“At IBM, if you are curious and have the right level of dedication, you will never be bored!”
IBM Vice President, Teresa Golden, is retiring after more than 34 years with IBM. Teresa is Vice President, Digital Transformation, for IBM Global Technology Services (GTS) where she is engaged in enhancing the GTS Web presence and client experience through digital channels. Throughout her career at IBM, Teresa has held multiple executive, managerial and staff positions in marketing, finance, business strategy and planning across multiple lines of business including business process and IT services, software, UNIX systems, personal computers, printers, multimedia and the Internet. She was involved with one of IBM’s most important inventions, e-business, as Vice President, e-business marketing, where she played a key role in extending IBM’s market leadership by driving initiatives to increase consideration and preference for IBM as an e-business solutions provider, leveraging the entire portfolio of hardware, software and services. IBM had 10,000 e-business customers by 1999. She later held executive leadership roles for IBM Learning Solutions, IBM Global Technology Services, and IBM Global Process Services. where she was a key driver in bringing IBM solution and service teams together to further IBM’s leadership in the market.
Teresa earned an MBA from Pace University and a BA from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. She is married with two grown children and a grandson.
When did you join IBM and what led you to join the company?
I joined in July 1979 as a junior systems analyst in Poughkeepsie, NY. Having already worked in the technology industry for 4 years, just completed my MBA and recently moved Dutchess County, NY, I was looking for a new opportunity. As a 2nd generation IBMer, I made my father very happy when I opted to join IBM.
What were some of your more interesting roles and what did they entail?
I’ve enjoyed most of my roles over the last 34+ years. One of the ‘fun’ roles early in my career was as a Graphics Marketing Support Representative during the infancy of computer-aided business graphics (e.g. 3279 and 3277 GA). In that capacity, the Poughkeepsie-based Graphics Support Center conducted client briefings, held education classes for IBMers and participated in business shows about business and CAD/CAM graphics. I am also very proud of the work my team did in my two stints in e-business marketing. At the time, we were focused on re-positioning IBM as a leader in the technology industry. And I also truly enjoyed working in more of a ‘start-up’ environment as part of IBM Learning Solutions, which focused on the emerging business opportunity of e-learning. We established IBM as a leader in this space by developing a point of view on the Future of Learning, leveraging IBM’s experience in Leadership Development and applying a broad marketing mix to promote our capabilities while driving real business results.
What was the workplace like when you joined, and how did it change over time?
When I started, the 3277 display terminal was ‘new’ technology! Some of the first reports I created used JCL (Job Control Language)! Subsequently, there has been a marked acceleration in the pace at which decisions are made and a shift is where and how work gets done. Innovation is now happening much closer to the client versus primarily in the development labs.
What do you see are the major upcoming trends in your field?
In marketing, it’s all about becoming more personal and reaching target audiences primarily through digital, including mobile, channels. Being able to capitalize on this will be key to marketing success in the future.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
Today, regardless of my physical work location, I can be productive as long as I have my laptop and a network connection. I’m often on calls with other IBMers around the globe early mornings into late evenings but the pursuit of excellence remains the same as when I started.
How and where do you find inspiration?
I personally love the quiet associated with being outdoors in nature to think things through and/or develop the next course of action. That said, I’ve often been inspired by some incredible IBMers who envision the future and encourage others to stretch their limits.
What values are you committed to?
The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you.
What did you like most about your career with IBM?
I really appreciated the relatively fast pace of the technology industry with the opportunity to continually learn and apply new skills. At IBM, if you are curious and have the right level of dedication, you will never be bored!
What qualities have you most appreciated in the people you have worked with in the past?
I tend to be very operational and thus truly appreciate individuals who are visionary and can motivate others about the impact that our work can have on individuals, industries and the world.
How do you show others that you believe in them?
Always acknowledge good work and the time that is expended in creating it. Spend time with individually with team members talking through how/what they learn from their work and continually improve.
What has been your experience working as a woman in the technology industry?
