Well, where do I even begin?
This year has been absolutely incredible and full of major highs and lows. Very much like any rollercoaster you would see in a theme park. It has really been an opportunity of a lifetime being able to do my placement here in IBM and I have really enjoyed myself seizing every opportunity there is available especially having the privilege to work and network with my European and American team, senior leadership, both internal and external clients and of course, all the interns that I have met during my time here.
The fact that IBM has never had a figure head like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to represent its brand image is just simply fascinating to me. Thus instead of having this one person to look up to, IBM is represented by its employees not surprisingly known as IBMers! I am so proud to be a dedicated IBMer and let’s be honest, how many people out there can call themselves an “IBMer”?
I enjoy working within Sales & Distribution (S&D) across MD&I (Market Development and Insights) in Europe because of what I do and the teams that I work with across Europe. My work mainly focuses on looking at competitors & economic changes and how these can be turned into IBM opportunities. Many tools and resources are used to determine this information, with analytical insights playing a large part. Simply put, I am responsible for hosting calls across Europe, researching into the financial aspects and management changes, project work around opportunities and gaps in the market, organising the IT Marketing Community events (3 a year) and looking after the Connections site & Newsletters.
On the fun side of things, I have also been involved in many off site activities centred around giving back to the community such as mock interview and assessment centres back at the University of Kent, Canterbury, IBM university placement, graduate & GBS experienced hires and at Feltham Community College.
There are so many highlights throughout my time here in IBM which I am absolutely proud of and happy to have accomplished in such a short span of time. Being a huge tennis fan, it was amazing to have been able to participate in the Wimbledon assessment centre at The All England Lawn Tennis Club! It was so surreal and I could not believe It myself that I was on the courts where the best tennis players stood! Unbelievable! Some of the many amazing places I got to visit in with my team and fellow IBMers also included a breakfast briefing at the Dorchester, a UK Ireland (UKI) hub meeting with spectacular, exquisite views of the city of London at the Gherkin and the IT Marketing Community event in IBM Hursley!
However, the shining spotlight has to be the MDI Europe Skills Summit at Sunningdale Park which I recently organised and participated in. It is an event that I am really proud to be a part of because I could not have thought of a better way to get together, develop our skills and to shape IBM’s future as part of the Think40 professional development initiative from Ginni Rometty, IBM’s Chairman, President and CEO.
This is a particular highlight to me because of how rare it is of an opportunity like this that comes around for me to meet and engage with all my European and American MD&I colleagues whom I work with on such a regular basis. This was the time for me to get to know them, learn and share. It was such a privileged position for me to be in and definitely one of MD&I’s many milestones to remember!
Till today, I still remember how scared, intimidated, uptight and worried I was because of how broad and diverse my job role is and the number of instances I receive requests on short notice. Through this, I learnt how crucial it is to always understand what my team member(s) expect(s) of me and the urgency of when it is needed. This has enabled me to develop a faster course of action as I plan and organise my workload accordingly
Working across MD&I Europe, I have particularly excelled incultural differentiation and it has taught me how to become more flexible with this mix of different teams across Europe and cope with the constantly changing demands, expectations and criteria.
The biggest challenge for me up till this day is still being able to master business communication because of how much more of a concise and structured format it has in comparison to normal communication. I have learnt how to become a more effective communicator by understanding a clear structure and form of communication which has enabled me to improve the fluidity of communicating my messages across in a clear and concise way, adapting the best and most suitable approach keeping in mind different people having different styles of communication. This was the most valuable skill I have learnt and picked up throughout my time here in IBM.
My advice for you: Firstly, if you are lucky enough to do your placement in London, enjoy yourself as there is always something different to do here! Make sure that you put yourself out there as much as you can and get yourself noticed and known. You are only going to be working at the company for a year which is why you need to make sure you make a good, memorable, lasting impression among all your colleagues in the company. I cannot stress how important it is to network and all the connections you make which will prove to be very useful in your future career. Do not hesitate to ask a question if you do not understand something even if you think it is a small matter or is something silly. Everyone is here to help you and they want nothing more for you than to succeed.
From the first day, keep an open mind, learn and absorb like a sponge and always seek feedback on your work and performance so that you can learn what your strengths are and improve on your weaknesses. Also, do take criticisms with a pinch of salt and grow and nurture from there instead of taking them personally. It is not personal, remember that. Throughout your placement, you will be asked to take part in many simultaneous tasks and projects and I am sure you will have your hands full, you will not know where to start. Here, learn how to say no as the quality of every piece of work that you do is very important and people will be impressed by this rather than submitting work which is of mediocre quality.
And lastly, smile, be happy and enjoy every minute of it because guess what, you only live once and you have got to make the most out of it!