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Inspirational IBM Executive Chris Brown Talks About His Journey to Leadership

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(3 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 and personal commitments is a daunting challenge, but this series reveals how, with careful time management, flexible leadership, and a willingness to embrace challenges, IBM can support executives to succeed in every aspect of their careers.

In this issue of The Inspirational Executive Series, we interviewed Chris Brown, IBM Executive Partner and Large Deals Leader for the Global Business Services (GBS) group based in the UK and Ireland (UKI).

Please tell us about your role at IBM.

I work with clients that are using or want to use data and technology to reinvent their organisations to bring about strategic business transformation and improved business outcomes. As an easy example to imagine, think of the transformation needed to move from a traditional mail order catalogue retailer to an online retailer.  From a business management perspective, I’m part of the UKI Industrial sector leadership team and responsible for the large deal sales. Industrial sector is one of the five GBS UKI industry go-to-market business verticals.  People-wise I run a number of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and I’m the Industrial Sector Automation practice lead.

What skills and experiences have you developed over your career that led you to this position?

I’m always learning, building on a legal degree and qualifying as a non-practising barrister, qualifying as a chartered account with one of the Big Four accounting firms and currently studying for an executive MBA at the Saïd Business School in Oxford. Mostly importantly, these qualifications have become relevant to my career through actively applying the learning to new and relevant situations. I also believe that emotional intelligence is a critical skill to develop and one that can be developed through active learning. Providing the ability to deeply connect with people to benefit from their experiences and insights in addition to your own; and this works both ways.

What is your favourite thing about being an IBMer?

Simple—I love the culture of IBM!

We do too! And outside of IBM, what are your hobbies, interests, and passions?

I love watching international rugby and I’m very much looking forward to the Rugby World Cup. I enjoy a day out on the bike, and look forward to an annual water sports holiday and annual snowboarding holiday. My wife loves discovering new places so we plan this into our holiday destinations and social activities whenever we can. I have a piano at home and learning to play although I’m making slow progress. But the most exciting for me right now is that I’m soon to be a father and I’m looking forward to welcoming a little girl.

Do you have any advice for those aspiring to an executive career?

I’d say enjoy the journey—do what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at doing. At the same time look ahead; ask yourself if you have built or are building the skills needed to be a future leader. Technology and AI is changing the world of work which is a huge opportunity for organisation as well as individuals.

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