Annika Grosse – An Inspirational Executive speaks about her Career Path and Work-Life Balance at IBM

Inspirational Executives Series – IBM Europe

Annika Grosse – An Inspirational Executive: Executive Partner & Watson Consulting Leader Europe – Global Business Services. Hamburg, Germany.

Annika Grosse - Photo


Annika is Executive Partner & Watson Consulting Leader for Global Business Services in Europe.

Annika’s career trajectory has been genuinely inspiring. In 1997 she joined IBM as IT Strategy & Management Consultant, in 2011 she became Executive Partner and in 2014 Annika became European Watson Leader.

This interview discusses how Annika’s career has grown over the past nineteen years, how she manages her work-life balance, and what advise she would give to others aspiring to an executive career at IBM.


Can you describe your current role at IBM please?

As a Watson Consulting Leader in Europe, I focus on building up the consulting business around Watson technologies in Europe across all sectors and countries.  This includes selling, developing industry specific value propositions and developing methodologies (e.g. design thinking) for our clients.  I also work on building up skill and delivery structures to ensure that Watson is delivered consistently across Europe.

My role requires a lot of interlock and networking with sector leads, Watson Group, Cognitive Solutions Team and other lines of business on opportunities and technologies.

Additionally, I work closely with marketing and communications to educate the public on the new Watson technologies (e.g. provide interviews, participate in conferences, and provide collateral for the public).  New talent is important and I work on attracting new talent by developing wider networks.

 What are the most rewarding aspects of your role?

This is one of the most rewarding job roles I’ve ever had!  It’s because I’m working as if I am in a start-up, growing innovation in my team and moving with a lot of speed.  Looking back, we have achieved many things in the short time frame and grew a lot of talent fast, which makes me very happy as this is the greatest reward with clients.  Now, the first client use cases are becoming real, after implementation they are now creating value.  It’s great to be proud of what we have achieved with new technology.

My role is truly across all sectors and Europe, which I definitely find rewarding.

 You’ve been with IBM since 1997. What has the company done so well to keep you for the nineteen years?

IBM has given me many career opportunities and I am able to try out a lot of different roles along the way. I worked in a range of roles from consulting, international roles and sales roles. In addition to these career opportunities, IBM has always offered opportunities for personal development. This is something I value very highly.   IBM has supported me with two additional university degrees, helping continuously to invest in my academic development.

One key factor that fascinates me about IBM is to work for a company that drives innovation, that constantly looks into the future and that takes part in shaping it! That makes work much more exciting!

How do you manage your work life balance?

I manage the balance well because I have strong support network at home, to include my husband, my parents, my friends and my childminder.  I’m really happy with my job, and the 2 things that I really like are being a mother and working in my current job role.  I find a good way to integrate both.

I have the flexibility to have a childminder program around my daughter, and my daughter sees me as a ‘happy mum’ most of the time!

For me this was never an ‘either/or’, it was always clear that I could have both.  If you really want something you can get there, and be a happy working mum!

Do you have any recommendations for employees aspiring to an executive career at IBM?

My recommendation is to push for it, do not wait for an invitation and don’t be shy!

The Inspirational Executive series consists of interviews that profile executive IBM’ers across Europe to demonstrate how one may successfully build an executive career in this increasingly demanding market.

Juggling work, life, and family commitments is a daunting challenge, but this series reveals how, with careful time management, flexible leadership, and a willingness to embrace challenge, IBM can support successful executives throughout Europe to succeed in every aspect of their careers.

Check out previous editions of this series here.

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