Skip to main content
Celebration of Service

A deep commitment to volunteerism in Turkey

During IBM’s centennial year, employee Derya Sel has already volunteered more than 110 hours

Derya Sel, a senior consultant in IBM’s Global Business Services, and a recent On Demand Community Excellence Award winner, has been working as a volunteer for the last 10 years in Istanbul, Turkey.

When she joined IBM in 2007, Derya began using IBM On Demand Community, a global community that combines the skills of over 200,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative IBM technology, training, and support. Derya combined combined her volunteering activities with IBM’s On Demand Community solutions and developed new projects with the Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfi (Community Volunteers Foundation), known as TOG.

Derya established TOG Alumni, a new division of the non-governmental organization (NGO), made up of former university student volunteers who have now graduated and want to continue their volunteer work. TOG Alumni has grown rapidly and now has over 100 active volunteers.

A Celebration of Service

During IBM’s centennial year, IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano has invited all IBM employees to join him in community service by pledging at least eight hours during 2011. Derya has already completed 110 hours of volunteering for her Celebration of Service pledge. She participated in a robotics Lego event to help physically disabled children learn how to build a Lego robot and is also reading and recording books to add to the library for blind people.

On June 15th, during the Centennial Day of Service, Derya worked with IBM colleagues and TOG Alumni volunteers to provide a series of career sessions in different areas of business for TOG university students from Istanbul and other cities in Turkey. The volunteers hope to fill the existing void in career path knowledge by sharing information on their own careers and professions and serving as career mentors.

“When I was a volunteer in my college years,” said Derya, “TOG taught me how to transform my potential energy into social benefit and how to be an active citizen. In the last 10 years, I joined various volunteer projects with youth and children, which helped me a lot in gaining an innovative way of thinking along with management and leadership skills. Finally, I got the opportunity to pay it back to TOG as an IBMer, by leveraging my consultancy skills to establish the TOG ‘alumni group’, a kind of convergence of my volunteer work and job.”

Sustained volunteering

Ibrahim Betil, the founder and president of TOG, and former General Manager of Garanti Bank, has this to say about Derya’s devotion to volunteerism: “Derya is a highly ethical person and abides with principles of volunteerism. Recently, Derya was nominated to become a member of the TOG Board of Directors. She was elected by the trustee committee to serve as vice-chairman.”

As part of her work with TOG, Derya has also developed and served as the team captain for a project called “Ants of Cultural Heritage,” which helps secondary school students from disadvantaged districts of Istanbul learn about the cultural heritage in their surroundings.

Using the “Share project management skills” solution in IBM’s On Demand Community volunteer program, Derya initiated the “We Are Reading Books” project, designed to create awareness about the importance of reading books. She organized a ‘reading partners’ event where 40 young volunteers (students) and 15 alumni volunteers (adults) each worked one-on-one with a young child, reading books for an hour.

Derya also shared some IBM best practices with TOG Alumni members, leading two important projects about waste prevention and recycling in the office, as well as a wheelchair donation program. TOG Alumni volunteers are now running these projects in their own companies.

TOG, under Derya’s leadership, has also become Turkey’s first World Community Grid partner. (World Community Grid brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power.) The TOG team has achieved a total run time of almost nine years, helped by the user guide Derya created in Turkish to increase the number of local members for the team.

IBM grants enhance volunteer hours

Based on Derya’s extensive and sustained volunteer hours, TOG was able to receive cash Community Grants for the last two years, and Derya is planning to apply for a Celebration of Service Catalyst Grant in 2011 to help fund the organization’s projects.

“Derya is one of our exceptionally consistent volunteers,” continues TOG president Ibrahim Betil. “Having effectively involved TOG activities in her university, after her graduation she developed, sustained and deepened her voluntary efforts by taking the lead in the establishment of the TOG ‘alumni group’. This set a good example and helped many of our volunteers spread and sustain volunteer activities at early stages of their business lives. As a result, some 7-10 percent of our local and nationwide annual activities have been partially funded or supported by the alumni group.”

Building a smarter community

Derya Sel’s dedication to community work is a great example of skills-based volunteerism in which she shares her experience and knowledge acquired at IBM directly with school children and disadvantaged groups. Indirectly, she also inspires her fellow TOG alumni, thereby influencing the volunteer work they carry out in their own companies. Her focus on skills, education, culture, computing and consulting capability, and her ability to share this with so many individuals and groups through her volunteer work, are making a big contribution to the future success and prosperity of many people in Turkey.

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.