Thank you, IBM

Travel Collage

After more than 20 years with IBM, I officially retire from the company this month. When I started at ‘Big Blue’ back in 1998, I had no idea what a long and wonderful ride I would have.

Thank you, IBM, for a fulfilling career.

Work enables us to grow not only as a professional but also a person. 

I joined the services organization as a business transformation consultant focused on maximizing human performance and helped clients to develop the skills of their workforce, to embrace change and transformation, to measure their impact/success, and more. About 7 years in, I moved into human resources where I led a variety of talent initiatives, including developing a global career framework, an award-winning onboarding program, a global leadership competency model, a corporate learning university for emerging technical skills, and a variety of executive leadership programs. Each role and project not only leveraged core strengths but also challenged me in ways that made me stronger and more capable. I grew not just as a professional but also as a person.

Thank you, IBM, for the flexibility of working from home.

When we appreciate what makes others unique, honor who they are, and treat them with kindness and compassion, connection happens almost magically.

I was fortunate to work from home during my entire tenure – across three moves made for my husband’s career. I always appreciated the flexibility of working remotely as well as the skills I developed working ‘virtually’, especially the ability to collaborate globally using technology. I credit strong achievement orientation and self- motivation as key characteristics supporting success as a ‘remote’ employee. Perhaps the most valuable take-away of working mostly from my home office is an ability to create meaningful relationships with people I have never me in person. I’ve found that when I appreciate what makes others unique, honor who they are, and treat them with kindness and compassion, connection happens almost magically.

People Collage

Thank you, IBM, for connecting me with so many amazing people.

What a wonderful gift to create deep, meaningful friendships at work that nourish you throughout your life.

What I’ve heard so many say is true: it’s the people that make the company. My colleagues are amazingly talented and dedicated professionals, committed to making the world a better place. I had the chance to co-create with people in a broad variety of roles across virtually all of IBM’s many businesses and around the world. I engaged with a broad spectrum of clients, both internal and external – and grew in my capacity to understand how people and organizations work. I learned from people managers, program managers, consultants, sellers, hardware technicians, software developers, and people working across all HR functions. Our shared values around trust, relationships, and innovation guided us and enabled us to break through challenges. I leave with deep friendships that will nourish me through the rest of my life – for this I am so very grateful.

Thank you, IBM, for incredible opportunities.

Sometimes our own limiting stories hold us back, and what we most need is a friend or coach to help us see the possibility within us.

Working in two organizations in at least 7 different roles, opportunities were always in abundance in the form of fresh challenges and projects. Opportunity did not always sit where I could see it clearly. Sometimes I had to dig deep to gather the courage to venture into dark and scary alleys to find an opportunity that ignited my spirit. Sometimes I shaped opportunities with my unique qualities and perspective – and, it brought me such joy to guide others in doing the same. Sometimes our own limiting stories hold us back, and what we most need is a friend or coach to help us see the possibility within us. I am grateful for those who pointed me in the right direction at the many crossroads I encountered.

NY Collage

Thank you, IBM, for rich cultural awareness and appreciation for diversity.

At our core, we all share a common humanity that can be tapped into regardless of background or language.

I learned so much over the years that I couldn’t begin to keep track (although IBM has phenomenal HR tools to help employees do just that)! One area – cultural awareness and appreciation for diversity – stands out. A career highlight was traveling the globe facilitating leadership focus groups, where I had a first-hand look at diverse cultures and the different ways that people with different traditions see and approach work and life. (And, I came away with another deep appreciation – that, at our core, we all share a common humanity that can be tapped into regardless of background or language.) A related career peak was being selected for IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, where I got to spend a month in Turkey helping clients with innovation – what fun I had learning their language and customs, eating their delicious food, and experiencing the incredible hospitality of the generous Turkish people.

Thank you, IBM, for supporting me in taking care of myself – and helping others do the same.  

It’s up to each of us to determine what we need in order to bring our best to our work.

A key discovery is that the only one who can take care of me is me! A company will take as much of you as you are willing to give, and it’s up to you to determine what you need to bring your best to your work every day. When diagnosed with breast cancer I learned the value of taking time away for not only physical but also emotional well-being — I am forever grateful to my management and team for their support. One of my final projects focused on ‘leading with resilience’ and it was an honor to spread the message that self-care is essential for success. I engaged with leaders across the business and around the globe, helping them focus on how their mindset, movement, nutrition & hydration, and recovery impact their performance. I smile with joy as I remember how great if felt leading that work.

Facilitation Collage

Thank you, IBM, for allowing me to bring my passion to my work.

There is power in vulnerability for moving through change, in authenticity for connecting with others, and in integrity for standing with calm and strength.

