In April 2009, an international team of nine IBM employees traveled to Chengdu, a city of 11 million in China's Sichuan Province and the region hit hardest by deadly earthquakes in May 2008. As part of IBM's Corporate Service Corps, the team spent four weeks working with local businesses, providing them with resources and training on projects where information technology is being used to springboard economic recovery and development. Jordan Olivero, a 2005 Colorado Christian University graduate, recently returned from that trip.
Jordan was hand-picked from a pool of 5,500 applicants to join the Corps team in China, where he headed a sub-team that offered consulting and training to members of the Chengdu Chamber of Commerce. CCU recently caught up with him to chat about his experiences overseas:
How were you developed as a professional through this trip?
I learned how to approach problem-solving more holistically, to assimilate complex business opportunities in emerging markets, and to work with and engage a diverse set of colleagues from completely different cultures.
How did you grow from the trip on a human level?
In one example, as I was stretching my arms while exiting a bus, a CEO we were about to greet approached me and lifted both of his arms in a similar gesture. Without having met the guy before, we ended up in a hug rather than a formal handshake. We had a great meeting after that. Humor has a way of breaking down cultural barriers.
Why did you feel it important to participate in the Corporate Service Corps?
I heard about the program when I returned from East Africa in 2007, and it seemed an obvious fit with my career goals and personal mission. I wanted to enhance my ability to draft effective policy that endures change in our constantly shifting world. I also wanted to gain new perspectives from colleagues with broad expertise and rich cultural diversity.
How did the experience influence your vision for your future?
This program fueled my entrepreneurial drive and boosted my commitment to IBM and to serving beyond my local community.
On July 1, Jordan was promoted to a business-development role driving IBM sales outside North America. He will finish the transition from management consulting to sales by the end of 2009.
Copyright 2009 International Business Machines Corporation
For more information about the IBM programs, visit the IBM Corporate Service Corps and IBM Corporate Responsibility websites.