October 2016, event 17 at IBM

On the 17th October, IBM invited 120 guests to attend the 17th Connecting Women in Technology (CWT) event, hosted in the IBM Client Centre. Attendees were invited from each of the 8 companies that form CWT – Avaya, Cisco, Dell, HPE, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Google.

Eileen Brown Connecting Women in Technology cwt-ibm-2016

The event was centered around the question of ‘Are you bringing your whole self to work?’ and featured guest speakers focusing on this topic. David Stokes, IBM Chief Executive for UKI, opened the afternoon sharing his thoughts on what diversity means to himself and IBM.

Whilst acknowledging the progress made within the IT industry, he recognised the need to encourage more female talent and to break down the stigma around talking about our personal challenges in the workplace.

Carmina Lees, UKI VP of Security and Executive Sponsor for Women, followed David and discussed how by having a supportive and flexible work environment, she is able to focus on being a mother, be successful in her career and add value to the business.

Carmina then introduced the agenda for the afternoon and Exercise Ice Maiden. Major Natalie Taylor, one of the leaders of the exercise, spoke to the audience regarding her on-going training as part of a six woman team from the British Army to cross the Antarctic in 2017.

The first all-female British military team ever to attempt this feat, they will trek 1,700km in temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius. Natalie discussed how being herself in work, and finding her own spark had given her motivation to achieve her goals and allowed her to be part of such an extraordinary operation. She encouraged the attendees to ‘find their own spark’. Our agenda is below:

  • 12.45pm: Arrival and Registration
  • 1.30pm: Introduction and Welcome – David Stokes IBM General Manager, UK & Ireland & Carmina Lees Vice President, Security Business Unit UKI
  • 2.00pm: Breakout Session 1
  • 1. “Attitude & Authenticity” – Leila Singh
  • 2. “The Power of Role Models’ – Rav Bumbra
  • 3. “Should I bring my whole self to work?” – Ishreen Bradley
  • 2.45pm: Coffee
  • 3.15pm: Breakout Session 2
  • 1. “Attitude & Authenticity” – Leila Singh
  • 2. “Should I bring my whole self to work?” – Ishreen Bradley
  • 4.00pm: Summary of Breakouts/Discussion/Q&A
  • 4.40pm: Keynote Speaker Kate Nash
  • 5.30pm: Wine and Canapes

3 breakout sessions followed and provided attendees with the opportunity to engage with thought provoking speakers around topics such as ‘Should I bring my whole self to work?’ and ‘Attitude & Authenticity’.

The feedback really showed how valuable these sessions were to the attendees. Following the breakouts, the key note speaker Kate Nash OBE, Networkologist and Creator of PurpleSpace (a leadership development hub and on-line platform for network leaders), discussed why bringing your whole self to work is key.

If an excellent keynote and engaging breakout sessions weren’t enough to encourage attendance to this kind of event, the networking opportunity was invaluable.

Diversity BRGs/Networks were invited including LGBT, People with Disabilities and Ethnicity, all in light of bringing together Women (and quite a few men!) from the big technology companies to share and develop together in an inclusive setting.

Despite that, the event was of course open to men and feedback also shows they had a great day too! You can follow @IBMWomenUK on twitter and see further photos and the sessions are available to stream here using the password Cwit2016.