My 30th Year in IBM: Why I’m Excited Now More Than Ever

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to build a global career at IBM? In this blog, featuring Anita, Vice President for IBM Cognitive Process Services, she tells us how she is as excited as ever in her 30th year at IBM. She also tells us about her diverse experiences at IBM, why and how she started as a recent grad, and how she feels now as  a global business leader.

By Anita Karlsson-Dion

anitaNever in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned the personal and professional growth I would have with IBM, when I walked through the doors as a new grad at IBM Stockholm, Sweden office in December 1988 – yes almost 30 years ago! I’ve changed careers, I’ve changed countries (twice), I’ve managed groups as small as 7 and as large as 20,000, and I have met and worked with IBM’ers from all around the world!

There were three reasons why I decided to accept the job offer from IBM: 1) I knew I wanted to work in an international company, as different cultures and languages had always intrigued me; 2) In what I could read about IBM at the time, IBM stood out to other companies in their values. I remember specifically ‘respect for each individual’, which resonated with me; and 3) The leaders I met in my interviews were amazing –genuine, authentic and very excited about being an IBM’er.

I joined into the Supply Chain organization, responsible for transforming our invoicing process, and I designed (with some help) the look of our new – easier to understand – invoice. After two years I moved to IBM Finance, and did various controller type roles for the next 21 years. I was Controller for IBM Sweden, managing my first group of 7 employees, I got my first manager role at the age of 28, a year after our daughter was born. When our children were 4 and 1, we moved to the European Headquarters (EHQ) in Paris, France, where my husband took time out to be home and take care of our children. Two years later we packed our belongings and move to New York, for another great role:  Executive Assistant to IBM Controller at the time – Mark Loughridge (who later became our CFO) in the Corporate Headquarters in Armonk. Between 2001 and 2009 I had various controller roles within IBM across our software, hardware and services businesses. In 2009 I became the CFO of our Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) unit, a $3B business at the time, and in 2011 I changed my career path, moved out of Finance into a client facing delivery role.

I clearly went outside my comfort zone when I accepted the role as Delivery leader for all our delivery teams in our BPO business for Finance and Procurement clients. But, oh did I end up loving that role! After three years I was promoted to take on all of delivery, which included HR and Mortgage processing, with a total team of 20,000 IBM’ers around the world.

Today, I’m in my 30th year with IBM, and I’m probably more excited now than ever to be part of this great corporation. I’m just back from hosting clients at our largest event ever – Think 2018 – where we brought our clients and business partners to showcase our capabilities in Cognitive, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Cloud and much more.

LinkedIn Top Companies USIn our CEO and Chairman’s key note, Ginni Rometty mentioned that IBM has been awarded the 2018 Catalyst Award for advancing women and diversity in business. We are the only technology company honored this year — and the only company anywhere recognized for a fourth time. In addition, we are among the 2018 LinkedIn Top Companies where professionals most want to work across the U.S.

I’m so proud of being an IBMer!

Anita Karlsson-Dion is the Vice President for IBM Cognitive Process Services.

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