Women at IBM – meet Samantha Patel, Global Technology Services, IBM US!

Each woman nominated for a feature interview answers a few short questions about IBM and her career. Here’s what Samantha has to say about working at IBM.

Have you had any valuable mentors?  How have they helped you in your career?

To me, having a mentor is like free therapy—something you do not want to pass up. There are some amazing leaders at IBM, and if you respectfully use time with them at important junctures in your career, they can offer objective opinions to steer you in the right direction, avoid pitfalls, and ultimately provide you with the kind of career advice that will be priceless. I have had both formal and informal mentors throughout my career—one of whom ended up being present at the birth of my daughter—and is now a personal friend! Another one of my mentors was Jim Corgel, and I offered to drive him back to his hotel after a team dinner and used my time wisely to ask him questions. He gave me great advice, but I noticed he was kind of agitated. Eventually, he asked if I wouldn’t mind switching on the lights on the car. I had been so anxious to talk to him that I had not noticed that I was driving at 10 p.m. at night with no headlights on! Note to self: make sure you do not put your mentor in danger!

Can you describe an interesting project?

I have been very fortunate to focus on the subject of IT risk for the last five years. I have worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit who is affiliated to the Economist magazine. This year, we focused on the subject of Reputational Risk and IT and the results were both fascinating and groundbreaking. We all live a very interconnected life on a smarter planet, and the study of more than 500 IT managers from around the globe revealed that this subject is important to our clients as they realize how much IT, and especially the continuity and security of data, is truly the crown jewels for any company. The study is now quoted as a reference on Wikipedia in the definition for Reputational Risk, and if you google Reputational Risk and IT, IBM is at the top for paid and organic search. I am very proud of the work and the fact that IBM is leading this conversation—check it out on www.ibm.com/services/riskstudy

Has IBM opened the doors to any new experiences for you?

IBM has played a significant role in my life. I came to the US from England to work for IBM as a contractor in 1996 and now live North Carolina. To live in two very different countries has been a marvelous experience that I recommend to anyone who has the opportunity.

What advice would you give to our new IBMers?

Decide what you want to “be famous for.” When so many people work remotely and the getting-to-know-you process is not the old convention of face time, you really need to define yourself—your brand, if you like. I attended an IBM presentation that talked about being your own brand, and I know that I have always been tagged as a creative person.

Has IBM provided you with any unique work-life integration solutions?

I have been cursed with a fear of public speaking. It definitely has negative implications for both your work and home life.  I have been really lucky in the past year or so—a couple of my IBM colleagues have coached me in speaking and presenting both over the phone and in person. In February, after unflinching support and “pressure” from those same people, I spoke at a client event in Toronto about the latest study I had worked on. It was a real personal landmark for me, and my confidence both at work and home was changed forever—as they say. Oh, and the team in Canada invited me back in June to speak again—and it was enjoyable and not traumatic.

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