Image of Charles Liu
Charles Liu is one of the mentors from IBM Taiwan who received the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award for their work with youth volunteers at ACF.
Image of Charles Liu
Charles Liu is one of the mentors from IBM Taiwan who received the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award for their work with youth volunteers at ACF.

Creating a cycle of excellence is the goal of “Mentor the future mentors,” a program developed by IBM volunteers in Taiwan with The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) to serve rural communities.

ACF relies on university-aged youth volunteers to lead and inspire younger children during various camps designed to expand the horizons of students in rural Taiwan.

But what happens as the youth volunteers get older and want to focus more on career opportunities?

The IBM team applied their consulting skills to develop a mentoring program that grooms current youth volunteers for career success, while also giving them methods to recruit and mentor possible new youth volunteers—helping to sustain the pipeline of talent interested in supporting and developing the younger students.

IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty awarded the IBM Volunteer Excellence Award to the volunteer team in Taiwan for their outstanding work.

IBM Volunteers spoke to Charles Liu, one of the award-winning IBM volunteers and mentors who participated in the program. As a consulting solutions lead of GBS Learning & Knowledge in Taipei with twenty-two years of experience at IBM, Charles’ guidance was invaluable to the students.

Charles, congratulations to you and the volunteer team on this recognition.
Thank you very much. The original idea for the project was from Lisa Chen on the IBM corporate citizenship team. My fellow volunteers are from different units at IBM in Taiwan and each person Image of a smiling group of volunteers; some hold signs reading  Image of a smiling group of volunteers; some hold signs reading brought a high degree of expertise to the students. We have different strengths, and I believe it was very helpful for our mentees to receive supplemental viewpoints.

Of course, the recognition is very much appreciated—we’re honored. While the original objective was for the IBM volunteers to share their experience and knowledge, at the end, most of us also learned from the mentees! Getting the points of view from a younger generation was incredible. It was beyond our original expectation.

Why was it important for you to participate in project with ACF?
Sharing. I like and enjoy the sharing, and especially enjoy when the audience feels inspired. As I become more senior, I hope I can do more to contribute and give to others what I’ve been able to learn. Helping the young people in developing their future is an effective way to help the future of our own society.

What did you do in the project?
I was a mentor for five of the youth volunteers with the intention of helping them get a better starting point in their careers. Our mentees were close to graduating from university. That’s a key point in their career development, choosing a scholar roadmap to study in graduate school or enter a company as an employee.

Plus, the mentors provided guidance to the youth volunteers on how to take their knowledge and grow ACF and help more people and volunteers. They teach English, music and other subjects to the young students in rural elementary schools and at ACF. In the rural areas, the schools and the students have access to fewer resources, so these youth volunteers are really playing an important role and filling a vital gap.

What are a few of the activities you did with the mentees?
I was a strategy consultant at the time, so in addition to contributing overall career guidance, I was able to share mega trends about technology and business. Among other things, we did an interview simulation about applying for a new job. In one instance we heard from a mentee that the simulation really gave her confidence, and some of the questions in simulation were asked in her real interview!

I also invited a friend, who had worked in China, to share his career experience and his work challenges in his career and what he learned from those challenges. I had hoped doing this in a casual environment would be well received, and I think the mentees got some inspiration from it.

I believe the mentees considered the overall program very helpful, correct?
Yes, we did receive wonderful input from the youth volunteers. They gave the program a 100% recommendation rate. They all agreed the mentoring changed how they perceive challenges in the future workplace and now they are more confident to face those challenges.

Here are a few quotes from the youth volunteers:

  • “Many thanks to my mentor, Cynthia, who supported and taught me so many skills when I prepared for the government-funded teacher interview. I successfully passed the interview and realized my dream to become a teacher in the rural area.”
    - Shiun Lin
  • “If it were not for this program, I would not have had the opportunity to get connected with the IBM mentors who have such diverse experience and great visions.”
    - Lisa Yu

What is your hope for the youth volunteers who participated?
My contribution is just a seed. If the students feel they are inspired or get something out of our experience together, I hope they then try to help other young people as much as possible so that seed grows and creates more inspired volunteers. If they are inspired from my sharing, it is a sense of achievement for me.

The volunteers from IBM Taiwan are among 15 IBM teams and individuals who are recipients of the fourteenth annual IBM Volunteer Excellence Award. The award is recognition from IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty and is the highest form of global volunteer recognition given by the company to employees. It includes an IBM grant for the associated not-for-profit partner or school.

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