Going to ... and make it a better world


In the past years, I have been intrigued by international humanitarian organization such as Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Having no medical degree I looked to two other organizations with a better fit to my profile and background. First, with my engineering background, I checked out Engineers Without Borders. However this is not a very active organization these days. Second, as a pilot, I checked out Aviation Without Borders. It is a great program, but no needs for additional volunteer pilots nowadays.

During the eastern holidays, at the beginning of April, I received an internal IBM mail from BeNeLux Communications department. The application for the next round of Corporate Service Corps (CSC) program was announced to be opened on April 23 th. The CSC program is IBM’s leadership development program that sends teams of IBMers to work on projects in developing countries, addressing core societal challenges. Although, in the past I read occasionally about the CSC program, I clicked this time the link and started going through all the details. The following weeks I studied the details, and concluded that this was the opportunity to apply for now. I was getting curious to see the questions of the application form. At the opening of the application I logged into the CSC website and opened the application form. Initially, I was very encouraged by the easy questions. Until I scrolled down the list of questions and arrived at four essay questions, there I was getting discouraged. I closed down the browser, and continued my work.

Corporate Service Corps

A few days later I took a second look to the essay questions and started to pencil down the keywords that could be the cornerstones of the answers. I made up my mind and drafted the application form, but kept struggling with good answers to the essay questions. Over the weeks I rephrased my answers several times and remained unsatisfied. In the morning of the very last day I opened again application form, went through the answers. I decided to give up, and closed the browser. In the evening I saw the printed drafts on my desk and got furious. I logged in again, reworked that evening the answers entirely again and again. I must have spent hours on the answers to those four essay questions, as only those would be really differentiating. On the late evening of May 12th I was satisfied with the answers and submitted the application form.

Corporate Service Corps

The next morning I was somehow relieved that I took the decision and called my manager whose approval was the next step in the approval process. She was now the first person aware of my application. She supported my decision and approved one of the following days, with recommendations. Thereafter I was left in the dark, having no clue on the number of applicants, no clue on whatsoever the outcome will be. A few days later I re-opened the submitted application form and noticed that I did not answer the last question which indicates my geographical preference. I changed my mind, thinking that the odds to be selected will be very low given that there were probably a very high number of applicants versus a limited number of available places, and put the CSC program out of my mind.
May 26th was an awful day in my calendar, visiting a partner in Merelbeke, thereafter rushing to Leuven to pitch about cloud in front of the board of directors of a customer, and next rushed to the office to prepare with a colleague a next day customer, in between hanging in conference calls while driving. I came back home late and after dinner turned back to my mail and was very surprised with a mail ‘Congratulations on your acceptance to the Corporate Service Corps’. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I told the family that I applied, and was selected. They shared my happiness, and together we are now curious to know the CSC project (the team, the challenge, when, and where) I will work on.
I’m looking forward to this new challenge and experience ;)