By Melanie Lowenberg.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my journey to IBM began in 2006 in a classroom in rural North Carolina, United States. I was a recent college graduate standing at the front of the room with a marker and big plans, eager to teach my students but not quite sure how to begin. My students hailed from six countries, and many spoke English as a second language. All of them were behind from an academic perspective. My students needed a great teacher from day one, and I was just learning the basics.
As I struggled through that first year – often taking one step forward, then two steps back – something shifted radically in the way I viewed the situation. I adopted a growth mindset. I first learned this concept from the book Mindset by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. Adopting a growth mindset means that “brains and talent are just the starting point.” It means recognizing the value of continually reinventing yourself. It means that ability is not fixed; it can be developed over time. With this mindset, I became a much different person. I was fortunate to witness this same transformation in many students.
How did a growth mindset lead me to IBM? As I entered the next stage of my career, I looked for companies that would support my need for continuous growth. I found IBM, a company with a rich history of realigning to new markets and opportunities. Transformation is core to IBM’s identity, and all IBMers are expected to “restlessly reinvent” the company and themselves.
In my first few years at IBM, I’ve lived in China and the United States as a participant in the Human Resources Leadership Development Program. Working in another country so early in my career has shaped my leadership perspective in valuable ways. In China, I’ve learned to adapt my individualist approach and to spend more time building relationships that enable team success. I’ve taken on both project management and operational roles that required me to develop vastly different skills. I’ve worked with colleagues from dozens of countries, in the process learning to adapt my approach to fit the cultural context. Every day presents an opportunity for growth, and I’m just getting started!
Do you have a growth mindset? You just might be an IBMer.
Melanie Lowenberg joined IBM in 2012 after receiving a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She currently works in Recruitment Operations and is based in Shanghai, China. She began her career as an educator with Teach For America, a movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty receive an excellent education. She also worked at the Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, supporting students in applying business skills to creatively address non-profit and public sector challenges. Connect with Melanie on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.