IBMers, Tim and Melissa, on Bringing Their Authentic Selves to Work

By | 7 minute read | July 4, 2022

In the first of our two-part blog series on how LGBTQ+ IBMers bring their authentic selves to work, you heard from Ella, our Global LGBTQ+ Lead, and Nick, one of our Project Managers, talk about their personal and career journeys, accomplishments and challenges they’ve faced, and the ways IBM helped them thrive.

IBM has a rich heritage in diversity and inclusion and has many inclusive policies, collaboration tools and benefits to support our LGBTQ+ community, including:

  • transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits
  • over 50 LGBTQ+ business resource groups for employees to connect with local community members
  • weekly community calls for LGBTQ+ IBMers to chat with other like-minded individuals
  • a global LGBTQ+ council focused on creating a safe and desirable workplace for all people
  • ability for IBMers to display their pronouns on their internal profiles
  • training and certification programs on LGBTQ+ inclusivity
  • workplace transition support and education for IBMers on being an ally to transitioning colleagues

In the second part of our blog series, you’ll hear from Tim, one of our Agile Transformation Leads, and Melissa, one of our Account Executives in Sales, share their stories on what it means to bring your authentic self to work and how IBM as a company, along with their fellow IBMers, have made a positive impact on their personal and professional lives.

 

Tim: Diversity & Inclusion Define Me

“Diversity and inclusion define me because I’m an Out role model at a company that stands by its values and its people.” – Tim (he/him), IBM’s Agile Transformation Lead for IBM Consulting

Tim started working at IBM 20+ years ago in Scotland. Over that time, he’s lived and worked in Spain, Brazil, and most recently in Budapest in Hungary. Tim works as an Agile and Engagement Champion, focusing locally and globally, on projects and initiatives related to Agile, employee experience, and leadership support.

Outside of work, Tim is a total foodie, loves to read and write fiction, travel, and photography. Living in so many different places and interacting with so many people from different backgrounds in various languages has made diversity and inclusion important to Tim personally from a cultural perspective.

Hear more about the accomplishments Tim is proudest of at IBM:

Read more from our conversation with Tim:

What defines you?

Diversity and inclusion define me. I’ve lived in so many different countries; once I did the math and counted all the different nationalities my first line managers were, and all the different nationalities I worked with directly, it was more than 30! Cultural diversity is something I’ve always loved, and my love for languages links into that cultural diversity. I’m a traveler and I’m a photographer and these kinds of things are all somehow interrelated. I want to make sure that everybody can be his or her best version of him or herself. Diversity and inclusion and its multiple aspects are important for me, and I wouldn’t be able to live without it.

How has IBM enabled you to be your authentic self at work?

Giving me the support needed as a person, as an individual, and as a professional. People accepting who we are and if there’s any challenge, then IBM will always step up and say, ‘How can we support you’? That is not always there outside of IBM in the market. Sometimes we tend to take that for granted because we’re used to it so much or we only see it from inside. But then you hear stories from the outside and go, ‘So this is not that common.’ I think sometimes we forget that, and we shouldn’t, because I think it’s an important element of what makes IBM, IBM.

What’s been your favorite part of your job?

I’m one of the Agile Master Champions. We’re a global squad and we roll out specific projects within the framework. Working across the globe and having this very culturally diverse team to roll this all out and to really set up the framework as a way to empower the team members and get them involved in what they do is very gratifying to be a part of.

 

Melissa: Power Defines Me

“Power defines me because I try to do something every day that empowers me to be a little bit stronger in my own skin and in my own shoes and in my own environment.” – Melissa (she/her), IBM Account Executive in Sales

Melissa lives with her partner in Chicago in the U.S. She works as an IBM Account Executive, helping customers automate processes, workflows, and everyday tasks to work smarter. Sales is in Melissa’s blood; her mom and dad were in Sales, and her brother will soon be working at IBM in Sales as well!

Outside of work, Melissa is a chair member for several groups at IBM, including the LGBTQ+ Chicago group, the Chicago Women’s Networking group, and the Chicago Black Networking group. She is passionate about women in technology and equality and has been a guest speaker at conferences like GirlCon and Lesbians Who Tech.

Watch Melissa talk the impact working at IBM has had on her life:

Read more from our conversation with Melissa:

What defines you?

Power defines me because I try to do something every day that empowers me to be a little bit stronger in my own skin and in my own shoes and in my own environment. I think we as people maybe underestimate how much power we have, not in a weird sense of “I’m more powerful than you”, but internal power of self-encouragement. Power that I’ve got my own back, that I’m capable, and that I’m great. I try to say these things to myself in the mirror and do things that empower me whenever I can.

Do you have an interesting story about how you ended up at IBM?

I originally was very anti-Sales. Funny enough because both my parents were in Sales. I was going to business school for my marketing degree, and I remember a professor of mine taught the Sales class, which was required as a part of my major. We’re in class, and he says, raise your hand if you are going to get a job in marketing. This was my senior year, so I raise my hand. And then he says, keep your hand up if you’re going to have the salary you want, and we’re all holding our hands up very proud. He says everyone put your hands down because you won’t make even 50% of what you’re looking for unless you work in Sales. I was curious. How dare he say that my chosen career path and what I’ve dedicated all my years of study to won’t pay!

He announced to the class for extra credit we could compete in an internal sales competition amongst ourselves. I requested time in his office, and I said, I need you to teach me all of Sales today because the competition is this weekend. We stayed in his office for hours and he taught me everything. So, I go to the competition, and I win the number one spot. That’s when I got the Sales bug and thought, okay, I’ve got to do this. I went on to compete at the international Sales competition, which IBM recruits at. I remember I was in the top ten of the competition, and there was a networking event in between sessions that you could go to as a student. I walked up to the IBM table, and I said, I’m winning, and you should interview me. She [the IBM recruiter] loved it and said okay. I got the job a few weeks later. That’s how I got to IBM and I’m forever grateful for it!

What’s your idea of happiness?

From two things: fulfillment and balance. That’s the perfect equation for happiness. Whether fulfillment means challenge in a positive way or trying new things or maybe even achieving something that I never thought I could. I’m happy when I’m being fulfilled, and those types of things fulfill me as a person. The other piece of my happiness equation is all about balance, especially with the pandemic. I learned all about what my priorities were and how to balance those with my personal life and my work life. I found that once I managed to perfect that balance, I was truly happy. I think those two things, when they’re put together, gives me happiness.

 

Being Your Authentic Self

For over 100 years, IBM has been a catalyst that makes the world work better and is dedicated to driving actionable change for a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society. Our commitment to provide a safe, open, and welcoming environment for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, has allowed us to attract and retain diverse, best-in-class talent.

We hope you enjoyed listening to and reading about the stories that Tim and Melissa shared as part of the LGBTQ+ community at IBM, as well as the experiences Ella and Nick talked about in the first part of this blog series.

Visit our Diversity & Inclusion portal to learn more about our commitments to the LGBTQ+ community and join us as we drive progress for people in every community around the world.