Natacha Monpellier – An Inspirational Executive on Staying Relevant

On this issue of The Inspirational Executive Series, we are featuring Natacha Monpellier, an Executive Partner in IBM Switzerland. In this interview, she shares a bit about herself, her current role, along with some meaningful career and personal experiences she has had, and career advice for aspiring leaders.

The Inspirational Executive series consists of interviews with our executive IBMers to demonstrate how you can 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.

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Natacha Monpellier is an Executive Partner in the Global Business Services unit of IBM Switzerland. In this role, she helps Consumer Products companies to digitally transform their commercial organizations and to create new consumer experiences. She considers herself as a goal-oriented professional with a positive mindset and energy, who always puts the client first.

Can you describe your role at IBM?

As Client Partner for a leading consumer products company, I lead our services activities in the digital front office, advanced analytics, and cognitive space, which spans both business development and project delivery. In this role I have a daily opportunity to live and breathe the Client Ethos and the IBM Way. Putting the client first is key – understanding my client’s challenges, and inspiring them with relevant industry and domain expertise and cases.

Everyday feels very different. Not much routine other than my 20-minute walk in the morning, enjoying the view on Lake Geneva, to get to the client site, where I have a dedicated desk. I find that spending time at the client site helps build relationships with stakeholders at all levels and embed myself in their organization.

What skills and experiences have you developed over your career that lead you to this position?

I started my consulting career 20 years ago when I joined Coopers and Lybrand in January 1998. The first couple of years of my career were about shaping strong business consulting skills and deep process knowledge for Sales and Marketing. Then I gradually built industry eminence in the Consumer Products and Retail industries.

2011 was a key milestone in my career, when IBM launched the Smarter Commerce Strategy and the Smarter Commerce Center of Competency (CoC). I was the first GBS consultant to join the CoC as I had the relevant domain and industry expertise to engage in consultative selling discussions with Chief Marketing Officers and other new buyers. I evolved from a delivery role into an account management role, increasing my span of action from marketing to digital consumer engagement, analytics and cognitive. I love to have a client-facing role. It is both very challenging and very rewarding and requires a continuous re-invention to remain relevant and create added value.

Apart from the work you do in your role, what other things you do in IBM that you enjoy?

On the people side, I have been approached by a number of younger business consultants who have asked me to be their mentor. This is really cool.

I need to keep relevant from an industry perspective. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to contribute to the latest study about GenZ by the IBM Institute for Business Value. It was a really interesting experience to understand the research, approach and methodology that underpin such studies.

Outside of IBM, what are your hobbies, interests, and passions?

I enjoy spending time with my husband and 13-year-old son. As we recently moved to Switzerland, I try to organize short sightseeing trips to discover the country during the weekend. We travel by train (as we have no car here) and enjoy it very much!

We bought bikes during the summer and did a few tours to discover the neighboring area. For those of you who don’t know Lausanne, I’m telling you: it is very hilly. And 40 years of training in the flattest country in the world (Belgium) is not particularly useful!

In September, I decided to take tap dancing lessons. I have been wanting to do that for a very long time and when I saw an ad for a trial on internet, I did not hesitate one second. This is so much fun. It is embedded in my weekly calendar now!

How do you manage your work life balance? 

So, I have my one-hour tap dancing lesson every Tuesday evening, which I attend every single week if I’m not traveling. This is a nice little break in the week. I have a 20-minute commute walking time which I use to organize my day in the morning, and to transition from work to family on the way back. I disconnect from emails to spend quality time with my family during week-ends and holidays abroad.

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

  1. Make your aspirations visible.  I found out that people are very supportive once they know you want to grow in your career
  2. Find a sponsor.  Look for someone who will help you as a mentor, and help expand your internal and external network.
  3. Adopt a growth mindset and a continuous learning attitude. This is the best way to stay relevant in the market place.

I wish you all a great start in 2018.

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