I’ve had opportunities to run with things that brought me joy, including designing solutions and experiences that help people be their best, facilitating leadership and learning programs, leading diverse teams, and being a mentor and coach for others. I love that my colleagues trusted me as part of our coaching community leadership team and guided me through a patent application for a popular coaching approach I co-created with a dear colleague. I was literally flying high in my final years, leading a mindfulness movement, thanks in part to the available collaborative tools and inclusive culture of the organization. I’m grateful to the managers I had along the way who trusted me and encouraged me to shine my light. Through my work I discovered that there is power in vulnerability for moving through change, in authenticity for connecting with others, and in integrity for standing with calm and strength.

Thank you, IBM, for helping me be strong, resilient, and focused.

Our experiences make us stronger and teach us about who we are and what matters.

Oh, at times I felt like I was being squeezed and sucked in by quicksand, or pushed through a mudslide, or swimming against the flow of a mighty river. And, each breath, step and stroke taught me about who I am and what matters. My experiences made me stronger. I am grateful for the challenges I found before me, and all those who helped me move through them.

Thank you, IBM. I carry so many delicious memories and so much learning with me into the next chapter. I will always have blue specks in my blood.

Final Collage

 

Note: You can also follow me at:

Where Possibility Awaits (weekly inspiring photos & quotes)

And Then Opens Possibility (poetry)

the joyfull eye (photography)

the small things (gratitude)

 

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Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, gardening, photography, cooking, crafting, sewing... Running and yoga enrich my being. I am happiest when I’m with my husband Jim. Travel opens me to new possibilities and greater awareness. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

29 thoughts on “Thank you, IBM”

    1. Elise, so wonderful to hear from you! It’s been so many years since we made a difference together, yet I remember your warm presence and joyful smile as if I were with you today. Thank you for inspiring fun at work.

  1. Vicki, you are one of my hero’s in IBM. What a tremendous difference you make to all you touch. Your commitment to stretching yourself was an example of brave leadership for all of us to learn from. What an honor to be connected with you on the journey.

    1. Ah, Rich…thank you for your lovely message. Together we made a difference in some pretty amazing ways. I, too, admired you and your leadership in bringing coaching and a coach mindset to IBM. You are tireless in your commitment to the IBM Coaching Community of Practice, and I am honored to have been a part of something so amazing, with YOU!

  2. Thanks for your journey, it is inspiring to others. I hope you a great life, with health, joy and love. Big hugs from Argentina.

  3. You will be very missed at IBM, Vicky! Although we never met in person, I have enjoyed following your blog online and connecting through IBM. Thank you for leading and sharing your journey. Wishing you much great health and happiness in whatever you do next!

    1. Anna, thank you for your well wishes and kind words. I remember the times our paths crossed, always felt like kindred spirits connecting. I have enjoyed the journey and hope that we can stay connected outside of IBM. All the best to YOU!

  4. Hi Vicki, our pathes never really crossed. I learned a lot from your external and internal blogs. Thank you so much and all the best for your life after IBM!

    1. Well, our paths certainly have crossed, even if we weren’t both always aware of it. I love how we can have a positive impact on others without knowing it. I’m so glad you’ve found something to take away in my sharing. Thank you for your well wishes. I’m excited about the future. Vicki

  5. Thank YOU, Vicki, for being willing to reach out and make a difference – it was a lucky day for me when our paths crossed.

    I LOVE the way you are embracing and honoring the end of one stage and the beginning of the next. You continue to inspire and lead.

    David Singer

    1. David, oh, how I am smiling! Our meeting was such a fun experience for me. I learned so much from you. I only wish that I had gained more wisdom about retirement when we were exploring what yours might look like! From where I sit, you look to have done pretty well – I’m inspired by the travel I see you and your wife doing. Any words of wisdom you’d share with the newly initiated? 🙂 Thank you. Vicki

      1. You seem to have gotten the travel part down well BEFORE retiring, so I can’t offer much there! 🙂 (though I will be posting about telephony and laundry in South-East Asia on my own blog sometime soon….)

        Learn to embrace the lack of conference calls!

  6. Vicki, congratulations and all the very best in this next chapter! You made a difference no matter what you did. I loved sharing the podium with you in BRI and being a part of AccEL too. You have not only made a difference to the culture in IBM, but to every person you had an opportunity to work with and lead.

    1. Susan, kindred spirits…what great opportunities and friendships. I’m delighted we got to make a difference together. I appreciate your fun-loving, pragmatic, and wise spirit, and your authenticity. Thanks for the well wishes!

  7. Hi Vicky, what a wonderful article you posted – truly inspirational and marvelously frank and honest. You are missed here and will not be forgotten.
    Enjoy your well-deserved retirement and take care.

    1. Patric, how wonderful to hear from you! I miss our collaboration and all the opportunities to support others in being healthy and well in the lives and at work. So many brilliant and passionate IBMers – like YOU – to carry on the mission. Thank you for your well wishes.

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