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Alumni Dan Gateno's Blog:
A Month of Corporate Service in India


Dan Gateno with team members
Dan Gateno (far right in Chile t-shirt) with some of his IBM team members. Read Dan's blog at http://dagatenocsctrip.blogspot.com/
Dan Gateno & friends
Dan's teammate, Chris Greenwood (right), Annie from PSI, and Dan. Chris and Dan are wearing traditional Indian shirts called kurtas.

When he travels overseas, alumni Dan Gateno’s (MBA ’09) philosophy is simple: “When in Rome . . ..” So it’s little wonder that that same philosophy took hold when he engaged in a one month Corporate Service Corps project in India through his employer, IBM. The blog he kept during his adventure http://dagatenocsctrip.blogspot.com/ reflects that spirit of diving in and experiencing the local colors, flavors, and pace. Gateno was always ready to roll up his sleeves – whether he was helping to set up a better data management system for a non-governmental organization (NGO) or getting a henna tattoo on his forearm.

IBM established the Corporate Service Corps program in 2007 to immerse its employees in projects around the world that get them, in IBM’s words, “working at the intersection of business, technology, and society.” Gateno and eleven other IBMers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Germany, Spain, U.K., Denmark, and Japan were selected to go to India. Prior to the trip, he and the team were given considerable preparation covering such subjects as cultural adaptability, media relations, ethics, and consultancy skills. Once in India, they were split into six teams to work on six projects.

Gateno was teamed up with a fellow IBMer from the U.K. named Chris Greenwood and together, with input from their assigned NGO Population Services International (PSI), they set about to establish a more efficient knowledge management system for collecting and organizing information. “They had been trying for about a year to find the right people for that assignment,” Gateno said. He credits his MBA with helping him with the project. “All of the strategic business development I had studied provided a good foundation,” he said.

Since returning from his trip, Gateno said, “I have a greater appreciation for the things that I have. We went to some of the slums. It was really eye-opening. I have no right to complain about my lifestyle here.” He was impressed by the unity of family that he witnessed in India and the extremely strong work ethic.

Dan Gateno with kids
Dan with girls from an orphanage that he met while touring Bannerghatta National Park.

People from the IBM team and from PSI have become friends. “I met some great people, and we have stayed in touch,” he said. The IBM team still holds monthly meetings via web technology. “We talk about our families, share holiday traditions, and recipes,” he said. Friends at PSI recently sent him a DVD of a Bollywood movie that he liked while in India.

Gateno thoroughly enjoyed his Corporate Service Corps adventure. “It’s a wonderful program. These types of programs are essential in building the key leadership of the future all over the world,” adding that he would do it again “in a heartbeat.” That will be good news to a future leader in his own family. Since returning from his trip, his nine-year-old daughter has been repeatedly asking, “Dad, when are we going to India together?”

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, kmcquill@d.umn.edu

 

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