Each woman nominated for a feature interview answers a few short questions about IBM and her career. Here’s what Kathy has to say about working at IBM.
What made you decide to work for IBM?
When I was about to graduate from college, I had accepted (but not started) a job with another company when the IBM offer came in. My father, who was in sales at an insurance company, knew enough about business and computers/technology to know that I would have a better future at IBM. My first instinct was to decline the IBM offer since I had made a commitment to another company. However my father, who was more experienced in business than I, assured me that this happens and the other company would get over it. I accepted the IBM offer and he helped me write the rejection letter to the other company. I have never regretted that decision for one day.
Can you describe an interesting project?
My new role with IBM, Market Development, is a most interesting assignment for me. My team and I are responsible for extending IBM’s footprint with constituent owned businesses. That is businesses owned by Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American and Women in North America. I also am personally responsible for marketing to businesses owned, led and influenced by women globally. Multicultural women business owners, an additional focus of mine, are one of the fastest growing market segments in North America and many countries worldwide.
Specifically, my team sponsors and works with constituent associations to:
• Represent IBM’s growth initiatives (e.g. Cloud, Smarter Planet, Big Data, mobile and Growth Markets),
• Provide entrée to IBM’s ecosystem (e.g. business partners, suppliers, mentoring, Global Entrepreneur Program…),
• Facilitate connections with other constituent organizations such as NGOs, government resources and other constituent focused business initiatives (SME Toolkit- in 42 markets and 18 languages, Tuck/WBENC, Supplier Connection, Global Roadmap to 2020, etc…)
• Identify, track and work with constituent IBM Business Partners as we present at conferences and pass IBM opportunities on to them
• Nurture c-suite relationships and identify potential opportunities for IBM
IBM Market Development was formed over sixteen years ago to focus on this constituent multi-cultural marketplace. Ensuring that these businesses know that IBM has business solutions, services, software and technology to help their businesses grow and succeed.
Has IBM provided you with any unique work-life integration solutions?
I have worked for IBM for over 30 years and my whole life has been one of “work and life integration.” I married while working for IBM- to another IBMer. We moved five times with IBM, gaining a promotion for one of us each time. IBM helped the other one of us find a new job with IBM at the new location or work remotely at the same job. We had three children while working at IBM. I took a combination or maternity leave, vacation and a short leave of absence which added up to about three to four months off when the children were born. Each time I returned to work at the same or similar job and never felt that being a mother hurt my career at IBM. My husband retired from IBM when the children were still in school, so he was able to be there for the family while I travelled and continued to further my career with IBM. I have worked from a home office for the last 10 years. This provides me with the flexibility to have a personal life and fit it well with my business life. I can participate in volunteer, sports, and social activities in the community where I live. Because I do not have a commute to work, I have more hours every day to dedicate to both IBM and my personal life.
What makes you proud to be an IBMer?
Two things make me most proud of IBM- 1.the ethics that are in our culture and 2.the quality of the people we employ. I have always felt that IBM was one of the most ethical companies in the world and still do today. Given a choice between doing the right thing or business gain, IBM has always encouraged us to do the right thing. Secondly, I am always impressed with the IBMers who I meet around the world. They are smart, ethical and always focused on the customer with a “can do” attitude.
Do you have a special IBM story that you’d like to share?
Our daughter is an IBMer. She has been with the company for about four years now. During the Client Experience Jam, she talked about what the IBM values meant to her. She stated, “As a second generation IBMer, I’ve grown up living the IBM values. When I started in the field at IBM after graduating from business school, it was not my education that helped me succeed with clients, but rather the fundamental and ingrained core values that my IBM parents instilled in me. As a power brand specialist, I was honest about our brand superiority along with possible limitations, which ultimately helped me build trust and long lasting client relationships early on. I also believe that the ability to think creatively about crafting solutions that work for both the client in terms of meeting project goals as well as for IBM in terms of profit/revenue and operational bounds is the key to client success. It is with this “can-do attitude” that I found great client success and trusted client relationships.“ I felt very proud when I read this quote from my daughter.
**For more information on IBM, women at IBM, or to view our open positions, please visit: https://www-03.ibm.com/employment/jobs/women_at_ibm.shtml