By Jeremy O’Mard
At IBM, we value workplace diversity. In this light, we recently spoke with IBM Global Business Services’ Jeremy O’Mard, a Senior Consultant in our Application Development and Innovation (AD&I) practice, about diversity at IBM.
What kind of message would you give to an African-American person considering submitting an application to IBM?
Go for it! While working at IBM, I’ve never been treated differently because of my race. At the end of the day, your work ethic speaks louder than anything else. IBM also has an active group of African American Professionals known as the Black Constituency Network (BCN). BCN helps to promote diversity within IBM, assists with career development and networking, and provides a community and platform where African American professionals can voice their opinions on issues affecting the black community in corporate America.
What sort of challenges did you face at IBM?
Working at IBM presents many of the same challenges that you’ll find at any well-respected Fortune 500 company. Three challenges that immediately come to my mind are:
1) You’re brand new to such a huge organization and don’t know who to talk to or where to start,
2) The fact that you work for an international organization and your peers may be spread across different geographical locations and
3) Your first-line manager may not be located on the same project as you.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Over the years, I’ve learned that the keys to facing the three aforementioned challenges are to:
1) Network: Establish meaningful relationships with those with similar skill sets and interest as you. During your first week of orientation, you’ll be assigned to an on-boarding group and will be provided with the email addresses of everyone in your class; this helps to set the foundation of your professional network.
2) Find a communication channel that works for you: Because you may potentially work on a project where your entire team or several key members are working from remote locations, you need to find the communication channel that works best for you, whether it’s utilizing instant messaging, email, or your handy-dandy phone. Communication is key.
3) Establish a rapport with your manager: Your first-line manager is the one who goes to bat for you and has a huge impact on your professional growth. While some practitioners have the benefit of being on the same project as their first-line manager (not to be confused with your project manager), many do not. It’s important to regularly communicate with your manager and address any of your professional concerns with him/her sooner rather than later.
How do you feel about the staff and employees around you?
When you think of a company as old as IBM, many would assume that it has a rigid culture, and that everyone wears a blue suit; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Over my tenure, I’ve met some amazing people from all walks of life and have been able to learn something new from them. The majority of the staff and employees are friendly, outgoing, and willing to help you grow as a professional.
What attracted you to apply for a position at IBM?
One of the benefits that attracted me to IBM was the fact that it has such a huge knowledge repository. I’ve always been the type of person who likes to try new things and continue to enhance my skill set, and IBM provided me with an outlet to do so. In many instances, your Business Area will also allow you to receive external training on topics that help to advance your career as well as the business.
Jeremy is a Senior Consultant with IBM Global Business Services in the United States.
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