This is my IBM

This is Tara. Creating Next Gen Leaders

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Welcome to episode 6 in our interview series, This is my IBM.

This week I talk to Tara Suran from IBM Consulting. Tara shares more on her journey as an apprentice at IBM, what she is learning about herself along the way and how excited she is to be stepping onto the property ladder for the first time.



Hi Tara, lovely to talk to you today. Can you tell me a bit more about your role at IBM?

I’m currently working as a Business Analyst which means my role is all about bridging the gap between the technology and the business.

When did you join IBM and what led you to work here?

I joined IBM back in July 2019 as an apprentice. I wanted to work on exciting projects and gain qualifications, experience and a network alongside studying. A career but without the burden of student debt.

Was it just the lack of debt that attracted you to taking an apprenticeship at IBM?

I actually did two years as an apprentice at a solicitors prior to joining IBM but the culture for early professionals was very different there and I decided at the time, that law just wasn’t for me. I looked to switch career paths and applied to IBM. I joined on IBM’s level four junior management consultancy programme, and I can honestly say it’s been life changing – and I don’t say that easily.

You have had some fantastic success, recognised with external awards including recently Apprentice of the Year at the TargetJobs awards.  Congratulations. What kind of roles and opportunities have you had at IBM so far?

The opportunities that I have had so far have been amazing. My first ever role was in project management with a large life science company and within the first month I was already presenting in front of executives at IBM and the CEO of the client. I’ve also worked in defect management, as a business analyst and as a scrum master. For each role, I have had an incredible level of support.

And in tandem you have been able to progress with your apprenticeship qualifications?

The great thing is that everything I do on the job counts towards my apprenticeship, including additional training. It feels like I am constantly learning, improving my ability to both do my role and achieve my qualifications. I passed my level 4 apprenticeship with distinction and I am now working on my degree apprenticeship at IBM, doing a level six in chartered management.

Is there a project that you have done that stands out as your favourite?

I worked as project manager for The Shuri Network, creating a Shadowing Programme for the first network of women of colour in digital health to support their progression. The programme was also used as part of the NHS Stand Against Racism initiative.

What’s the biggest challenge that you have faced so far and how did you overcome it?

Juggling a lot of responsibilities was a challenge. At IBM we have the autonomy to choose to get involved in many different initiatives alongside the day job, so learning how to prioritise has been key. Speaking to mentors really helped me as they taught me how to determine what to take on and what not to.

What has been the most surprising aspect of life at IBM?

As an apprentice, you could assume that as you are starting out you aren’t as valuable a team member than those more senior. However it couldn’t be less true; from the moment you become an IBMer, regardless of your level, you are a valuable member of the team and your thoughts are encouraged and celebrated.

What have you learnt about yourself since being at IBM?

Wow. I started at IBM really early on in my career, having mentors and managers who are invested in you both personally and professionally has meant that I have grown and developed so much as a person. I’ve learned all sorts from the kind of manager I’d like to be in the future, to how I should handle difficult times and how that should be communicated. Most importantly I learned my personality type and how I can use my strengths to bring out the best of the projects that I’m on.

And as well as your day-job, are there any other initiatives that you are passionate about?

I’m the Early Professionals Emb(race) Lead, and responsible for attracting, promoting, and engaging ethnic minorities. I started and led IBM’s first Early Professional group for ethnic minorities in external initiatives such as part of the Diversity Drivers for the North West Business Leadership Team, and I’m a BAME Apprentice Network Committee Member.

Imagination and creativity are really important to us as IBMers. Can you think of when you last used your creativity to inspire change?

Being creative is an everyday thing as an IBMer which is fantastic. As Early Professionals Emb(race) Lead, I’ve been working with the British Computer Society to create material for the new T-Level scheme as we look to inspire the next generation.

Whilst you inspire the next generation, who inspires you?

My parents, they showed me the true meaning of hard work and supported me through everything. They provided me with the perfect mix of East meets West which inspires my creativity and ability to view things in different lights.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in your life right now?

I’ve just purchased my first house so that is pretty exciting!

And finally, do you have any advice for anyone considering an apprenticeship?

My parents were set on me going to university, and now my dad comments on my LinkedIn posts of how proud he is of me. The apprenticeship has opened many opportunities, and it is what you make of it, if you want to succeed the path is there, the support is there. If I could change just one thing, it would be that I would have picked IBM sooner.

Learn more about joining IBM as part of the apprenticeship scheme >

And finally, find out how the next IBMer in the series responds to the question that Tara poses at the end of her audio interview 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.

IBMer Communications

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