Each woman nominated for a feature interview answers a few short questions about IBM and her career. Here’s what Beth has to say about working at IBM.
What made you decide to work for IBM?
That is a really great question! I joined IBM out of university. I didn’t consider myself to be a ‘computer person’, but I knew I wanted a career in sales and joined IBM because IBM had the premier North American sales training program.
After joining, the Basic Sales Training took about one year as I rotated between branch office-based education in my home town and structured classroom education in Toronto. Over that year, I spent about 12 weeks in Toronto in formal classroom and simulated sales training that included learning about IBM’s software and hardware products and how to be a consultative sales person. It was excellent preparation for my first job as an IBM systems salesperson. Many of the sales techniques and lessons I learned during that first year at IBM, I still use today.
What is your biggest accomplishment at IBM?
I have several accomplishments of which I’m particularly proud, but I consider my biggest accomplishment to be my conception and development of two IBM Canada growth initiatives. Both were approved and launched.
The first was to establish a GBS Social Services practice in IBM Canada to grow our consulting presence in government social service organizations and social NGOs. I was named the Partner and Canadian Social Service leader in order to make this strategy a reality. The second growth initiative focused on Canada’s Aboriginal marketplace. I developed a four point growth strategy based on Aboriginal inclusion in the technology sector. As a result of this strategy, IBM Canada invests in Aboriginal Human Resources, Community Relations & Investment and Business Development; since it was launched, IBM has had many clients join us as contributors to the initiative.
Has IBM opened the doors to any new experiences for you?
While I joined IBM to pursue a sales career and sold IBM hardware in my first roles, the breadth of IBM allowed me the freedom to explore a number of new career options. As the services business emerged at IBM, I had the opportunity to apply some previous job experience and take on a business role in the services business. That was over a decade ago and I’ve been in consulting ever since! I would have never considered myself a consultant, but my job experiences and the opportunities offered at IBM made that career path open to me. I now lead our AMS Sales organization for Canada. This is what makes a career with IBM exciting. You can change and develop as IBM’s business does.
What advice would you give to our new IBMers?
Find ways to get involved at IBM outside your specific job role to build your network and to find additional opportunities to develop your skills. Throughout my career for example, I have been very involved in IBM’s diversity programs which helped me to develop my leadership skills outside my day-to-day job.
I started an IBM Women in Technology program in my home province many years ago and — with a team of a team of great women — we delivered the program to over 6,000 girls. Currently, I am Canadian Executive Sponsor for IBM Persons with Disabilities Resource Group. As the result of my involvement with these diversity communities, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people outside my business unit and broadened my network within IBM Canada. I also found ways to leverage IBM’s diversity leadership in meaningful ways for my clients.
How has working in a global society impacted your career?
I had the honour to be among the first participants in the inaugural year of the Executive Service Corps program. My assignment was in Chengdu, China evaluating and augmenting Chengdu’s Smarter City strategy. It was an amazing experience to work with senior government and political officials to help them refine their strategy and give them near-term projects that allowed them to advance their work. Working through interpreters was a challenge, but it was exciting to learn the Chinese culture and work in their public sector environment. Our team left them with a significant deliverable and the experience forever changed me. Most of all, it reinforced my appreciation for the thought leadership IBM can bring to organizations globally.
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