By Harika Basana
Asia Pacific Sales Leader Harika Basana shares how the flexibility to experience and work on different strategic roles in IBM has led to a rewarding and dynamic career for her.
I have just transitioned to a new role where I am part of an integrated account team that manages a large regional financial services client. As a client executive, I will drive the account strategy, collaborate with cross brand teams and worldwide subject matter experts to provide innovative solutions to the client.
Previously, I was the Cloud Business Development Leader for Asia Pacific, and was responsible for driving IBM Cloud penetration into the region’s top enterprise clients. This meant creating value for clients by running cross brand cloud transformation workshops with global experts, leading partnership discussions, and driving management systems for the business.
I joined IBM under the General Manager Leadership Development Program upon completing my MBA at Harvard Business School. This rotational leadership program provided me the opportunity to work with stellar leaders and teams across businesses and geographies. I was initially part of the IBM ASEAN Global Business Services team, and worked as a consultant on projects for banking, transportation, electronics and shipping clients. Shortly after, I was sent on a sales assignment to Australia to be the client manager for the largest IBM account. Apart from working with terrific colleagues and amazing clients in Sydney, a standout experience was winning my very first $1+ million sale.
A career in IBM takes you places because you have the flexibility to change roles or at least, the geographical coverage of your roles in less than three years. There is always a new challenge if you are up for it. The chances of you working with people with extremely diverse skill sets, cultures, backgrounds and geographies are very high.
In IBM, anyone can reach out to a senior leader for an informational conversation. It is called an ‘Executive Interview’, and is part of the Big Blue culture where our leaders will always give advice or connect you to the right people if you approach them. Personally, I have always had access to great mentors at IBM. These mentors have provided candid advice, pushed me and helped me to navigate my career.
My advice is that every role can either make you shine or let you down. Hence, when you are considering career or role changes, be sure to choose something that will play to your strengths and provide you with an opportunity to skill-up in no more than two specific ‘areas for improvement’. While this varies from role-to-role and profile-to-profile, the easiest way is to keep your functional role similar, but take on a region or a vertical industry or segment that you have no experience in.
Harika Basana is Asia Pacific Sales Leader for IBM. You can find her on Linkedin
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