In this edition of the IBM MEA women leadership series blogs, we interviewed Fariha Tariq, Executive Program Manager, USA Program and IBM Accredited Advisory Project Manager, currently working out of Pakistan with IBM Global Business Services to get a scoop into what has been her experience working at IBM and why she chose IBM. Read on to discover the exciting opportunities for career growth that exist for Women at IBM.
What has been your IBM career journey?
I started at IBM Pakistan as a Management Consultant back in 2006, equipped with strong skills in Datawarehousing, EDW and Architecture and extensive experience working on complex IT projects gained in North America. As I continued further with my IBM journey into senior roles, I started to work diligently on refining my leadership skills. During this tenure, the most important attributes I focused on were;
- Listen to what people have to say
- Develop emotional intelligence to understand and build high performing teams
- Enhance communication skills at interpersonal and professional level
- Try hard to think out of the box in difficult situations.
This provided a strong baseline to create a climate of trust for my employees, peers and senior executives. It also helped a lot in developing strategic thinking (anticipating the long-term impact of today’s decisions) as well as operational thinking (result oriented with calculated risks).
I strongly believe that in my current role as an Executive Program Manager for the USA Program (consisting of 100 resources) as well as in my past role as a Service Line lead (Business Analytics & Optimization), the blend of technical expertise and leadership skills provides sufficient maturity and awareness to deal with the challenging situations, which I often come across. This in turn gives confidence to influence diverse, cross-functional teams to achieve business objectives and meet critical deadlines in fast-paced environments such as IBM.
Why does your work matter & how do you make an impact in your role?
Work matters because it creates a variety of impact in different roles.In my opinion, work has to first make an impact on us so that we are motivated to perform as expected by the business.
Recognition of impact is in two forms: Personal and Professional Satisfaction.
- Personal satisfaction is a direct derivative of maintaining a “Work – Life” balance.
- In turn, professional satisfaction comes partly from the personal satisfaction.
I strongly believe that in my role, I impact myself, all my professional colleagues and my family. The extent to which I ‘m meeting or exceeding the metrics defined for my professional as well as personal life defines the degree of impact.
What makes a career in consulting interesting and fulfilling?
For me, embracing challenges has significantly influenced and contributed to a fulfilling consulting career. Every day, we come across a new situation / scenario where we are compelled to be innovative using “Out of Box” thinking. This has often led to the discovery of our hidden potential which we are not usually aware of.
Moreover, this “Wild Duck” approach always leads to “smarter solutions” which is very helpful in envisioning the future and satisfying the Clients.
How has being at IBM helped you grow professionally and personally?
When I look back at myself 10 years ago, I recall a young woman eager and excited to join a strong platform that would give enough confidence and thrust to excel in her career with the personal dimension also satisfied.
Today I reflect on my 10+ years career with IBM and working in a leadership role is a clear evidence of what I wished for has been fulfilled. Especially in a country where very few women are working in the IT industry. This has been possible primarily due to the support of IBM’s senior executive management providing relevant growth opportunities from time to time.
In parallel, being exposed to very seasoned and groomed professionals on various IBM social networks (internal w3 connections, IBM Worldwide knowledge sharing sessions of on the Cloud, Analytics series, Pechakucha etc). Moreover, IBM’s virtual and onsite relevant trainings along with its special development programs (such a Women Leadership Development program, other educational programs) facilitated to refine the maturity and vision required in different roles and stages of my life. This has indirectly satisfied my personal need by being able to manage “Work-Life Balance” successfully so far.
Tell me about the people you work with and the environment you work in
My environment provides a gateway into a global network of talented, self-driven and inquisitive individuals, working together in an environment where creativity and individuality are deeply valued and cultivated. Our Purpose is to be essential and IBMers feel like it is a place where ideas can change the World.
Teamwork and cross-team collaboration is another essential part of our environment and provide valuable learning experiences. Hence our environment is a clear depiction of “Life is a fantastic journey” and offers great opportunities for those who want to keep growing.
Our Leaders play a very supportive, encouraging, and motivating role in an employee’s career and growth.
In short, we can define IBMers as a group of hard working intellectuals who often come across difficult situations at various points in time but with their confidence and enthusiasm coupled with the management support, they always overcome it.
What would be your one piece of career advice for aspiring consulting/STEM Professionals?
Explore roles, companies, projects in the beginning with complete ownership of every single small task assigned to you. That is what consulting means. Never put limitations on yourself by imposing self-created assumptions with no solid baseline. “We often end up in what we have never thought of”.
I work where we never wait for good things to happen. We make them happen. A place where we are Engaged, Challenged and Satisfied!
Take some time to read other inspiring stories from women working at IBM Middle East and Africa here.
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