Up until a few years ago I was convinced I was destined for a career within academia, with an aim of one day becoming a professor and leading my own research lab. I have always loved science, a passion which led to me pursuing a PhD in Biotechnology, after completion of my Biology undergraduate at the University of Birmingham. However, towards the end of my PhD studies I started considering what non-academic jobs my skillset could suit and came to the conclusion that consulting would be perfect. I enjoyed handling and presenting data, increasing process efficiency, working in teams, problem solving and exploring new technologies and industries. Having explored and assessed various companies, I was particularly impressed by IBM and embarked on the challenging recruitment process. Even after receiving an offer, I was nervous about the transition from academia into the business world, especially into an IT industry with limited IT experience/knowledge.
Fast-forward two years and I have made the most incredible friendships and worked with some of the most exciting and cutting-edge technologies within the IT industry. The learning curve throughout has been exponential. IBM provide the perfect environment for early professionals to develop, meaning individuals can truly shape their skills and career path. My ambition is to deliver complex programmes and solutions for clients, so I have focused primarily on developing my Project Management skills. My first project was supporting an ambitious application migration programme for a Major UK Financial Institution, shifting legacy applications from on-prem infrastructure to IBM’s private cloud. Within my first year I fulfilled roles as an analyst, change manager, project manager and eventually as commercial lead of a team of both onshore and offshore resources. For me, this highlights why so many people enjoy consulting, it gives individuals the opportunity to continuously reinvent and develop themselves by undertaking different roles across multiple industries.
At this stage (Early 2020) I was grateful I had chosen a career in consulting; despite all the late nights and tricky client meetings I was enjoying my work and was continuously looking for new challenges. However, Covid-19, a swift national lockdown and lack of human interactions quickly posed a totally new and unexpected obstacle to both IBM and our clients. Shortly after the first national lockdown, IBM’s focus shifted towards the public sector as work opportunities with government clients increased as the UK prepared to deal with the impacts of Covid-19. I began actively trying to break into a project within the Public sector.
Joining a project remotely is a bizarre experience, but I have found both the client and IBM teams have been very welcoming and understanding. There is a realistic possibility that by the time the project ends I won’t have actually met any of my client or IBM colleagues in person! This aside, this new project has been an excellent opportunity to further stretch myself. I have become accustomed to Agile and DevOps ways of working and have built on my cloud technology knowledge this year by become certified (only at practitioner-level) in Amazon’s cloud offering Amazon Web Services (AWS). In early 2021 we extended our contract with the client and I am now delivery/contract manager for a team of 15+ fantastic IBMers and we are continuing to deliver excellent results for the client.
For those considering consulting as a career choice I could not advocate it enough, if you are like me and get a buzz from improving a process or successfully solving a complex problem then it is definitely for you. The pure variety in roles and experiences that consulting offers is second-to-none and there is the added benefit of travel opportunities too (when Covid-19 allows). I have seen colleagues who joined IBM as a fresh-faced nervous graduate, become technical leaders within DevOps methodology, and young apprentices advising client execs in board meetings. The opportunity to develop and the trust and responsibility given to you is both daunting and incredible at the same time. It feels like it has been a long two years so far, but I can’t wait for whatever comes next!