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Women Corporate Directors Visionary Awards

Remarks by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Marriott Marquis, New York, New York

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thank you to the Women Corporate Directors for hosting us this evening. It is a pleasure to be here tonight alongside this group of accomplished leaders—Mr. Paul Polman, Dame Marjorie Morris Scardino, and The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman.

I am delighted to be here tonight to represent IBM and to receive this honor on behalf of its employees, who are sharing their expertise and technological knowledge to create and to deliver shared value through their efforts to build a smarter planet.

Smarter Planet is IBM’s vision of a world that is becoming instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent. Did you know that there are now a billion transistors for every human being, and that we are producing them in greater numbers and at a lower cost than grains of rice?

Tiny transistors, which can amplify and switch electronic signals, along with mobile devices using the electronic circuits made from them, as well as bar codes, and other forms of instrumentation, are being infused into things no one would think of as a computer—packages, cars, roadways, livestock, power lines… even forests and rivers. All of this is being connected by the Internet.

It is generating unprecedented volumes of data. And we now have the advanced computation and analytics to make sense of it, in near-real time. This is creating entirely new opportunities for innovation in energy, water, food, transportation, and healthcare, as well as commerce, production, public safety, and education.

A few years ago, these would have been a corporation’s social responsibility initiatives. Today, it is a list of IBM’s markets.

Addressing these new markets requires new approaches to creating value, not just through traditional "public-private partnerships," but through a much more direct, intimate form of co-creation that spans civil society.

You see this approach in IBM programs like the Corporate Service Corps, which is sometimes referred to as the corporate version of the Peace Corps. Over the last five years, IBM has sent 2,200 of its top employees on 700 team assignments to 30 countries in growth markets. The program, now in its fifth year, deploys business and technology experts to help build local economies and to develop their own leadership skills as global professionals.

You also see it in the Smarter Cities Challenge, which is a competitive grant program designed to help 100 cities become smarter and more livable.

The fusion of business and citizenship strategies—the combination of technology, expertise, and collaborative co-creation—has proven to be a powerful leadership development model for IBM and one that is far more scalable and sustainable than traditional forms of philanthropy.

As a member of IBM’s Board of Directors, I am focused on the health of IBM’s business and the returns it provides to its shareholders. IBM is very definitely a profit-making enterprise. But IBM’s success over more than a century has convinced me and my fellow directors that the idea of shared value is very real, very practical—and far more lasting than single-minded focus on the bottom line. We strongly believe that IBM is opening up enormous new possibilities, not just for business, but also for communities, cities, and organizations across civil society to innovate in ways that make not just a profit, but also a difference.

We are deeply proud of the legacy of this great company, a legacy that remains vital today. On behalf of my fellow directors, IBM’s leadership, and 430,000 IBMers around the world, I am honored and grateful to accept the Visionary Award for Shared Value from Women Corporate Directors.

Thank you.

Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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