IBM University Programs: Consulting by Degrees

By Masha Tseveen.

Welcome back to our second installment of the IBM University Programs interview series! This time, we’re catching up with Jacqui O’Brien, Global Leader of Consulting by Degrees, and two of the program participants.

We hope you find the interview as informative as we did! Enjoy and stay tuned for our next posts!

Jacqui O'Brien, Global Leader of Consulting by Degrees Program
Jacqui O’Brien, Global Leader of Consulting by Degrees Program

Please tell us about the Consulting by Degrees program

Consulting by Degrees is a two-year, global leadership and development program aimed at attracting top calibre entry-level hires and developing them into high performing consultants and future leaders. We provide you with the practical experience you need to grow your potential, along with the education and mentoring you need to accelerate your career. It’s a global program and we’re now in over 50 countries worldwide.

How are the projects selected for Consulting by Degrees?

Program participants have the opportunity to work on a variety of projects at a variety of clients throughout the program. Each person’s experience is unique, so there is not a prescribed set of assignments or types of experiences for the program. Your manager works with you to select opportunities that are a fit, with the typical participant having 4-6 roles during the two years of the program.

Who can apply? What are the criteria?

We are looking for graduates from all backgrounds and geographies to become full-time Consulting by Degrees consultants. In some countries, we also have internship opportunities.

Basic global requirements include:

  • Successful secondary school completion
  • In process of obtaining Bachelors, Graduate or Masters degree with strong academic record
  • Authorisation to work in your country of interest
  • Willingness and ability to travel to client locations
  • Additional, specific requirements dependent on location

For more information about opportunities in each region or to apply, please go to our website.

What happens during the program? How does the program conclude?

When you join Consulting by Degrees, you are joining a global community of participants in the program. There are many opportunities to interact with your fellow participants and IBMers during the program and beyond. You will participate in an education program including in person classes, online education, and on the job training and mentoring. You will also work towards the next step in your career throughout the program and have many opportunities to give back both within IBM and to your community through program activities. Each person’s experience is unique in the program, and by the end of the program you will have found a career path in one of our consulting areas.

What advice would you give to applicants?

Consulting is a fast-paced career that can be very rewarding and challenging. Learn as much as you can about the consulting role, both through research and by talking with consultants. As a consultant for much of my career, I found the most important skills to be flexibility and adaptability, as well as being eager to continuously learn. If you think consulting might be for you, apply to our IBM Global Business Services Consulting by Degrees program!


Meet two of our current participants, Daria Godunova from IBM US and Omar Khalid from IBM UAE and hear what they say about the program, their experiences and future aspirations.

Daria Godunova
Daria Godunova

Who: Daria Godunova
School: College of William & Mary
Why did you apply to IBM?

Daria: At the time, I had a lot of friends that worked at IBM, and I loved knowing that all of them had a different type of experience they could speak too. Most of all, it was the IBMers that I had met during the interview process – everyone was incredibly kind, friendly, intelligent, and fun, and I knew those were the sort of people I wanted to surround myself with.


Who: Omar Khalid
School: Northwestern University

Omar Khalid
Omar Khalid

Why did Consulting by Degrees program appeal to you?

Omar: One of the biggest concerns fresh graduates have is transitioning from an academic world that is focused on theory to the practical world. The structured learning offered by the CbD program helps bridge that gap, especially when it comes to soft skills such as giving effective presentations, working as part of multi-cultural teams, negotiation and decision-making skills, etc. This knowledge is really beneficial for new consultants getting on their first projects as it helps them in their interactions with their colleagues, the client as well as other vendors who may be working on the project.

Tell us about the projects you are involved in?

Daria: I am currently working as a Project Manager and Analyst in the Travel & Transportation sector, and industry that I have found a passion for since first starting at IBM. The majority of my work involves defining “Art of the Possible” Customer Experiences for IBM’s current and future clients, and working with IBM executives to match that future state with the various IBM solutions that we could offer to make that dream a reality.

Omar: I have been staffed on a long-term project (18 months at same client but different workstreams) which has allowed me to develop a very strong relationship with the client, including senior IT and Business leaders. My day starts at 7am when I leave for the office and ends at around 8pm when I reach home. Client hours are 9-5 during which I attend meetings and work on my project related tasks. Since the commute to the client site is 1.5 hours each way, I try to catch up on emails and do any (non-project) IBM work I may have.

What is the best lesson you learned at IBM?

Daria: I learned that at a global company such as IBM, no ceiling is too high if you work hard enough. I also learned that the most powerful tool a young consultant can have is his/her network, and that any IBMer, no matter how high up in the food chain, is always willing and open to listen, give advice, and help you achieve your goals.

Omar: The best lesson that I learned could be summed up by the phrase: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I was faced with a situation on my project where we had deadlines coming up but the resources supposed to help us meet those targets were delayed. Instead of panicking and giving up, we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in. Alongside putting in extra effort, we escalated to our management and asked for help. In the end, help arrived just in time and we were able to deliver as promised

What do you hope your professional life to look in five years?

Daria: In five years, I hope to start to become an expert in my chosen field, whether that will be Travel & Transportation, Customer Experience, or a mix of the above. So many great things have happened with my career since I joined IBM one short year ago, and I cannot wait to see what four more years at this global, innovative, and collaborative company will bring.

Omar: I hope to be a much more senior and experienced consultant in 5 years’ time, someone who has gained deeper industry expertise and can truly be the trusted advisor that IBM’s clients are looking for. By then I hope to have become a core member of my chosen service line (Strategy & Analytics) by contributing to business development as well as leading project delivery. I would also hope to be involved in the development of the next generation of CbDers, as my experienced colleagues were in my case.


To learn more about the Consulting by Degrees program, visit our website.
To explore what our graduate consultants have been getting up to, visit our blog.

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