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.
Amelia Basson is a Lead Delivery Partner for IBM Global Business Services in the UK. In this interview, she discusses how her career has grown over the past 30 years, how she manages her work-life balance, and what advice she could give to other women aspiring to an executive career.
Amelia is an Executive Partner at IBM and has been leading the Testing Delivery for the Nationwide Building Society account, a large Financial Services Sector account in the UK.
She joined IBM in 1996 and has now three decades of experience in the IT industry, having spent the early part of her career in programming and application services.
Amelia has a BCom degree from the University of Pretoria and an MBA from Open University in the UK.
She was appointed as a partner in 2010 in South Africa and transferred to the UK in 2011.
Amelia moved into project management very early in her career and has shown success in getting teams to deliver to customer expectation. Amelia is recognized for her ability to motivate teams under difficult circumstances and keep them focused to achieve the end results.
Amelia has one son who lives in South Africa and she enjoys cycling as a hobby.
How would you describe your role at IBM?
I am responsible for leading a large team in IBM that delivers most of the Testing Services for Nationwide Building Society, a UK-based financial institution. We test applications that get developed by various suppliers including Accenture and IBM. I need to ensure that the client is delighted with our service as well as to ensure that IBM is making a profit and our people are skilled and motivated to delivering success. This requires a fine balance as the team of 750 are based across the UK and over four locations in India.
What personal attributes do you believe have contributed towards your success?
I always want to do the right thing for the client and for IBM. I often have to decide between certain competing priorities and most of the time, I do make the correct decision. I am passionate to be successful and take my teams with me by being available, leading and showing them how to do the right things. Recently one of my staff told me that I have given them my unconditional support.
Can you share your experiences when working on international assignment from your native country?
I am back in the UK due to my experience as an assignee in 2001 and 2006. I really enjoyed the challenge of moving to a new country, making new friends and learning new skills in the UK. These opportunities are not as accessible as a couple of year ago, but would advise anyone to take this up if you are given the opportunity.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
I believe I am better at it today than 20 years ago, but I do think technology allows us to be better now – i.e. I even have a smart watch now. You need to make time for your family either just on a daily basis of even more when they need you. I do set myself some personal goals and then I do stick to them. I believe it is about being organised. I never used to take time off to see my son’s school plays, or attend school meetings during office hours and I do regret that today. Luckily my son turned out a very well balanced man and he learned from my mistakes.
Do you have any recommendations for employees aspiring to an executive career?
You need to see the wood from the trees and have tenacity. The road will always be full off bumps. It is how you handle the bumps, how personal you want or have to make them and see beyond the bumps. Keep your eye on the end target but ensure you get there in the best possible way for the client and for IBM.
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