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ASTD Sales Training Virtual Conference Series: Leadership Change at IBM Benefits Sales Learning with Paula Cushing

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Wed Nov 30 2011

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On October 25, the IBM Board of Directors elected Virginia "Ginni" Rometty president and chief executive officer of IBM, and a member of the board, effective January 1, 2012. She will replace Samuel Palmisano, who will remain chairman of the board. In an international company as large and complex as IBM, you may think that this is an insignificant happening from a Learning standpoint. However, because of the deep partnership that IBM Sales Learning had forged with Ginni in her senior vice president role overseeing IBM's global sales, global strategy, marketing and communications, it is as if a member of our team has ascended to this position of global significance.

Over the last 100 years, IBM has transformed its workforce many times, in many cases creating the most vaunted workforce in the technology industry, or any industry, for that matter. Through its Sales Eminence transformation, the Sales Learning team partnered with Ginni over the last three years to transform IBM's sales force by developing and deploying innovative learning solutions that are broadening and deepening the skills, capabilities and expertise of IBM's 38,000 sellers, accelerating their productivity and enabling them to deliver exceptional client value and grow profitable revenue. Core elements of the partnership and transformation are a newly developed and deployed T-shaped Professional Sales Model and a redesigned Sales Career Model. The T-shaped Professional Model represents the breadth and depth of the skills, capabilities and expertise that are required of all IBM sellers and sales leaders. The new design of the Sales Career Model simplified sales job roles into three career paths: industry, solution, technical. Developing and deploying these new models were significant accomplishments and could not have been achieved without Sales Learning's partnership with Ginni, or our partnerships with other areas of the business.

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For a learning professional, there is no better place to be than partnered at the highest level of the business, aligning with your clients as a trusted ally, contributing as a consultant to short- and long-term strategy discussions and being an integral part of driving business success. After all, partnering is a condition of success for the learning function. But there are perks and perils associated with powerful partnerships. The learning professional that achieves eminence and delivers results knows how to earn and leverage the perks and avoid and survive the perils.

In the new year, for IBM Sales Learning, our "partner" will be occupying the corporation's CEO office, bringing with it new perks and perils for our team. We're ready for the challenges and the opportunities, as IBM embarks on its second 100 years.

Paula Cushing is Director of Sales Learning within IBM's Center for Learning and Development, a position she has held since 2008. In this role, Paula and team are transforming IBM's sales learning strategy by developing and deploying innovative learning solutions that are broadening and deepening the expertise of IBM's 38,000 sellers, accelerating their productivity and enabling them to deliver exceptional client value and grow profitable revenue.

To hear more from Paula, dont forget to register for the ASTD Sales Training Virtual Conference with a live kickoff keynote address on December 5th, 2011 at 12 PM EST.

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