My Transformational Experience in the IBM HRLDP

We previously shared a story about the IBM Human Resources Leadership Development Program (HRLDP)- Insights from the Program Manager’s experience.  Today we continue this HRLDP blog series featuring one of its graduates, Jonathan DeGraff.   

Jonathan is a HR Partner for IBM Cloud and Digital. He graduated from the dual MILR/MBA program at Cornell University, and he is an alumnus of the IBM HRLDP. While in the HRLDP, he worked in several regions including Latin America and Asia. Check out his experiences and his tips to succeed in this program.

Jonathan helped redesign IBM’s worldwide performance management system while in Shanghai, China.

What was your most rewarding or challenging experience during the program?

 Several experiences stand out in my mind from my time in the IBM HRLDP – spending a year abroad to help grow operations in Latin America, working in Asia to help redesign IBM’s worldwide performance management system, and receiving exclusive executive mentorship. However, my most rewarding experience was leading the 2013 HR Intern Program, where our team partnered together over the course of a year to drive the program’s expansion into 11 countries, becoming Big Blue’s first intern program to enter Africa and achieving a record yield.

What did it take to be successful in this program?

Drive is integral to succeeding since the program is tailored to the individual. 

Some companies staff their leadership development programs with a homogenous cohort, running them through the same set of experiences and then “graduating” them at the same level. What appealed to me about the IBM HRLDP is that it seeks the best talent from across various disciplines and backgrounds, and then customizes program offerings and outcomes based on each participant’s interests, ambitions, and results.  Open-mindedness is also key to succeeding because some of the best opportunities will be those you’re encouraged to take but might not have considered otherwise. IBM has a long and vaunted track record of developing leaders, so just as important as taking initiative is trusting in the process.

Jonathan was part of the IBM Mexico Leadership team during a year long assignment there.

How did this program influence your career choices and development?

 When I was contemplating my post-graduate employment, I knew I didn’t want my development to end then or even stagnate. I wanted to work for a company whose people and resources would rival those of the top universities and institutions, and accelerate my growth. That’s what drew me to IBM and it’s why the IBM HRLDP is so transformational.

If you are considering a career in HR, take some time to check out our other HRLDP stories.

Learn more about IBM HR Leadership Development Program

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