29 September, 2022 | Written by: Hannah Rhind
Categorized: This is my IBM
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Welcome to episode 8 in our interview series, This is my IBM.
This week I talk to Harshitha Shivakumar from IBM Consulting. Harshitha talks about returning to IBM as a graduate after a successful placement year, the challenges and rewards her role provides working on critical national infrastructure and who her guiding light has been throughout this time.
Hi Harshitha, lovely to chat with you today. Can you tell us a bit more about your role at IBM?
Absolutely! I am a Senior Technical Consultant in IBM Consulting and am currently the Quality Assurance Lead for a large-scale customs transformation project at His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, responsible for the testing and delivery of critical UK border trade infrastructure.
When did you join IBM and what led you to work here?
I initially did a placement year with IBM whilst pursuing my MEng Computer Science degree at the University of Birmingham. I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout my placement year, it was an incredible learning experience. I applied back onto the IBM Consulting Associates Programme and returned to IBM back in November 2019 as a Graduate Technical Consultant.
And can you tell us a bit more about the project that you are working on right now?
The customs transformation project that I am currently working on is delivering brand new applications for critical national infrastructure. At a high level, IBM has been working alongside HMRC to help create a secure, reliable channel for international trade to come into the UK through.
And is it the most exciting project you’ve worked on during your time at IBM?
Yes definitely! From joining as a Junior Quality Assurance (QA) Automation Engineer to developing into the Quality Assurance Lead of the project within a year, this project has been both challenging and exciting. I love how I get to do work that truly makes a difference.
What is the biggest challenge that you have faced whilst an IBMer and how did you overcome it?
My first role required me to carry out complete end to end testing of critical components of national infrastructure within tight client deadlines; although daunting at first, it showed me the true meaning of hard work and that anything is possible with perseverance. My career has gone on from strength to strength since then.
Imagination and creativity are important to us as IBMers. Can you think of when you last used your creativity to inspire change?
I’m a strong advocate for encouraging women to consider a career in technology. I recently ideated, designed and implemented new attraction and hiring campaigns for IBM with a focus on Diversity and Inclusion which has helped in recruiting more women and students from under-represented communities into IBM.
And what has been the most surprising aspect of life at IBM?
Each day at IBM is different, challenging and intellectually stimulating. No one day has been the same and that’s what has made my experience at IBM exciting so far. I love the work culture too and how actively we are encouraged to bring our whole selves to work.
What have you learnt about yourself during your time at IBM?
I have learnt that growth and comfort do not co-exist and it’s important to never be afraid to take on new challenges.
As well as the day job, are you involved in any other initiatives within IBM?
I am involved in multiple Diversity and Inclusion initiatives as I am very passionate about ensuring that everyone is treated equally and with respect and am working towards consigning the world of judgment and prejudice to the distant past. I also enjoy mentoring students and early professionals as I strongly believe that mentorship is one step towards diversity, especially in technology.
Other than what you do for work, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I am a food enthusiast and an avid traveller. I really enjoy cooking and trying out food from different cuisines across the world. And I love dancing. I find both cooking and dancing to be therapeutic and all I need after a long day at work.
And finally, who inspires you?
My parents have always been my biggest source of inspiration. They showed me the true meaning of hard work and perseverance, and it is because of them that I have always dreamt big and followed my dreams. I am also blessed to have a fantastic mentor in tech who happens to be my sister; Shobitha Shivakumar is a Cyber Security Consultant at IBM. She has always been my guiding light since school and everything that I do is a reflection of what I have seen and learnt from her.
Learn more about joining IBM as part of the graduate scheme > https://www.ibm.com/uk-en/employment/graduate/
And finally, watch this space to learn more from the next IBMer in this series and discover how they turn ideas into action. What inspires them. What has surprised them. And what they mean when they say This is my IBM.