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"Corporate peace corps” at work in Africa

"Corporate peace corps” at work in Africa

[photo of Derek Shimozawa, MSc’05]Derek Shimozawa at work with graduate students at UDOM

Last October, Derek Shimozawa, MSc’05, traveled to Dodoma, Tanzania, with the IBM Corporate Service Corps. A corporate version of the Peace Corps, the program brings together IBM staffers from different countries to work together on economic development projects.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to make a real contribution within a developing country while also enhancing my business and leadership experience,” says Derek, an Advisory IT Specialist with IBM in Vancouver.

While higher education in Tanzania has been identified as a fundamental requirement for economic development, fewer than half of the qualifying candidates are able to gain admission into the country’s universities. As a result, the Tanzanian government decided to build the University of Dodoma (UDOM), which is expected to have the capacity to enrol more than 40,000 students in various disciplines by 2012. Derek’s team worked to identify and prioritize existing obstacles to the University’s success and set IT recommendations to help the University reach its growth targets.

“Many universities, such as Queen’s, use electronic registration and student management systems to automate the administrative functions of their registrar’s office. Most of these processes are still done by pen and paper at UDOM. One of the key contributions made by the team was to provide planning and technology expertise and to help University staff plan the electronic automation and integration of its administrative activities.”

Derek particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the students at UDOM. “Even though they didn’t have a lot of the same academic and funding opportunities we have in Canada, the students at UDOM had a great deal of pride in their school, and most students we talked to felt they had a personal stake in the University’s future. It was a sentiment that I was familiar with from my graduate school days at Queen’s.”

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-1 cover]