Women in Consulting: “It’s Right and Okay to Get What You Want”

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On this issue of #WomenInConsulting, we are featuring Shirley Held  – a Partner, Cognitive & Analytics, Public Service at IBM Services. She shares her favorite part of working at IBM, her passion and advice on career development.


Name:  Shirley Held

Position/Positions Held at IBM:  Partner, Cognitive & Analytics, Public Service, IBM Services

Current Work Location: Paramus NJ

Length of Employment at IBM: 23 years


What do you do in your current role and what are you known for at the company?

I am currently a partner in the Public Service sector (PS) Cognitive & Analytics practice. I collaborate with client teams across PS industries to differentiate IBM offerings, by leveraging cognitive technologies and innovation and help our clients transform their business.  I am a subject matter expert in Talent Analytics and Cognitive AI.

What’s your favorite part about your job and working at IBM Services? 

The best part of my job is to work with smart and dedicated coworkers and solve some of the toughest problems for our client using cutting edge technologies.  I collaborate with many organizations within IBM and clients.  There is never a dull moment every day.

What would your colleagues say is your best quality? 

Lead by example, compassion and conviction

What do you do outside of work for fun?

I am a poor swimmer but love snorkeling.  Whenever my family and I go on tropical vacations, I would take every opportunity for the snorkeling adventure.  In a most recent trip to Hawaii, I was fortunate to encounter a pair of octopus that played with each other among the coral reef.

What’s your advice for finding a mentor or coach and are there any specific career development opportunities that have helped you the most in your career with IBM?  

It is important to find mentors and sponsors for your career and equally important to be a mentor to others.  The former will help guide you with career options and find an advocate(s) of your career within the company or industry, the latter is practicing your leadership skills and give back.

What valuable advice have you received in your career that helped get you here?

The best advice I received was from Dr. Ron Brown, in an earlier leadership class I attended in IBM:  it’s right and okay to get what you want.  it’s important to practice the skills to ask for what you want in order build emotional comfort and confidence within yourself and verbal skills to achieve that.


Interested in a career in Analytics? Check out careers in consulting. If you want more career information, sign up for the IBM Talent Network to stay in touch with us.

The article first appeared at IBM’s FairyGodBoss profile page.

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