Photo (above): Ida Kamaria Ghazali (second from right), leader – HR shared services and HR global accounting of IBM Malaysia, receiving the Best International Organisation award from Datuk Seri Idris Jala at the Life At Work Awards 2015.
For IBM, winner of the Best International Organisation category, diversity and inclusion is a way of life. IBMers leverage their diversity and differences for innovation, collaboration, and client success.
IBM respects personal obligations and offers flexibility programmes to help women integrate work and life schedules or duties. Changing careers in IBM does not have to mean changing employers. The organisation will do its best to accommodate the demanding needs of women to achieve work-life integration.
IBM’s flexibility principles and options
IBMers have options on how, when and where to work: Flexible Work Options (FWOs)
Building a culture of trust and personal responsibility across all relationships is one of the key principles of IBM’s flexible work arrangements.
Advancing women in IBM
IBM places a very high value of importance on its women workforce to help them succeed within their professional and personal commitments. About two-thirds of IBM’s women executives across the world are working mothers – clearly demonstrating that IBM women do not have to choose between a career and motherhood.
Women in IBM Network Groups (WINGs)
IBM Malaysia established a business resource group to drive women’s agenda and initiatives within the company. The group, globally recognised by IBM, was aptly rebranded as Women in IBM Network Groups (WINGs) in November 2014.
WINGs has a mission of inspiring and enabling women to achieve their full career and leadership potential, through activities planned around three pillars: Empower, Educate, and Expose.
WINGs programmes include networking events, media outreach, and mentoring with Global IBM Executives.
Ida Kamaria Ghazali, Leader – HR shared services and HR global accounting
Ida has been with IBM for over 18 years. She started her career as a consultant and progressed to leading the HR consulting practice in Malaysia. Since then, she has moved to leading the HR Delivery Centre with over 300 employees.
Currently, she wears three-hats as IBM Malaysia’s HR shared services leader, HR global accounting leader, and as president of IBM Malaysia’s Women in IBM Network Groups (WINGs).
“As a single mother, I needed flexibility to juggle my commitments with my two young boys. Between ferrying them to and from school and looking after the daily home affairs, I felt I needed to be in 10 places at once. Thankfully, my leaders, locally and globally, were supportive and entrusted me to craft a working arrangement that best suit my needs. At the end of the day, it is the work I deliver and not where I deliver it from that matters. IBM gives me the flexibility to pursue both my personal and career goals without sacrificing one for the other.”
Journey to the top
Chong Chye Neo, managing director, IBM Malaysia
IBM Malaysia announced the appointment of Chong Chye Neo as managing director on Sept 1, 2015.
The appointment is historic, as she is the first woman to take on the role of managing director since IBM’s establishment in Malaysia in 1961. Chong was at the Life at Work Awards on Sept 9 to celebrate IBM’s win, and shares with us her journey to the top.
Was the position of managing director planned out for you?
I didn’t plan for it, but I believe there is a time and place for everything. The timing for this position couldn’t have been better as I just sent my younger child off to university abroad. If I was offered the role five years ago, I would have had second thoughts as both my children were in high school and needed my time and attention. Now, I have the time to focus fully on the business and work closely with my teams to create greater value for our customers.
Did you have any role models, mentors or sponsors?
I have been fortunate to be mentored by some of the best leaders and managers throughout my career in IBM. They instilled within me the importance of excellence in execution, teamwork, tenacity and trust to get the job done. In my early years, my late father and great-grandfather were my role models. My father coached me to be the best that I could be in anything that I chose to do. My great-grandfather taught me compassion.
What were your key challenges in getting to the top?
Balancing priorities with ambition was a challenge. Working professionals have different priorities at different times of their lives. It was no different for me as a professional, a wife, a mother and a daughter, to balance priority with ambition. No-one can decide for another person which is more important. Only the individual can decide for himself or herself. And timing really matters.
IBM has been your only employer, what has made you loyal to IBM?
I did work but briefly in another company before joining IBM. In IBM, you are not limited to a single career path. It is a 390,000-strong organisation across 150 countries and every IBMer has the opportunity to select a profession and the flexibility to change professions as they grow with the company. I started my career in IBM as a systems engineer and, as I grew in my career, I had the opportunity to take on roles in marketing, various distribution channels and sales across multiple industries and product lines, as well as management roles at the country and regional levels. IBM also allows its employees to take leave of absence (LOA) to attend to personal or family matters. I am thankful that IBM has granted me LOA twice and to return each time to roles that were interesting, challenging, and allowed me to continue to grow with the company.
What would you advise women who’ve just started out in their careers?
My advice would be:
- Build a strong foundation for yourself. Work hard, team well and develop deep competencies in your chosen field. And more importantly, demonstrate your capacity as a reliable employee who delivers results.
- Grow your network within and outside the organisation. It is important to be in touch with the people and the industry that you work in, to understand how it works and how you can contribute effectively as a professional.
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