As you may remember, last fall I attended the Girls Who Can relaunch event at IBM Southbank. It was a fantastic networking opportunity and focused on inspiring young IBM-ers to network and make the most of their career opportunities. On the 20th May GWC ran another event ‘Raising the Roof’ which was both insightful and fun to attend! Raising the Roof was endorsed by the UK Graduate Manager who also opened the event.
The event was kicked off by an IBM Master Inventor, who explained to the group about some of the amazing projects he’d worked on recently. Amongst these were a number of Internet of Things (IoS) projects and ones focused on renewable energy. Particularly interesting I found was a project focused around helping vulnerable people (the elderly and disabled) with their day to day lives. The monitoring capabilities of IoS allowed people to be supported whilst still feeling independent. Projects like this make me proud to be part of IBM, looking at how we can use new technology to help improve people’s quality of life!
Next we had a very interesting debate on Equality and whether we believed it had been achieved within IBM. The majority of the room believed that IBM had almost achieved equality, and yet we were informed just how few women old CEO positions across the globe. This raised a lot of questions as to why this was and how could we, the next generation of IBMers help resolve it.
We were informed that a key reason for this is that when it comes to applying for a job, women feel they need to fit the majority of the listed criteria for a position whereas generally speaking a man will feel he need only fulfil a couple of them. This is something almost ingrained into society and something we as women must learn to counter as we are causing ourselves to miss out!
We also discussed such in the news topics as dress codes (is it legal to force women to wear heels to work – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36265545) and gender discrimination in the workplace- something relatively few IBMers in the room had experienced, a good sign for the company!
The next section of the afternoon was a series of roundtables with execs from different areas of IBM. These roundtables were a brilliant opportunity to hear about successful women’s careers within and outside of IBM and to gain their insights as to how to personally be a success. There was a general focus on the importance of taking risks, and not simply staying comfortable but embracing the chance to move around the company and look for new opportunities. Another key focus was on networking and how important it is to personally reach out to people and be reactive in the work place.
I think my favourite piece of advice however, came from a global marketing leader who said to
‘Be visibly fabulous!‘
This is a very important piece of advice as it isn’t enough to quietly do your job well, you must always be seen to be doing it! As an IBM-er it’s so important to reach outside your comfort zone and get involved with as many things as possible. We should aim to celebrate the individual and make use of the experience of those around us.
The event was then wrapped up with a talk from three Foundation Alumni who shared with us their careers thus far and the difference between being a grad and being a general employee. This was very useful for all of us attendees, the majority of whom were on graduate schemes and working out where we wanted to go next with our careers.
I left the event feeling inspired and really thinking about where I wanted to take my career at IBM. Girls Who Can is such an important team at IBM and one I’ve since applied to join! Thanks for another great event!
~Ruth, Technical Consultant @IBM