Diversity

Working in a Tech World Where Gender Doesn’t Matter

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By Andrea Martin (4 min read)

As I write this blog I look at a roughly 9,570-day career at IBM. You may think “Wow, why didn’t she ever change her job?” or “Why did she never work for another company?” Well, let me elaborate on this a little bit. There are actually two aspects to the fact of such a long career in one company.

Firstly, I have indeed changed my job several times—but all within IBM. The opportunities that I, and all of us IBMers, have in this company are so versatile that it has never been boring, and I know it will never be boring. I had the opportunity to work with all state-of-the-art technologies of the past 20+ years, see new computing paradigms coming, and worked in the most challenging yet interesting client environments. The opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation all the time, is truly enticing. Yet, this innovation spirit that vibrates everywhere in IBM is only one side of the coin why I keep on working here.

The second aspect of my long career at IBM is equally positive and has probably been even more important and energizing over the years: It’s all about #BeEqual and the culture behind this hashtag.

In all my years in IBM I have experienced our culture as the most encouraging, inspiring, and inclusive you can imagine. On my first day at IBM Germany in December 1992, I still remember my very first manager telling me, “Andrea, you can achieve anything you want in this company. You just need to take ownership for your career.” (Of course, he talked German so I paraphrased his statement here in English.)

This one statement has been with me throughout my career and has always motivated me to take the next step – and not be afraid of it. From working on IT implementation projects as an IT specialist, to consulting clients on transformational efforts, to finally leading a global technical community (IBM Academy of Technology) for a couple of years and then becoming the Chief Technology Officer for IBM in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Indeed, this very one sentence helped me to clearly identify – and articulate – what I want, what I’m interested in, and what help I need to take the next step.

No one has ever questioned my qualification, capabilities, and competence because why should they?

In talking about inspiration and inclusiveness, you cannot imagine what energy – apart from new skills and knowledge – you can get from working alongside the most talented technical and business leaders around the world and meeting them in person. I have always experienced IBM as a truly globally integrated company that enables its employees to broaden our horizons and dive into the richness of cultures, mentalities, and personal backgrounds all IBMers bring to the table. This is an extremely enriching experience and I haven’t seen it elsewhere to this extent.

As I read stories everywhere celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th, and Women’s History Month in March, it only made me realize that when you work for IBM, it doesn’t matter what gender you have.

Diversity and inclusion – words that not only refer to gender diversity – have a long history at IBM. Did you know that it was as early as 1899 that the first women and black employee were hired? That equal pay was introduced in 1935, decades before the Equal Pay Act in the US? And that the IBM President signed the Equal Opportunity Policy for our company in 1953? Diversity and inclusion goes on and on to this day. The timeline of progress clearly shows evidence of this. And my personal experience in the many teams I have been a member of over the years is another very personal evidence. No one has ever questioned my qualification, capabilities, and competence because why should they? I’m a person passionate about people and technology, striving to create a future worth living in. This is what counts. This is the spirit of IBM. This is #BeEqual.

So, do you still wonder why I’m still enthusiastic about working at IBM after all these years? I guess this answers your question.

 


About the Author

Andrea Martin is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for IBM Germany, Austria, and Switzerland since September 2015. Her current focus areas are state-of-the-art technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things and of course Cloud, and representing IBM’s business & technology strategy externally. Andrea has started her career at IBM in 1992 as an IT Specialist after she had earned a diploma in applied mathematics from the University in Karlsruhe, Germany. She lives in Munich, Germany, with her husband and enjoys reading and outdoor activities.

Follow Andrea on Twitter or reach out on LinkedIn if you want to hear more about experiences in IBM.

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