation occurred during our review of the scope. DOT acted as mediator for all. We could not have a direct teleconferences with clients given concern over the language barrier. Some of us had to determine if we were to work with all clients over the course of four weeks or one or more different clients per week. Project and task planning was sometimes scheduled a month in advance and down to the half day. We had to determine who would play what role on the team. Would we need a lead or expert for the team, subteams or each client? Would we need a spokesperson for certain situations?. Many of us were already stretched thin during our three months of pre-work to manage our full-time day jobs and the responsibilities of the program. But, we made it happen.
Corporate Service Corps started going to China just this year. The first two program locations are in Sichuan Province and Shen Yang Province. Our team was deployed to Sichuan from August 21 st to September 20 th of this year. In Sichuan, the local language is Sichuanese and most speak Mandarin as well. Sichuan is touristed for may reasons and most popular are the pandas in residence and spicy cuisine. The Himalayas and Tibet to the west. The Qinling mountain range is to the north. Yunnan is to the south and the Yangtze flows through Sichuan. The gross domestic product of Sichuan is 1.25 trillion Yuan. It’s civilization dates back to 15 th c. BC. Our team spent three weeks in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. Although I had never heard of Chengdu, I quickly learned that this city is massive with a population of 11 million. To give you some comparison, the population of New York city is 8.3 million. The area of Chengdu is also large at 4,784 square miles – or, 10 times the area of New York City. It’s gross domestic product is 390 billion Yuan (or $57 billion USD). Chengdu was established in 5 th c. BC. Our team also spent one week in Dujiangyan. Much smaller by comparison, it’s population is approximately 600,000. Dujiangyan is known for its Irrigation System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And, more recently Dujiangyan has become internationally known as one of the hardest hit cities of the May 12, 2008 earthquake.
Local community clients are the people whom CSC teams work with during the in-country portion of the program. The mission of the CSC program is one of social responsibility and our intent is to deliver benefit to those organizations and companies with the greatest need for IBM’s help and facing challenges whose solutions bear the greatest potential social and economic impact to the community. We worked closely with our NGO partner, Digital Opportunities Trust (DOT). Along with providing preparatory country information and in-country logistics support (i.e. transport, lodging, per diem, cell phones, airfare and interpreters), DOT (our NGO) also played the role of selecting projects and community clients. Our local community clients included small and medium enterprises, universities, and governmental agencies. These clients were nominated by the municipal and provincial-level Chinese government and ultimately selected by both the government and DOT based on guidelines put forth by IBM. During pre-work, our team decided to operate as a whole for some projects and in subteams for other projects. The ICT subteam (Alfred, YY and I) worked with the organizations and schools listed here to: Help plan the government subsidized development of a new digital city Evolve Chengdu’s eGovernment platform Improve upon the strategic objectives and program curriculum of colleges and universities The SME subteam (Rachel, Rajat and Etienne) worked with the government agencies and companies you see listed here to p rovide consultation on a number of topics including: Corporate governance, financial management and financing skills; Public relation strategy, CRM, corporate communications and marketing; HR capability improvement strategies; e-Business platform advantages in marketing and export businesses. The Public Services subteam (Bonnie, Layne and Rajani) Conducted surveys, studies, interviews and analysis to build comprehensive recommendations and report for i nternationalizing and promoting the city of Chengdu on the global stage The also delivered training for primary and high schools’ post-quake rebuilding by improving teachers’ teaching capabilities in English language, based on IBM China’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. The two primary focus areas of the PS subteam were also whole team assignments. With their leadership, the whole team contributed to these assignments. The remainder of this presentation focuses on my personal experience and in effect, the clients and challenges of the ICT subteam.
