By Liana Mehring, Washington, D.C.
On June 2, 2014, I became an official employee of IBM. As I sat there at our orientation in Herndon, Virginia, I felt as though I was becoming a naturalized citizen of a new country. Becoming a citizen of United States, for example, requires that you learn about American values, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. A citizen’s rights include the freedom to express oneself and participate in national politics. A citizen’s responsibilities include staying informed of the issues affecting their community and furthermore, actively participating in that community.
In addition, all American citizens must learn our country’s history from early foundation to current affairs. The road to US citizenship is not unlike the road to employment at IBM. As an IBMer I am being taught a core set of values. Here at IBM I am being taught to think for myself and value innovation. At IBM I am responsible for demonstrating trust and personal responsibility in all my relationships. Furthermore, I have become a student of IBM’s one hundred year history and evolution as a company. Learning IBM’s history and values is critical to the process of becoming a ‘naturalized’ employee of the IBM nation.
And IBM very much resembles its own nation. Even the company’s size with 431, 212 employees (as of 2013) falls between the population size of Malta and Cape Verde. With a net income of $16.4 billion in 2013, IBM profits rival the GDP of countries like Rwanda and Benin. In addition IBM undeniably conducts its own form of international relations with more than half of its business (around 65 percent or so) overseas.
With my newly printed IBM ID in hand, I feel as though I have been granted a new passport. In the most literal sense, my career at IBM could take me across the globe with operations in over 170 countries worldwide. My work at IBM is not only about benefiting me or the company, but about benefiting communities across the globe. It has been just over two months since my own ‘naturalization’ process began and I am as excited now as I was my first day to exercise my new found citizenship and start building a smarter planet.