Whitley’s Story: From Intern to Senior Consultant in 5 Years
We recently met with one of our Senior Consultants based in the United Kingdom, Whitley, and asked her to tell us more about her life at IBM, her career progression, and the impact her work has across multiple industries.
Whitley has a Business and Management Degree from the University of Portsmouth and is a certified SAP Activate Project Manager and Scrum Master. She has been with IBM for several years and has worked on projects that span multiple industries including oil and gas, travel and transportation, and financial markets. She is currently working as a Senior Delivery Consultant from our office in London.
Below are some questions we asked Whitley:
You work with external clients of IBM, right? Can you give us an example of how IBM makes an impact on people’s lives?
Yes, I work directly with external clients. One example is the joint Hackathon I organised with one of our public sector clients. I was responsible for planning and delivering the event which ran for two days. This was great because it allowed both companies to come together and combined their business expertise with our technical experts.
For the Hackathon, we were presented with four business challenges that were real-world examples of problems the company faces. I was able to relate to the problems from my experience as a customer of that public sector service. During the hackathon, it was really interesting to work with different teams on solving actual real-world problems and presenting these solutions to the business leaders responsible for addressing these issues.
Tell us something more about yourself and how you got involved with IBM in the first place.
I joined IBM just over five years ago as a graduate, after completing an internship year as part of my degree program. When I was on my placement year, I had such a great experience and really enjoyed the work that IBM did and the people I met. I knew I wanted to come back before I finished the internship.
During my internship, I was working as an infrastructure assistant for one of our financial markets clients, and a big part of that work involved compliance and regulation. One of the projects I had the opportunity to work on, and lead, was managing the migration of a compliance monitoring database from an old legacy tool to a new one.
My team lead allowed me to run that project myself. I was responsible for assessing the impact of that change, researching the new tool, managing how the migration would happen, and producing a plan on how to deliver training of the new tool to its end users.
You mentioned that during the internship, you had an amazing experience that made you want to return to IBM. Can you talk more about this?
I really enjoyed the amount of independence I was given on the migration project. It gave me so much experience to do things individually, like leading the training for over 70 people. I think when you’re an intern, that’s quite a big task! It was exciting to have the opportunity to deliver it. It also gave me a lot of confidence as a woman in technology, which is a predominantly male-dominated environment.
What’s your favorite part about your current role and what do you enjoy most about it?
I really enjoy working with the client. We’ve been very fortunate so far in our projects that the team we work with has been extremely receptive. They’ve been very open and passionate about wanting to make changes. They understand that if we work together, we can really create something great.
You said that you work often with SAP and that you’re a certified SAP Associate. What made you choose SAP?
I am a person who is quite logical and likes things to be specific and defined. I find SAP easy to understand in the sense that once you’ve read about it or experienced it on a project, you’re able to retain that knowledge and implement in your next engagement.
I feel there’s something for everyone in SAP, depending on what your skill set is, what you’d like to learn, and how you work best. For me, as a delivery lead, and having completed the SAP project manager certification, I didn’t find it too challenging and think it’s a very achievable goal for those who do not want to go down the technical path.
You’ve been at IBM for a few years. What do you love the most about working at IBM?
I enjoy coming to work every day, the people I work with, the projects I work on, and the work life balance.
Everything from the people I talk to, to the interactions I have with co-workers and clients have all been a very rewarding experience. Even if a project isn’t going well—maybe the client’s not happy, the project is behind schedule, we’re over budget, we’re not going to deliver on our commitments, or the scope has changed—we still have the chance to work together to do what we can to fix the problem and achieve great results.
So, if we must go to a client and have a difficult conversation, as I often do in my delivery lead role, I own it and try my best to deliver a solution. Even if I don’t know what the solution may be at the beginning, I can reach out to someone in my network and ask how to have that difficult conversation, and they’re always willing to spend time with me to talk through it. This is a great example of how my co-workers help me grow and become a better IBMer every day.
What’s kept me here all this time is that I know every day is not going to be easy and not every project is going to be fun, but the people around me make it rewarding.
No two days are ever the same. It just really fulfills me.
Last question, Whitley. Do you feel that you can truly be your authentic self at work?
Yeah, I think this is quite a big question for me because I’m a black IBMer. In the UK, we are a minority, and we just launched the black business resource group, which is a staff network dedicated to the challenges that we face around retaining talent and recruiting people from more diverse backgrounds.
I think all these different communities are very, very important because as much as we would love to say that the world is a fair place, it’s just not. It’s great that our leadership is so committed to understanding the issues our community faces and acting on them. It’s not just words, I am seeing the tangible outcomes.
It’s great that IBM is so committed to making sure that everyone can bring their true authentic selves to work, and I feel that I can.
Learn more about IBM Consulting and jobs in SAP
If you’re interested in the work Whitley does as a Senior Delivery Lead or want to learn more about our Consulting and SAP jobs at IBM, please visit our careers website. If you don’t see open roles that align with your skills and interests, join our Consulting Talent Network receive updates on career opportunities that match your interests and skills.