Kimberly Smith, | Global Vice President Cloud Innovation Services | IBM

Kimberly Smith: Setting an Example for Women in Cloud

“Technology is an amalgamation of all industries since there is no sector which defies its power. Everyone is influenced and impacted by the technologies and technologists are builders of the new world,” believes Kimberly Smith, the Global Vice President of Cloud Innovation Service, Microsoft Cloud Alliance, IBM.

In an interview with Insights Success, Kimberly shares her valuable insights on how she forged new paths in the technological arena.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient leader in the IT and Cloud sector.

I began my professional journey while attending college running data center back up processes in the Polymers Division for DuPont. Technology at the time was magnetic tape driven and moving data to different centers meant shifting tapes off a mainframe device and transferring them to another machine, we truly have come so far. I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in the radical shift from on-premise environments to hybrid cloud-based technologies which has required transformation in every sense of the word.

On my path, I went from manufacturing to financial services running risk management and FinTech efforts advancing the retail credit banking sector before moving into consulting and the high tech industry. Having the chance to work at companies like The Bank of New York,

Microsoft, Capgemini, Adobe, and IBM, has given me a broad spectrum of experiences that I apply in every aspect of my career. In my travels, I have found that being agile, flexible, and willing to take calculated risks has opened new doors to experiences and leadership opportunities I never could have imagined.

In many instances, the role I took on didn’t exist; there was no job description. Forging new paths can be daunting but I have found energy and passion in being willing to take on challenges and see the potential where it otherwise might not be seen to exist.

30 years of culminated experience has resulted in my imagination knowing no limits to what we can achieve when we are empowered through technology and human potential.

How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to entice the target audience?

Identification of your end goal can be determined by the impact you wish to achieve with your target audience. The spectrum of diversification that products and services IBM has to offer is unfathomable. We are a huge organization with a history of serving people, hence diversity is key to affect as many lives as we do. Every day, we must take into consideration the diversity of thought, action, behaviors, experiences, and backgrounds if we are to approach and solve complex challenges that have massive implications on humanity. As technologists, none of us fit in a box anymore; our ability to comprehend and value our differences results in better solutions and accessibility for all.

One of the factors of success I have seen to achieve the desired goal in technologically driven solutions is to establish guardrails, apply governance without obsessing over the process. In my personal experience it all comes down to asking the question, ‘How can we think outside the box to create convenience and value for all?’

What are the vital traits that every businesswoman should possess?

As a female leader in an industry predominantly led by men, I have seen tremendous advancements. As an optimist, I believe in the continual change women lead with fortitude and allyship.

Every generation of women faces their own roadblocks in this space. It is my responsibility to break the barriers I confronted, and sweep up the broken glass on my way up. I am only successful because of the women who have broken their backs carrying us here, and if I defy paying it forward, it is a disservice to the future generation.

Women empowering other women provides an opportunity to pull those behind us along with us to demolish the walls ahead; since it is not justified for women of this generation to deal with problems of the previous generation. This is the easiest way to ensure industry-wide progress. Hence, if there is one trait I truly believe in, it is creating access and empowering other women.

As per your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges were faced by you in a corporate business? And how did you overcome them?

Each of us carries our own bag of rocks. The challenge is to put the bag down, take out a few rocks every chance we get and then move forward. Every day demands effort to continue on this journey. In a room full of people, I have been denied an opportunity to speak but the real challenge was to address the lack of more so than the discrimination itself. In this environment, I think being shutdown is inevitable, but if you let fear conquer your intention, failure is guaranteed.

It takes endurance to identify your limitations and replenish your energy before fighting the system. The flawed structure of this industry forces us to face similar problems women have had to deal with for decades draining our stamina. Hence, knowing your limitations, restoring your bucket while supporting others and allowing yourself to course correct is the path forward. The ability to stop and look at the bigger picture prepares you to propel in this industry.

What are your insights on “The myth of meritocracy”? And how it could bring a change in today’s business arena?

Technology is a crucial necessity in the most diverse time There is a massive attic of junk and value both in our brains and our homes which will exhaust us eventually if we let it. I try not to lose perspective or get lost in the tools I use. If it doesn’t provide faster time to value or remove a point of friction in my life, I let it go. If it does, then the technology becomes an enabler for my own empowerment.

As a leader in the industry I encourage working smarter not just harder. To be thoughtful about what critical path will lead to higher quality results with enriched & relevant impact, that is what defines success for me. I do my best to maintain a consistent focus on the importance of these factors in my daily life.

How do you cope up with capricious IT and other technological trends to boost your personal growth? 

The rapid shift in technological advancements is creating a state of cognitive dissonance in people. There are healthy fear and excitement; a never-ending cycle of this solution will be obsolete tomorrow but there is a dire need for it today. This industry has eased lives all around the world while consciously embedding software and hardware that take over, it is a scary and breath-taking development.

Technology is a desperate necessity in the most diverse time on this planet. Nonetheless, it is important to create sustainable advancements from here on. There is a massive attic of value and junk both in our brains and our homes which will exhaust us eventually. While I am excited for what is to come, I would prefer seeing my children’s photographs on my phone more often than every other thing.

What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?

I have spent a lifetime advancing technological improvements that affect lives around the globe. It is humbling to have the chance to be part of immense impact like that. Now, I am selective of my time and would really like to pay it forward.

While technological solutions narrate my past, I want my future to be about empowering and paving a path for the next generation to experience this magnificent industry that knows no bounds.