Another IBM adventure on the horizon

I couldn’t resist and did it again – I applied for another IBM challenging but unique and super exciting assignment. IBM_Smarter_Cities_Challenge_Smarter_Cities_-_2014-04-23_22.06.25For over 3 years, IBM has been managing a fantastic initiative called Smarter Cities Challenge. As its website says ” The Smarter Cities Challenge contributes the skills and expertise of IBM’s top talent to address critical challenges facing cities around the world. We do this by putting teams on the ground for three weeks to work closely with city leaders and deliver recommendations on how to make the city smarter and more effective. Over the past 3 years, 100 cities have been selected to receive grants. The Smarter Cities Challenge is IBM’s largest philanthropic initiative, with contributions valued at over $50 million to date. “

In lame terms, any city or county worldwide can apply for this grant every year, describing the challenge they need help with. IBM selects a limited number every year and then deploys teams of 5-6 IBM experts to work on the challenge. Within IBM, there is a competitive application process, similar to the Corporate Services Corps that I did in Morocco last year. A little smaller though. The cities for 2014 were already selected and are listed here.

I applied in February and last week I was told that I am on waitlist. I was actually thrilled as this is really competitive – and waitlist is great ! The note said that I’d get a note if I was assigned in a next few months. Well, 3 days later I got a note that I am assigned to Vilnius, Lithuania – leaving in 5 weeks. Well, hello – that was very unexpected and a little quick. I am usually pretty efficient and ready but this took me off guard. We have a vacation planned for the first week with family, I’d miss Lucas’s birthday, his arrival/drive to a sleep away camp – and all are very highly anticipated. Not to mention, I was gone during the same time last week in Morocco for 5 weeks.  So, while a tough one, I made the decision to respectively decline.

It put into perspective a real work / life balance. I could have easily jumped on it and just skip the vacation and make it work. But I didn’t feel right about it.  If this is meant to be, than it will happen again. I was actually very comfortable with the decision – and still am. It was a right one and I didn’t question it and thought it was over. Today though, I found out that even though I declined this specific opportunity, I am still being considered for another city in 2014 – if a spot opens up. And if it doesn’t, then I will be put into the accepted list for 2015. So, hallelujah – very happy about that !! Bring on the challenge….

What do you think – Mombasa county, Japan or maybe Perth to pair it up with a stay with my brother/nephews? #scchallenge




  1. Congratulations Misha for your acceptance. I respect your decision to respectfully decline….your family is only young once and it is a very difficult balance to be a Senior Leader in our company, raise a family, and be active in your community—-all at the same time. The trick is to know that sometimes you spend more time on one of these than the other, and that’s ok. I am sure you will have another opportunity in the near future when it blends with your life better.


    • It is usually open during the Q1 for a few weeks – the criteria are similar to CSC – check it out on the w3 under Smarter Cities challenge !


  2. […] Last year I applied to IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge and got in on a wait list. The trip never materialized. I was approached for 2 cities but the timing was off for our family commitments so I didn’t participate. Well, come 2015 – and I applied again and this time go time for sure !. On May 11, the cities that received the IBM grant were selected and announced – so I was on the edge since then – what city am I going to go to and when? […]


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