While we were in China, the team lived in hotels and on many days, this is where the whole team met for breakfast. Breakfast in China featured an array of spicy, Sichuan-style dishes of green beans, noodles, pork and more. After breakfast, we’d break up into our subteams and seek transportation. Some days, our clients or NGO arranged for a small bus and on many days, we chased taxis. Taxi fares are inexpensive and supply of taxis is far less than demand in Chengdu. Catching taxis is critical to city survival. One must compete with other individuals to run toward the taxi, grab the handle and hop in before anyone else can. This race can be ruthless. Once arriving at the client location, the routine was fairly consistent. First things first – trading business cards. In China, the business card is an extension of oneself and greatly respected. Always shake hands with a slight bow, smile, make eye contact and receive the card with both hands. Exchange with your card in the same manner. During introductions, there was usually presentation of the company philosophy or vision as it was displayed in Chinese characters or through a historical figure and statue situated at the entrance of the building. Photos. I can honestly say that I have never been photographed more times in the whole of my life than I had during this trip. With every meeting comes photos -- of the team, of the client, the team and client together, during introductions, during the work sessions and presentations and then, once again, before departure. During meetings and presentations, all discussions where channeled through interpreters on one or both sides. Very few people in Chengdu and Dujiangyan speak English. Facial expression is not common when doing business in China and can sometimes be seen as weakness. Silence is respected as a time for thought and reflection. So, effective communication really hinged upon words themselves. A traditional Sichuan-style lunch typically occurred with the client. Meals with clients are for forming personal relationships and bonds. This is not the time for discussion of work. This is the time for discussion of personal stories and interests. A time to find common ground. The Chinese are very warm and hospitable people. It is their goal to make you happy with food, drink and lively conversation. Without a good personal relationship, business exchanges can not be successful. In the afternoon and evenings, the team would make its way back to the hotel to roll up sleeves and get to work. Here, we would brainstorm, research, form recommendations, develop presentations and work closely with our translators to translate our deliverables. In the course of one week, my subteam would spend about 6 hours with one client and 10 times that working independently. Research was sometimes strained as the internet connection is very slow and some key web sites are blocked by the government. Time was precious. Dinner with clients was a similar to lunch yet with more toasting involved. Doing business in China calls for heavy drinking – its just a fact. Each person in the group is toasted and with each toast, one must down a small glass of wine. The larger the group, the crazier this gets. It is the clients mission to get you happy and falling down drunk. Singing or Karaoke will be involved. This is the way business is done. It is how bonds are formed. And, it was sometimes how our clients’ true business challenges are revealed.
Now let’s get to the projects. In week one, we focused on our first client, Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone. The city of Chengdu is in the early phases of building "Tianfu New City" by 2015. This new digital city will be the core area for the development of software and service outsourcing and science and technology. Aspirations for the city concentrate on commerce, internationalization, fashion and livability. Over 600,000 people will live and work in an area of 37 square kilometers. The city will be supported by all facets of any other typical city in the world -- metro, hospital, shopping, restaurants and more. The ICT subteam (Alfred, YY and I) formed recommendations for the design and planning of Tianfu New City. In our recommendations, we answer Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone's five principal questions: 1. What are the standards and criteria for the digital city? – Smart Planet Agenda and Smart Cities 2. What are some world-class digital cities and what makes them successful?– IBM profiled 50 cities – by categories of aspirational characteristics, Demographic segmentation by maturity and growth, and Profiles of spending, technology adoption, business characteristics and environmental focus. We likened 3 cities to the aspirations and plan for Tianfu New City– Those were: Madrid, San Francisco, Montreal 3. What is IBM's experience in helping to build digital cities in the world? –Albequerque (Smart Government), Stockholm (Smart Transport), Shanghai (Smart Healthcare) 4. How can we achieve sustainable development of the digital city? --- Focus on Clean-tech and Sustainability (resource economizing -- use less, use better) 5. What are IBM's recommendations for Tianfu New City? -- Starting with their goals and a long-term strategy, we recommend Chengdu select high-value projects that can be managed carefully to produce visible results : -- Dynamic Infrastructure, Smart Transport, Smart Health and Smart Government With this story I will say, the experiences of CSC teams in other countries are often times vastly different. Analyzing the supply chain of hand made pottery or beads in Ghana, is an assignment that may be “worlds apart” from this one. One of the things I learned from this project is that China is not an emerging country. China has – in effect – already emerged. Where we delivered consultation, the government believed there to be the greatest need and opportunity for societal impact. Although this project is strategic to the IBM business, it is also seen as strategic to the community and economy of Sichuan Province.
