What is in it for me?

by Viji Srinivasaraghavan

In my 21 years as an IT professional, I have worked for varied IT organizations ranging from greenhorn start-ups to established behemoths. Each had something new to offer.  But when I look back at my journey with IBM (it is now 10 years), I realize how strong my bonding has grown with this organization thanks to the diverse experience & opportunities I was able to explore – all under one roof.  IBM has given me the sense of accomplishment for ‘Who I am’ and has provided me with the realization of ‘What is in it for me ‘.

I embarked on this eventful journey when I joined IBM in 2005 as a Program Manager and over the period graduated to handling large scale integration projects. Techno-management was one of the skills that I was always passionate about  – I was keen to  take up roles involving varied technologies and to stay connected with my core domain of interest  viz. manufacturing.  Willingness to take risks, treading uncharted territories and constant upskilling helped me navigate the growth path and I finally managed to achieve my ambition of landing a client -facing role that amply  leveraged my technical skills. Needless to say, IBM’s supportive ecosystem played a key role in this journey.

Viji (on right) during her Corporate Service Corps' assignment in Malaysia.
Viji (on right) during her Corporate Service Corps’ assignment in Malaysia.

The other day, someone popped an interesting question to me “What has the 100-year old IBM given to a 10-year IBMer (me) to make her stick to it? At that,  my decade long life in IBM flashed in front of my eyes:

My  transition from being  project manager in Bangalore to my 4-year stay in the US as an onsite delivery project executive. my ‘aha’ moment when I was amongst the select few  to get into IBM’s Corporate Service Corps project in  Kuching , Malaysia for a month; the freedom to ideate and innovate that each of these roles and opportunity gave me; the feeling of being respected and empowered not for who you are but for what you do and how well you do it…

….and then  I realized what IBM has given me is nothing short of  a – GIFT.

GIFTHere’s how the GIFT unwrapped for me:

GROWTH:  IBM offered me immense growth path through various programs technical and non-technical programs. This encouraged and motivated me to take up additional responsibility and challenges. IBM CSC opportunity gave me venues to apply my experience, knowledge and practices in all length and breadth to address the client needs without any inhibition. I had the opportunity to mentor diversity practitioners and share my professional learning and experiences,

INSPIRATION:  I have personally derived inspiration from the passion, dedication and transparency in communication shown by IBM leaders.  Cherry Foster (now retired from IBM) has been my Mentor, who stood by me and guided through my difficult times. I always felt that, I’ve a shoulder to lean on.

FLEXIBILITY: Most of the women in IBM derive inspiration from our CEO, Ginni Rometty. One of her quote which is very close to my heart and I truly believe is “Don’t let others define you, You define yourself”.  This clearly gives you the sense of empowerment to be flexible in executing what you believe in. IBM offered me the sense of empowerment and growth without compromising at work or home front.  This is due to the employee friendly policies IBM has got to offer.

TRANSFORMATION: I have worked in various functions within IBM, like delivery, quality, corporate service corps and enablement. These job roles gave me new perspective of handling work and transforming me as a better human being.

….and with a GIFT like that, I believe IBM is THE place for any aspiring woman professional to be in.

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About the Author

VIJIVaijayanthi (Viji) is the Delivery project Executive for one of the large electronic client account in IBM’s Global Business Services, Bangalore. A gold medalist in Electrical Engineering, she has attended executive programs from eCornell and IBM Leadership Development Centre at Armonk. She is also an active player in various IBM Diversity Initiatives .Viji is a member of PMI, BSPIN and MMA. She has authored academic papers on crowdsourcing, women in leadership and above all,  is a proud mother of a 10th grader son.

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