IBM sets service center opening

Hiring manager says 2015 for BR office

Mark your calendars. The IBM Service Center downtown is set to open on April 15, 2015.

Dima Ghawi, manager of talent development for the service center, announced the opening date during a speech before the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge on Wednesday.

“We have pictures of the building all around the office,” Ghawi said. “That’s one of the ways we’re working on motivating our employees. They see it and they just want to go there.”

Ghawi is responsible for managing and implementing training programs for new hires and leading community outreach efforts.

IBM already has more than 100 employees locally, working out of a temporary location in the Essen Centre office building. Under its incentives agreement with the state, the company wasn’t scheduled to hit the 100-employee milestone until June.

The employees are developing software applications for IBM’s private and public sector customers across the U.S. handling things such as business commerce, web design, cloud computing and business analytics. One of the plans for 2014 is to bring project management training to the local office, so Baton Rouge employees can lead work on behalf of IBM, Ghawi said.

“One thing we want is to be able to service the area here,” she said.

IBM plans a number of new initiatives in 2014. An internship program will start in the spring and Ghawi said she is looking to increase the number of young women entering computer science programs at local colleges.

The goal of IBM is to hire 200 employees a year through 2017, until the company hits its target of 800 employees at the Baton Rouge office. The company is hiring people through its website ibmlouisiana.com.

“I see the growth potential and it is absolutely amazing,” Ghawi said. “I’m happy to be able to contribute to it and I can’t wait for the next few years.”