Since the first Corporate Service Corps teams were launched, there have been more than 3,000 IBM employees from 60 countries deployed to 37 countries to participate in the program, which is designed to build leadership skills in employees while delivering free consulting expertise and skills building in the host organizations.

Susan JischkeDue to the long-term effect in a community, the host organizations have estimated that over 40 million people will have been assisted if the projects succeed. From building comprehensive market, services and financial road maps enabling a Peruvian cancer clinic to reach 75,000 more women and quadruple its operating income to another project improving water, sanitation and hygiene practices for over 46,000 Ethiopians, the impact of CSC has been incredibly inspiring.

Each year, thousands of IBM employees apply to participate, but only around 10 percent are accepted. My first application was not accepted. But I knew with a few more years of experience, I could contribute to the program, and I was accepted the next time. It was a tough choice to leave a toddler at home, but with an incredibly supportive husband, also a Krannert master’s graduate, I had no doubts it was the right decision.

As a team, we prepared for three months by getting to know each other, familiarizing ourselves with the language and culture, as well as learning consulting methodologies and practices to help develop skills within the host organization. I was especially excited that my sub-team’s host organization is owned and operated by nearly all women, syncing well with my passion for developing female leaders.

Through the help of translators, we used our month to convey knowledge, skills and best practices on supplier sourcing, buyer behaviors and e-commerce strategies. We all had different expertise areas, tenure and interests. But we each came away with better teamwork and collaboration skills, cultural awareness, consulting skills and communication.

Equally as memorable was exploring Anhui province, spending Easter weekend in a Buddhist temple on beautiful Mount Jiuhua, attending a community bonfire, participating in karaoke in the city park, picking strawberries with our host organization, and riding bikes around the lake in Hangzhou. The value I gained is difficult to articulate. However, it solidified my perspective that the university you attend and the organization you work for also can help you live out your passions and be exactly who you want to be.

Susan Jischke, West Lafayette, IN, earned a BS in hospitality and tourism management from Purdue in 2006 and an MS in human resource management from the Krannert School in 2008. She joined IBM upon graduation and has served as global employee classification lead since 2014. Susan also is a board member of the Krannert School Alumni Association and an active supporter of United Way of Greater Lafayette.

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