Trends and Profiles

Women of Watson Part 2: Meet Laura Donaldson

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In honor of Women’s History Month for the month of March, we’re continuing our Women of Watson series. This week, we’re featuring IBM Watson Marketing Leader Laura Donaldson. Prior to her career at IBM, Laura was an Emmy-winning broadcaster in Indiana, as well as a public relations manager in Arizona.

Laura discusses in detail her seamless transition into tech and how her ability to transform throughout various industries has led her to this point in her career. Get to know Laura Donaldson:

How did you end up with a career in tech, and what led you to IBM Watson?

I wanted to make a difference. I’m a former broadcast journalist turned fire department public relations manager. Both careers allowed me to help others. My friend – a talented engineer for IBM Watson – told me about her work with Watson. She shared the inspiring difference Watson was making in healthcare and other industries around the world. I was inspired by the power AI had to improve how we can work and help each other with technology.

Can you tell us more about your role and day-to-day responsibilities?

I’m the marketing team leader for Watson Assistant, Watson Discovery and Watson Compare and Comply. I work with our entire IBM team – offering management, sales, advertising, design and others – to share how these products are at work in the world. On a day-to-day basis, I look after the websites, events strategy and communication for these products.

What excites you most about AI and the future of IBM Watson?

I believe we are at a pivotal moment in time; one similar to when the Internet was created or personal computers were developed and embraced. The world is learning how to embrace AI in our personal and professional lives. We’re learning how to trust AI, how to embed it into our work in a more meaningful way and how to use it for a positive impact in the world. I’m excited to be a part of this powerful industry and help shape how we build with AI and embrace it in business. I do agree with IBM’s statement: if we change the way businesses operate, we change the way the world works.

In honor of Women’s History Month, what advice do you have for young women looking to become leaders in the tech industry?

Don’t be the smartest one in the room. Often we feel we must be the smartest woman in the room; and ensure others know it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe you should surround yourself with smarter people that will challenge ideas, bring new perspectives to the table and drive innovation.

What’s in store for you this year?

I have the opportunity to travel the world (I’m in Munich as I write this and will be in London later this week) to meet business leaders and discuss the problems they want to solve with AI. I’m inspired by these innovators and their teams who continue to push boundaries and test limits of the technology.

As a leader for IBM Watson, how do you manage your team? What resources/strategies have you found successful?

I highly recommend reading “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. Doerr outlines a revolutionary management system which focuses your team on objectives and key results. This helps you prioritize and focus on what really matters in your business and within your team. It has helped reduce frustration in my team and provided each member with quantifiable business results for their work.

Check back later this week for part three of the Women of Watson series!

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