Taking charge

Katharyn White, reveals the challenges of being vice president, marketing, IBM Global Business Services.

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By  Administrator Published  June 19, 2008

Katharyn White, reveals the challenges of being vice president, marketing, IBM Global Business Services.

You currently hold the position of Vice President Marketing, IBM Global Business Services - what are the best and worst aspects of your role?

The best aspect is that I'm constantly involved in enabling Innovation that Matters for IBM. By that I mean not only as a business getting our messages out but also in such a way that has a positive impact on the world around us such as IBM's solution to the world rice shortage.

The worst aspect is trying to find a day which has more than twenty-four hours in it.

What is the key to successfully managing a large team that is spread out in different parts of the world?

IBM taps into diverse cultures in the 170 countries where we operate around the world. This allows us to learn from one another in a very positive way and build a great team of people with different but complementary skills and experiences.

Collaboration is also very important; in our technological age, there are no excuses for letting this aspect slip as it's a way to ensure your team is always prepared for the future.

How would you describe your management style?

I see myself as tough and fair. I manage many projects and always pay attention to detail. Management style brings success to your organisation; your people skills are obviously a key asset in the development of effective management styles

Dealing with people is a professional skill in itself and being able to see from the perspective of others is essential.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your career?

I love a challenge, so the biggest is always the next one. Challenges keep you fresh and the toughest challenges require innovation. Challenges today come collectively in relentless waves and it's up to us to raise our capabilities and make a difference.

What achievement are you most proud of so far?

I try to make a difference every day, some days the impact is greater than others. I am most proud when we live our IBM values to accomplish great things.

An excellent one is our latest CEO study, The Enterprise of the Future, which reflects the insights of over 1,100 CEO and public sector leaders, representing 40 nationals and 32 industries.

Based on the collective wisdom of the CEO crowd, this unprecedented study defines the five core traits of the Enterprise of the Future by shedding light on how outperforming CEOS are capitalising on the opportunities brought on by the globally integrated economy.

Compelling findings around corporate social responsibility, customer collaboration and partnering, global integration and business model innovation are addressed in the analysis which can be read www.ibm.com/enterprise of the future.

Working with an organisation as multi faceted and international as IBM, how do you manage to keep on top of all the new services and products the company is developing?

IBM is in business to create value for our clients so focusing on clients' needs is paramount. IBM also has a fantastic support structure which fosters employee development.

By developing your employees you can manage to keep on top of all the new services and products which at the end of the day delivers better service and value to our clients.

In your experience of working within technology related sales and marketing, how would you say the sector has changed over the past 20 years, has it for instance become much more competitive?

It changes so much day by day, it is hard to keep a 20-year perspective. But the most valuable asset is still a constant: the people. Technology touches people everyday and changes the way we live and work, people at IBM are well aware of this which is why we are constantly facilitating positive change through innovation.

Another change is that clients are generally more tech savvy these days and know what they want. They are no longer scared of technology but embrace it as a business imperative.

Do you think the way in which people conduct business is changing?

Business and ways of doing business are in a constant state of evolution however the basics still matter, being trusted, reliable and delivering results. At IBM we do this through innovative approaches to tackle change.

The integration of business and technology is a key requirement for enterprises in today's dynamic flat world. Our global network of business partners is critical in dealing with the changing needs of our clients and allows us to cater to diverse needs.

One obvious change is that time to impact (or business return) has become increasingly critical as business' are under constant pressure to show tangible results in an ever short time scale.

What are your main goals going forward?

The main goal is delivering more value by increasing the relevance of marketing for our clients, our business, and our future. We will do this in the context of a globally integrated enterprise that consolidates the back office while localising the front office.

Katharyn White brings twenty years of international sales and marketing experience to her current mission as Vice President, Marketing, IBM Global Business Services. She lives in Zurich with her husband and two children.

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