Women in the Workplace

Fran O’Sullivan, General Manager of IBM GBS Global Operations, has been with IBM for over 35 years. As a woman working in technology, we asked her to share insights and experience on how her job at IBM has helped her find fulfillment in both her personal and professional life.

 Fran is known for being passionate about driving client experience, transformation, leadership and technical development and social. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a BS in Electrical Engineering and serves on the University of Virginia’s Engineering Board of Trustees. Fran has also served on the board of the North Carolina Coastal Pines Girls Scouts.

Women in the Workplace

By Fran O’Sullivan

Over the years I’ve reflected on what it is that gets me out of bed each morning. I always conclude that it is the satisfaction I get from making a difference in the world by working at IBM. We are constantly on the cutting edge of something new and exciting about to transform the world as we know it.


In the beginning of my career I worked as an Electrical Engineer on the NASA space shuttle launches which was both glamorous and challenging. Meeting astronauts was definitely a highlight.  Then I transferred to a new IBM business unit – The Personal Computer. We didn’t even know what to do with it at first – nowadays we can’t imagine the workplace without it.

I feel very privileged regarding the opportunities I have received at IBM. Not only have I garnered the ability to work on earth-shattering technologies, I’ve had the good fortune to be an entrepreneur, innovator, leader, student, teacher, influencer, mentor and mentee during my 35 years here. The IBM culture blended with my own durable personal ambitions and convictions and I have never considered being “held-back” due to gender.

When I started my IBM career, we had about 20% women in technical fields. I was convinced things would be improved down the road. I find it to be disappointing and challenging that, although improved, we are still only in the upper 20% in technical fields.  That has translated into a personal passion of mine on working with universities and K-12 organizations like the Girl Scouts to get them interested in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and I think frankly one of the things I love most about my job is helping women who are early in their careers get started.

 My time as an IBMer has certainly been a journey filled with stimulating, and rewarding challenges.  I now look forward to continuing to transform IBM Global Business Services through agile practices and transparency –2 key tenets of my leadership style.

Fran O’Sullivan is the General Manager of IBM Global Business Services Global Operations. She is also the IBM Senior State Executive for North Carolina and Senior Location Executive for IBM at Research Triangle Park, NC.

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