Goodbye to IBM


As I have said my goodbyes at IBM over the last few days, it seems every person I have talked to is at a turning point in their careers. Turns out there is no age at which this happens specifically, which shouldn’t have surprised me. I don’t know about you, but I landed in marketing purely by chance.

I was looking for something other than administrative assistant and was given an opportunity to do a combined admin and marketing ops role. At the time, IBM was bringing people in to marketing from all over. You didn’t need qualifications, as surprising as that may seem today.

I took advantage of IBM’s education programs in Europe to get Certified by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and then passed the Post Graduate Diploma. That was awesome – free Masters level education. I worked and learned and studied and damned if I didn’t become an experienced marketer! (PS. If there are any CIMers out there who have gone through an equivalency process to validate Bachelors or Masters level, please reach out to me!)

It wasn’t what I expected to do with my life. I was going to be a teacher, or a poet. Back when. 20 some odd years later, I am ready to turn the page. Marketing and IBM have been really good to me. I had a lot of fun over the years. I met amazing people all over the world. I had a fantastic career story – from bi-lingual secretary to Director of Marketing!

When the time came for me to decide on co-location or leaving IBM, I still thought going was the right thing. I was excited by the new job I had in Channels. I felt like I still had things to accomplish. And frankly, I was happy to have the executive salary! But my family is here in Florida. I am a grandma of a three year old. Truth be told, nothing has brought me as much pure joy as that baby boy. And so…..

Here I am, not quite 50, not quite out of debt, empty nester of a not so really empty nest. I knew I didn’t want to keep working in the high stress of IT marketing. I’ve had an amazing 23 years but did I mention the stress? I wasn’t even sure I cared whether I did a marketing job. So, I peeled the onion of the things that have brought me professional joy and satisfaction.

And that would be (except for the Mainframe50) the time I spent driving transformation and teaching others. I did a lot of it over the years because IBM transforms on a 12-18 month cycle. There is always something disrupting the status quo of how IBM works. I was always working on rolling out those projects – either at a country level, a geographical level in Europe and NA, or a Global level.

Whether you are talking about building a new org chart, a communications plan or the actual content being rolled out, delivering training face to face or remotely or coaching people through transformation on a daily basis, I have worked in the exciting and troubling context of transformation my whole career. And I love it! I love helping roll out a transformation project. Darned if I can actually figure out a good title for that job though!

I’m still not entirely sure what the next steps look like for me. I know I want to learn more about coaching, so I’ll be embarking on a 100 hour training program for coaching in January to continue improving my skills. But I also want to find a way to continue leading change in some way or other. The only thing I am sure of is that exciting things are ahead of me.

The brave new world is exhilarating and terrifying all at once. Kind of like that bungee jump I did in my thirties. But after all, I don’t think I’ll say goodbye. I think I will stay connected with the amazing people I have had the privilege to work with. I’ll be following you and watching your careers with awe, but not with envy. Just you follow me and see!

My brain whirls and twirls, but right now, I am my own little transformation project. So don’t worry, I love this part!