Corporate Service, Social Impact

Krannert alum joins diverse IBM leadership team on monthlong effort to assist Chinese startups

Susan JischkeAwaking before dawn, I took one last look at the video baby monitor of my sleeping 18-month-old, said goodbye to my husband and made my way to the airport. I was a mix of nervous and excited, but most of all reflective.

I knew that the past 10 years, if not more, had prepared me for this experience. I have always had a passion for volunteering and looking for ways to use my skills for benefiting others. But I never imagined I would spend a month in southeast China on the most incredible professional and personal experience with IBM’s Corporate Service Corps leadership development program. Teaming with 10 other IBM employees from six different countries, we set out to disconnect from our day jobs and dedicate a month to provide pro bono consulting services to three small startups.

In graduate school, I met classmate and friend Jessica O’Leary, who quickly became a role model for smart, socially and environmentally minded business women, whether she knew it or not. We worked together building the Net Impact student organization, which mobilizes students and professionals to use their skills and careers to make a positive impact on the world. Throughout Rawls Hall, we drove environmental and social initiatives to share our passion with others and also traveled as a group to two national conferences, which is where I really saw a similar passion in the corporate world.

While interning at IBM, I took it as an opportunity to understand what my potential employer was doing to change the world for the better. I saw the passion in other interns and new hires, and organized volunteer opportunities for our weekends in the Hudson Valley area. I could tell that IBM was the place for me to be able to bring my whole self to work, including my passion for social change. I experienced firsthand that IBM’s Corporate Social Responsibility report was not a shallow attempt to lure millennials, but instead a deeply rooted passion for progress.

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