All over the world, governments are facing a critical need to address significant issues through better collaboration among organizations, communities and one another. Chengdu is no exception. Chengdu Municipal Information Office is the government agency dedicated to the development of the city's eGovernment platform. During week two, we met with Chengdu Municipal Informatization Office and learned that the government is working hard to build citizen-centered experience. The agency strives to connect people to programs based on their individual needs – be it a birth certificate or a new business license. There are challenges. They agency must transverse many government departments and processes as well as transform legacy infrastructure and resources. The agency also holds important goals in benefit of its citizens -- transparency of government, privacy of citizens and democracy. The Chengdu Municipal Informatization Office asked IBM CSC to help it achieve these goals and overcome these challenges. My subteam conducted an exploration and developed recommendations by introducing Smart Government concepts. Taking a close look at IBM's experience in working with the city of Dortmund, Germany and the Government of Denmark to accomplish the same goals. We also presented focused methodologies that bridge the gap between business process and IT infrastructure. Applying IBM's experience and methodologies, we asked Chengdu to continue to innovate its two-way communication and collaboration between government and citizen, business, department and employee. The result: The department chief accepted our recommendations and elected to focus on Component Business Modeling in their next phase of development.
In Sichuan Province on May 12 th , 2008 -- 68,000 lives were lost, more than 18,000 people went missing and more than 10 million were left homeless. Between 60 and 100 aftershocks between 4.0 and 6.0 magnitude occurred for 3 days after the main quake. All of the highways into Wenchuan, and others throughout the province, were damaged, resulting in delayed arrival of the rescue troops. Dujiangyan city was at the epicenter of this earthquake. Here, eight schools collapsed with thousands of students buried and hundreds dead. Primary and Middle Schools were excavated by civilians and cranes. Our first day in Dujiangyan city started with a Government Leader's Meeting at the Mayor's Office. This meeting included representatives from Dujiangyan Municipal Foreign Affairs, Chamber of Commerce and the Education Bureau. We had come to experience and learn much about the people, businesses and organizations of this area. As spokesperson for our team, I offered a brief speech -- What I described to Vice Mayor, Yan Daixiong, was IBM Corporate Service Corps' commitment to support social and economic growth and sustainability in Sichuan Province. I noted the great beauty, history and culture of Sichuan. I spoke for the team in saying that although the devastation of the May 12th earthquake was great -- the resilience, strong spirit and optimism found in the people of Dujiangyan is far, far greater. At that moment, our IBM team joined Dujiangyan in the rebuilding of its city. During our stay would worked closely with local businesses, a college and students of Xiang E Primary and Puyang Middle Schools. These two schools were just two of those affected during the earthquake. At Xiang E primary school, lives of 200 children and many faculty members were lost. Those that survived were able to crawl out of the collapsed building rubble. Many children lost family members. I really can not fathom the loss these children have felt. The schools have since been rebuilt. In middle school, 90% of students live in dormitories on campus. Their parents are farmers in more rural areas. The cost for each student's education and boarding is 200 RMB per year (approx. $30 USD). While the students do not get to see their parents often, their education will enable them to be of greater support to their families and villages in time. Here, teachers act as both teacher and parent. Campuses and dormitories are now three times their original size -- basketball courts, soccer field and all. The facilities are clean and beautiful. Last month, they received internet connectivity for the first time. While we were there, IBM China donated our Reading Companion software and 40 headphone sets to these students. The CSC team reserved money from our month's allowance to give to 10 students that were selected based on financial need and top academic achievement. The school will now help these students manage their money and purchase as many books and learning materials as they could ever hope for. So, what do you do with a gaggle of 12-year olds? In class, students typically wear uniforms, sit up straight for the duration and raise their arm sharply to request permission to speak. Games and songs are not usually applied for learning. Persuading teachers to allow the students to leave their desks took a bit of doing– but we did it. To start, we sang and moved to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". The children enjoyed all of the games. "Old MacDonald had a Farm" was a hit too. We also played a game to teach our names and the name of the country we are from. These students have never seen funny-looking foreigners such as ourselves before. We were quite the spectacle. Hundreds of smiles, giggles and laughter made any day with these kids one of the more rewarding experiences of our assignment.