The world has changed so much for women. When IBM contacted me regarding my initial interviews, my father told me that I would not be hired because I was pregnant! Thankfully, that prediction did not come true. In the early days, there were very few women in professional roles. Now, the IBM work force is more representative of the human population. When my children were young, working from home was not an option. Technology today offers so much more flexibility enabling work to be more smoothly integrated with ‘life’.
How did you achieve work-life balance?
I never really got to a work-life in balance. However, with the help of my husband of 38 years, we muddled through, raised two wonderful children and survived!
What dreams and goals inspired you to succeed?
Throughout my career, a common goal has been to be in a position to leave a role and/or a team in better shape than when I found it. At the end of the day, we all just want to make a difference!
What characteristics, skills, or attitudes set you apart and helped you be successful?
I seem to thrive in environments where I can help create order out of chaos. This ‘skill’, which most likely was learned growing up as the 3rd of nine children, has served me well.
How did you get where you are today?
I’ve recall being fascinated with technology in grade school, fueled by my father who used to talk about computers at my school. During college, I opted for business, math and programming courses and even spent a summer working for IBM as a tape librarian in a data center. After graduation, I worked for two other technology firms before I joined IBM as a junior systems analyst in Poughkeepsie, New York. I can’t say I ‘planned’ my career but looked for roles that I found interesting, typically focused on new growth areas, that enabled me to work for and with people I respected and knew I could learn from. I never hesitated to switch divisions as I knew it was an opportunity to learn about different aspects of this company – resulting in an exposure to hardware, software and services. I fell in love with marketing because it is always at the intersection of sales, development and finance and thus provides a good view of what is happening both internally and externally.
Who influenced you the most and why?
My father, now a retired IBMer, who opened the door to the possibilities of technology and encouraged me throughout my career.
Did you have any mentors, and, if so, how did they help you?
I’ve had multiple mentors, both male and female, throughout my career. One of them sponsored and helped me get my first executive role, Others have been wonderful ‘sounding boards’ to help me work through specific challenges I was facing.
Did you act as a mentor to others, and, if so, how did you help them?
I’ve mentored numerous IBMers over the years. Hopefully, I’ve provided them with a different perspective to think about and potentially act upon. Often, I’ve been a ‘sounding board’ and/or a source of encouragement. I have learned so much from my mentees making the time investment worthwhile.
What advice would you give to other women in tech to help them be successful?
Don’t lose sight of your priorities. Work will always be there but your family will grow up before you know it. Take the time to enjoy the special family moments. You now have the flexibility to do this. Take advantage of it!
What were some of the most important lessons you learned from your IBM career?
IBMers are so talented but we all have a different combination of skills that can be applied to the task at hand. Appreciating the differences and applying them where appropriate is fundamental to getting the most out of a team.
What would you do differently if given the opportunity?
I’d love to work on addressing some of the challenges associated with our current educational system. Education is the door opener to opportunity and is critical to the future success of our nation and the world. (Learn more about IBM education initiatives)
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time with my family – especially with my 5 year old grandson. I seem to recharge quickly when I’m outdoors with nature but a good book will also capture my attention.
What are some of your plans after retirement?
I’m looking forward to having the luxury of time to spend with my family. In addition, I hope to be able to read more, start a vegetable garden, furnish/landscape our new home in upstate New York, and learn about forestry management. The possibilities are endless!
Any words of advice for Greater IBMers?
Regardless of your role, get as close to the customer or the ‘market’ as you can. Having a deep understanding and appreciation of the ‘real-life’ issues that our clients are facing is fundamental to coming up with an approach that addresses their challenges.
Video Courtesy of IBM Smarter Marketing
- IBM Global Technology Services (GTS)
- IBM Smarter Marketing
- Women in Technology (IBM History)
- Why Are There Still So Few Women in STEM? (Greater IBM, Oct 2013)
- Women in Technology – Rejecting the Expected (Greater IBM, Sept 2013)
- Women in Technology – Make a Difference by Joining IBM
- IBM education initiatives
Originally published on The Greater IBM Connection blog in Dec 2013