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(5 min read) The Inspirational Executive Series consists of interviews with our executive IBMers to demonstrate how you can successfully build an executive career in this increasingly demanding market. Juggling work, life, and family commitments is a daunting challenge, but this series reveals how, with careful time management, flexible leadership, and a willingness to embrace the challenge, IBM can support successful executives to succeed in every aspect of their careers.
On this issue of The Inspirational Executive Series, we are featuring Bhuvana Natarajan, Financial Services Partner in IBM India.
About Bhuvana Natarajan
Bhuvana has three decades of experience working with insurance companies and has consulted for them on technology and technology-enabled services. She has spent the last three years in IBM leading a large banking account, supporting our client in their transformational journey. She is passionate about applying technology to drive business outcomes and takes real enjoyment in working with our clients to develop innovative solutions to solve business issues. She is looking forward to her new role as Transformation Leader for the Global Business Services (GBS) unit of IBM India and South Asia (ISA) as this gives her a great opportunity to learn and contribute to our strategy of accelerating our clients’ journey to become cognitive enterprises.
Can you describe your role at IBM?
As the Account Partner for a large bank in India, I wear multiple hats: a trusted advisor for our client bringing to them IBM’s industry leading solutions and offerings; a mentor for our team of delivery managers, collaborating with them to deliver value for our client; a leader who is always energized by the dedication, innovation and client first attitude of our teams; and sometimes a bean counter to ensure we deliver revenue, profits and value for IBM.
I am very excited about my new role as Transformation Leader for GBS ISA. I have consulted for our clients in the past, shaping their transformation. Now, I have an opportunity to apply my experience, learn and contribute to our own business.
What skills and experience have you developed over your career that lead you to this position?
Succeeding with our clients is far less about technical or subject matter expertise and a lot more about listening to them, understanding from their position, and then collaborating with a variety of experts to find the right solution. I learned this early in my consulting days and it is still relevant today as it is a central theme in the IBM Way. Yet in our business, it is almost mandatory for us to have a certain level of expertise, a sort of core competence for which you are known. My initial stint with financial institutions helped me develop that subject matter expertise. But what has really kept me in good stead is my willingness to learn and adapt. I have been able to transition from an insurance domain expert to a banking account leader to now a transformation leader.
Can you tell us about the work you do outside of your role as Account Partner at IBM?
I really enjoy spending time mentoring younger professionals. But I must admit, I have done this more informally than through formal programs. Outside IBM, I do undertake responsibilities for people who are less privileged and use my network to help them.
What is your favorite thing about being an IBMer?
As an IBMer I have collected a treasure trove of experience. A financial services expert who consulted on process outsourcing to technology; an IBMer applying consulting skills in Ado Ekiti, Nigeria as part of a CSC team to the august halls of Harvard Business School, learning important leadership lessons; a team member in teams with every kind of diversity; my clients who varied from global financial services giants to start up financial institutions who wanted to challenge the established order; colleagues who challenged me and coached me to do better and better!
Outside of IBM, what are your hobbies, interests, and passions?
An avid trekker, Himalayas will remain my first love forever. I love traveling and meeting people. More recently, I have started learning Hindustani Classical music and am completely awestruck at the arithmetic of this art form.
How do you manage your work life balance?
I just enjoy both. I am very focused when I am working but when I do need to take time out for my family, I do so without guilt.
Do you have any advice for employees aspiring to an executive career?
The transition to an executive role is a mindset change from doing a job to owning your function/practice/role or whatever your responsibility is. Take initiatives, take ownership, feel accountable and deliver have been my mantra for success.