Volunteer Excellence Awards Honor IBM's Culture of Service

Volunteer Excellence Awards Honor IBM's Culture of Service

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - 1:00pm

CAMPAIGN: Employee engagement in communities


Each year, IBM bestows the Volunteer Excellence Award – the company’s highest form of volunteer recognition (our CEO level recognition) – on those individuals or teams who best personify IBM’s Culture of Service. This award is highly competitive. Winners are selected from more than 265,000 IBM volunteers in 120 countries. The award underscores our commitment to the communities in which we live and work, and recognizes those whose dedication, innovation and personal commitment to service plays an essential role in enabling the transformation of our nonprofit and education clients. We use the word “clients” as a key term here because IBM’s commitment to service is integrated with our overall business strategy. From governments and NGOs to communities in developing markets to children and young people just beginning to build their lives, all of our clients receive the best of our skills, expertise and technology.


Check out the brief synopses of our award winners’ stories below, and be on the lookout for more details in the coming months.


  • In Canada, Justin Burchart, Dave Rose and Michael Xu have developed and run programs at Junior Achievement of Ontario (JACO) that educate and inspire young Canadians seeking to understand business and economics, and develop entrepreneurial skills. IBM has enjoyed a relationship with JACO for 25 years, and Justin’s, Dave’s and Michael’s dedication to youth education – with some efforts stretching back 15 years – has cemented their place as transformative influencers in the community.
  • In China, En Chang (Anson) Zhou has mentored fellow people with disabilities in Shanghai, providing them with a role model, tangible job training skills, and potential career opportunities at IBM. Two IBM community grants have helped Anson and the Shanghai Wanbang Care and Service Center host a unique entrepreneur competition for young people with disabilities, and with a site visit to meet other IBMers with disabilities and learn about accessibility technology.
  • For 20 years, Uwe Doebler, an IBM volunteer in Germany, has led the not-for-profit he founded to teach computer literacy to children. In that time, Kinder-Computerschule has grown significantly, becoming an essential part of supplemental education in the region – starting with just 5 students in 1995 to now training more than 850 students per week across the state of Thuringia in central Germany. Students, some as young as kindergarten age, perform computer activities that are aligned with their school curricula – using pre-installed software to solve tasks in math, language, science and more.
  • In response to a projected shortage of engineers in Hong Kong by 2017, IBM volunteers and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups jointly developed a career-related experiential program to enthuse and inform teenagers about engineering and related areas. Launched four years ago, the Engineers Workshop program was held 22 times in 2014, reaching over 4,000 secondary school students.
  • In India, Naveen Prathapaneni has tirelessly shared his expertise, passion and commitment to make essential contributions that have included helping a foundation use technology to achieve a 25 percent increase in efficiency, leveraging IBM Community grants to improve help line operations supporting rural education and thousands of students, setting up a science labs and digital classrooms in schools, and more. Naveen also has mentored nearly 400 students – 60 percent of them female.
  • Led by Ireland volunteers, Niambh Scullion, Brendan Murray, Sean Callanan and Lorenzo Cipriani, an international team of IBMers is helping young people between the ages of five and 17 to learn how to code. The children develop websites, apps, programs and games, and explore technology through the CoderDojo Foundation – a global network of volunteer-led, programming clubs for young people. Licenses of IBM SmartCloud Sametime have been granted to the CoderDojo Foundation to facilitate remote mentoring, which has become an ongoing practice in clubs. A new IBM Activity Kit “Kids Code!” was created and shared, along with Bluemix tutorials, on the foundation’s website. The activity kit was accessed 900 times in its first week online.
  • After recent devastating earthquakes in Italy, IBM volunteers and representatives from the Italian authority in charge of coordinating natural disaster response decided to add an evacuee module to Sahana’s disaster management software. The Sahana Foundation provides open source information management solutions to help communities prepare for and respond to disasters. Led by Antonia Paldera, the four-member IBM team leveraged its professional skills in product and project management, software development and marketing to develop the software module and communicate its availability.
  • After the Great East Japan earthquake, eleven IBMers in Japan united to form team “Tasuki” to coordinate how their individual skills and talents could be applied across the area’s needs. Each volunteer supported a particular organization, and regularly reported back to the full team to generate additional thinking and collaborate on how to address problems. The approach allowed team Tasuki to work on a range of issues including using TryScience with local schools to increase interest in STEM restoring community conditions collecting and providing school supplies and addressing post-traumatic stress symptoms in children.
  • In the Philippines, Sherwin Pelayo, an IBM service lead for analytics, used his expertise in project management, along with IBM volunteer assets, to help a foundation improve health, education, livelihood and preparedness in several Philippine communities. Sherwin used an IBM Project Management Activity Kit to help the group organize its activities, follow a weekly plan, and create process manuals and templates to replicate success. He used another kit to help the foundation identify metrics and measure its outcomes to support getting much-needed outside funding. With Sherwin’s help, reparation time for program implementation was reduced from three months to one month.
  • John Adby, an IBM volunteer in Bristol, United Kingdom, is using the need for speed to drive interest in STEM subjects with young people. An active volunteer for several years using TryScience and IBM Activity Kits to inspire young students, John became an Ambassador for the Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car) project in 2013 – a unique, high-tech, open doors, global engineering adventure using a 1,000 mph world land speed record attempt to inspire students. The car is being designed and built in Bristol, making it relevant to area young people.
  • In the United States, Audrey Romonosky has been committed to the students at CD Fulkes Middle School near Austin, Texas for more than a decade. Sixty percent of the school’s students are defined as at-risk. Audrey has shared her passion for engineering with over 1,200 students at the school, and her project management skills have enabled her to contribute to program execution and excellence. In addition, Audrey has logged hundreds of volunteer hours with Fulkes, helping the school receive several IBM grants for much-needed technology and supplies. She also has coordinated DiscoverE visits to the school, represented IBM at multiple career fairs, provided mock interviews at career week and mentored at the robotics after-school club, among other activities.
  • Also in the United States, IBMer Robert Andrews – a certified Disaster Service Technology volunteer and National Emergency Response Professional with the Federal Emergency Management Agency – has provided a wide range of emergency management and communication skills for local, state and federal entities. Robert is one of 10 certified Type 1 (Hurricane Sandy or Katrina level) Communications Unit Leaders in the United States, which means he is always on call. He has used his unique expertise and communications skills to serve people from dozens of locations in times of disaster, as well as at major planned events, such as the Boston Marathon and the State of the Union address.

Please join all IBMers and our partners and clients in celebrating our Volunteer Excellence Award winners’ commitment to service and the impact they are having on the world.

Diane Melley is Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives with IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs.

Related Resources:

Read Our Stories of Service

Learn More About IBM Activity Kits

Learn More About IBM Impact Grants

Learn More About IBM On Demand Community