While you read the summary on the slide, I’d like to read a short blog excerpt to give you a better sense of my experience. On Tuesday, the bus dropped us off at Jincheng College. Two ushers with red and gold silk sashes led us into an amphitheater-style auditorium in the round. We took our seats at the round table. Name cards, water bottles and microphones were placed at each of our seats. 30 students observed while Zhang Zhi Min, Dean of Computer Science and Software Engineering offered his welcome and description of the college vision, goals and teaching methodology. Our interpreters helped us through introductions, teaching methods, questions and answers. After our discussion, we adjourned to the customary Sichuan-style lunch. More than 12 spicy dishes of some recognizable and some not-so recognizable meats and vegetables were stacked on the spinning ‘Lazy Susan’ in the center of the table. Our lunch time conversation was punctuated and muffled by the periodic rush of Chinese fighter jets passing overhead. Local government and military outfits (at that time were) preparing for Oct 1st, National Day -- a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the formation of the People's Republic of China. After lunch, we took a tour of the campus and various labs. We also met with Zou Guangyan, the President of Jincheng College of Sichuan University. The team had elected me to be our spokesperson on a number of occasions. I value these speaking opportunities. The experience of receiving and reciprocating the warm welcome and respect of such a provincial figure is really something to treasure. On Wednesday, the bus dropped Alfred, YY, Bright and myself off at Jincheng College again. It must have been the same two ushers with red and gold silk sashes that led us into a different lecture hall this time. Imagine our surprise when the echo of applause revealed the ‘small student workshop’ we were to lead was actually a room filled with 275 eager young students standing and clapping. The room was decorated with balloons and gold streamers and a red-fringed table cloth. Bowing and clapping occurred at every pause in our speech. Camera flashes abound. You would have thought a rock-star reputation preceded us. Yet, when I posed the question, “How many of you are know who IBM is?” only 3 hands popped up. I learned later that this was due to shyness as students feared I would call on them with a question. Later on when asked, “How many of you would be interested in working for IBM?”, all 275 students raised their hands. For an hour and a half we introduced IBM and presented technology trends, skills development and mentoring. Just when I thought the audience had calmed, my favorite point in presentation occurred. Our secret was revealed. YY broke his cadence of English and started speaking fluent Mandarin. All of the students stood up and erupted in smiles and applause. During the question and answer session, we found students curious to know: How they could join IBM Corporate Service Corps How to have IBM recognize their university degree How to collaborate with a team each day How to learn English In the afternoon, we shared our specific recommendations with Dean Zhang Zhi Min and the professors of the Computer Science and Software Engineering department. We discussed ideas and solutions for helping to develop students into not just job-ready IT experts but the independent, innovative and free thinkers that they truly are. The dean accepted our talent development model instantly. There was much realization and agreement on the value of cross-discipline collaboration and foundational competencies such as adaptability, critical thinking and communication. Some general observations Universities are extremely eager to learn and adopt new technology trends and methods. A wide array of educational avenues exist to develop the local IT talent pool. However, a high degree of academic emphasis is on job placement. Creativity is not always nurtured. One professor asked, “Our logical thinkers are good students, but what do we do with our imaginary thinkers? Do we tell them that school is not for them?” It took some explanation to establish the value of creativity and its role toward innovation. The entrepreneurial spirit is not inherent in all students. A professor of a vocational program whereby students formed virtual companies complained that none of the students wanted to be the CEO, they all wanted to be the workers.
Further afield … Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya'an Leshan Giant Buddha (233-foot tall Buddha carved out of the face of a cliff in the tang Dynasty (618-907). Mount E’mei (One of four most famous Buddhist mountains) Mount Qincheng (The origins of Taoism) Dujiangyan Irrigation system (Irrigation infra-structure built in 256 BC and located in the Min River) Top 10 (not-so-serious) lessons learned 10. Pandas attend kindergarten. 9. You can get your ears cleaned at the local tea house. 8. There is no fourth floor in China. 7. The Dutch don’t request doggie bags and don’t understand why Americans do. 6. Maintain eye contact while your client eats chicken feet. 5. Bring Tamaflu. (reference my blog story, “The Flu”) 4. Elephants walk the streets of urban India. 3. Catching a cab requires offensive tactics. 2. I can deter the force of 1000 men using Kung Fu. (applies to #3) 1. Any Buddhist site will be on a remote and isolated mountain top at least 900 steps away.
On the last slide, I have included links for you to see and learn more about the country and work through my blog and photos and that of the team. This concludes my presentation. Thank you for your time. I would now like to open it up for questions.
One Month in China with IBM Corporate Service Corps