The Inspirational Executive series consists of interviews that profile executive IBMers 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 to succeed in every aspect of their careers.
Today we are featuring Helen Kelisky, Vice President for IBM Cloud in the UK & Ireland (UK&I) region. This interview discusses how Helen’s career has grown over the past 20 years, how she manages her work-life balance, and what advice she could give to other women aspiring to an executive career.
Helen Kelisky is the Vice President of IBM’s Cloud Business in the UK and Ireland. She leads an organisation shaping and implementing IBM’s Cloud Strategy across all IBM’s lines of business to support the Cloud ambitions of our customers and to capitalise on market opportunity.
Helen is part of IBM UKI’s leadership team and has over 20 years’ experience in the IT Industry. In addition, Helen is a board member of Women in Telecommunications and Technology.
Can you describe your role at IBM?
I lead the Cloud Business Unit for IBM UK and Ireland.
As the lead for the Cloud Business Unit for IBM UK and Ireland, my role is to establish IBM as the go-to company in all things Cloud – Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud – across our Cloud Services and Software portfolio.
I am also the public face of Cloud for IBM to the UK and Ireland market. Marketing and marketing communications is an important part of the business as we establish our credentials and differentiation in the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS markets.
What skills and experience have you developed over your career that led you to this position?
The ability to drive strong, engaged, cohesive teams has been critical. Also, the ability and desire to form strong client relationships has been important. Resilience, the ability to prioritise, and the drive to keep learning are three fundamental skills that would help one go far in their career.
Outside of IBM, what are your hobbies, interests, and passions?
I try to switch off from IBM on the weekends and spend time with family and friends, although not always possible for the entire weekend! I do, however, like reading business and fictional articles and books, and increasing my general knowledge. Also, I really enjoy swimming. It’s a great physical exercise and meditative too, and it’s a complete switch off from the digital world.
How do you manage your work life balance?
I always have a plan for my day, start the day early with exercise, live my day by my calendar if possible, be disciplined with time, and try to get home for dinner unless I’m meeting clients.
Of course, on occasion the plan has to change but there’s still a plan, it just becomes the new plan.
What tips can you give employees aspiring to an executive career??
- Be ambitious. Volunteer to take on new things.
- Get out of your comfort zone. — Try and do something you find uncomfortable each day.
- Don’t try to fly under the radar…or you’ll get forgotten.
- Build your network.
- Show interest in what your company does.
- Tell your manager and your manager’s manager what you want to achieve — your manager isn’t a mind reader!
- Find a mentor a couple of levels above you, whose opinion, or what they’ve achieved, you respect.
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