Succeeding the Stage at IBM!

By Susan Benysh

Susan BenyshI am an IBMer! And have been for over 18 years. Since I graduated with a Ph.D. in Engineering and started with IBM in 1997, I came into a very supportive environment. Support is not only on-site at my job location, but also virtual from all of my colleagues that I work with every day. Whether I am able to work from home or from the office on a given day, I know there is a structure in place to help in my career and work-life balance.

At IBM, I am part of a volunteer group of like-minded women who participate in a program called Succeeding the Stage.

The program focuses on giving women the insight into the “unwritten rules” that govern the corporate culture. This doesn’t just apply to women working at IBM, but could apply anywhere….I can’t give away all the secrets but here are some of the top tips that I have taken away from this program and that anyone else could pick up and apply to their work situation.

Learn how to Communicate Up

When presenting to senior management, you need to be succinct yet also get your idea across. So try giving your story in three’s. What I mean by this is to choose three main points that you want to get across, say, about your career goals. 1. I want to become an Executive, 2. I want to go on an international assignment sometime in my career, and 3. I want to have experience in at least four different areas of Corporate Headquarters. With these points as your framework, you can build your management reviews, wrap your mentor discussions, and have direction for each step in your career.

Create a Career Mindset

Don’t just go through each day as if it were a job, go through each meeting knowing it will help your career. Knowing you will aid your career and that you are working towards something greater than your paycheck helps to elevate your game and gets you to the next level.

Develop Political Savvy & Expanding your Network (they go hand-in-hand)

So, this will be different for each company and depends upon those around you. That is why it so important to understand the environment. To do so, you need to get several viewpoints. Think about expanding your network as much as you can. When you have an Expanded Network, these people help you understand the landscape so you can manage your career and communicate so much better.

Gender Realities

Let’s face it, if you are a woman in the work world, you may have a tendency of working one way and you may be perceived of working another way. Understanding others perceptions of you, though they be true or not, will help you understand the landscape and take charge of your personal branding.

In closing, when working in the corporate culture there are many unwritten rules that you need to understand. You need to understand and figure an approach for the five mentioned above, 1. Learning how to communicate up, 2. Creating a career mindset, 3. Developing political savvy, 4. Expanding your network, and 5. Understanding gender realities. There are other unwritten rules I am sure you will come across in your career, and one of the biggest rules out there is for you to pass on your knowledge to others just like I am doing in this blog. I hope to see you at IBM!


To learn more about some of the women making a difference at IBM right now, take a look here.

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What will you make with IBM?

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