Readtime: 8 minutes

Of challenges, clichés and successes

Alex about the job as IBM Senior Consultant at avantum consult

Mar 16, 2023 5:09:38 PM

IT & IBM Consulting: male domain, nerd zone, lavish salary, impressive overtime account. Have I forgotten another cliché? Let's ask a senior consultant what's true and what IBM's everyday project life has to offer in real terms. Here we go with the fact check with Alex. She is - I'm happy to say - a woman :-P

Jochen: Hi Alex, before we go deeper, why don't you tell us something about yourself and your position?

Alex: Of course. I'm Alex and I've been working at avantum's Munich office for almost six years. It all started when I joined the company in 2017 as an assistant consultant in the IBM department. A little later, I was promoted to Consultant and a little later to Senior Consultant - my current position. In the meantime, I no longer work exclusively in the IBM environment, but have also familiarised myself with SAP technology.


Jochen: You have been involved in IT and counselling for many years. Where does your enthusiasm for your profession come from and how did you get into consulting?

Alex: Actually, my enthusiasm for IT and consulting first came when I joined avantum. 
I completed a classical business degree. At that time, my professional ideas were far away from IT; from consulting even further. During our studies, we were taught the clichéd image of consulting: you can earn a lot of money, but you have to work a lot more for it; young employees are "burnt out" and you usually only do consulting for two to three years anyway.
During my application phase, a headhunter approached me. I was curious about what was behind the job description, but I didn't have high hopes due to my lack of IT know-how. Nevertheless, I was immediately invited by avantum consult for an interview in Düsseldorf. 
How successful this interview was, I don't think needs further elaboration (laughs).
What I can now say from my own experience is: consulting can also be different from the clichés you hear and IT is not as nerdy as many people might think. 😉


Alex | IBM Senior Consultant

Jochen: When you're not working, what does a perfect weekend look like for you?

Alex: My perfect weekend in winter consists of lots of snow and sun in the mountains skiing.
In spring, summer and autumn, on the other hand, the perfect weekend starts with a bike ride and ends in a beautiful Munich beer garden with friends.


Jochen: That sounds great! I'm always up for beer gardens too. But back to business: What does your day-to-day work look like? Can you describe a specific scenario, project or topic you are currently working on?

Alex: I am currently in the lead for a planning project in the human resources environment. We work according to Scrum, an agile project management approach. Therefore, my day always starts with a short "daily": a 15-minute meeting with the project team to discuss tasks and any obstacles. Then it's on to implementing my tasks and steering the project team. This includes answering questions, taking junior colleagues by the hand and imparting knowledge to them. In addition, I am in regular communication with the client, be it to give a project status, present developments or point out possible options for certain client requests.
Besides my client project, I am also part of a sustainability working group, a topic that is very close to my personal heart. In addition, I am part of another working group that aims to standardise project management across avantum and to provide colleagues with a helpful toolbox. 
As you can see, it's very varied and no two days are the same.


Jochen: What do you think you need to be successful as a consultant in the IBM environment?

Alex: Enthusiasm. Personal responsibility. The desire to have no two days be the same. That you can learn a lot, but you also have to organise and structure yourself. Having the courage to try things out. Being willing to step out of your comfort zone. To enter into conversations with the customer. Questioning the customer's wishes and being there to advise the customer.

Jochen: How important are freedom and further development to you and how does avantum support you in this?

Alex: Very important. What I really like about avantum is that I can act on my own responsibility. I always have the opportunity to bring in new ideas, which are also questioned and pushed forward by the team. When it comes to further development, it is important to be aware of where you want to go and to actively communicate this and to inform yourself about possible further training measures. This is another area where avantum provides support.

Jochen: I know that IBM consulting is your absolute dream job 😊. Are there nevertheless points that sometimes annoy you? And if you could have one wish fulfilled by avantum, what would it be? 

Alex: Of course there are always situations that annoy me, otherwise it would be boring (laughs), especially in the project business it goes without saying that not everything always works like clockwork. My own impatience sometimes plays the main role. If something doesn't go fast enough for me, it gets on my nerves. 
My wish for avantum is to promote the feedback culture even more actively. The mindset that critical feedback, in particular, can always have positive aspects, for example, with regard to one's own further development, is not yet present in everyone. 

Jochen: On 8 March is International Women's Day. What do you associate with it and what relevance does this day have for you?

Alex: I am for modern equality. It should not be relevant which gender a person has. For me, there doesn't have to be a special day in the year. We should work every day to ensure that all people have equal rights and are treated equally. 

Jochen: In 2021, the proportion of women in the IT industry was 19%. So the IT & IBM environment is still rather a male domain. What do you think is the reason for that?

Alex: When I was at school, for example, this was already a firmly established thing: girls were "better" in social, artistic or linguistic branches, whereas boys were better in technical and mathematical branches. Back then, children were also led in a certain direction by their parents. I went to a girls' secondary school where neither a mathematics nor a technical branch was offered. This then follows through from school to university or vocational training and finally to a job. I think that says a lot about where the lower percentage of women in the IT sector comes from. 
I already have the feeling that we women are unfortunately still branded in this respect. But I notice that the mindset of society is currently changing in the right direction. It just takes time. 

Jochen: Have you ever had the impression that male colleagues have an easier time with clients and that you have to put in extra effort as a woman?

Alex: Yes, I have experienced that myself. My impression from my own experience is that the first hurdle for women is often much higher. As a woman, you usually have to prove yourself first before the necessary competence is attributed to you; with men it is often the other way around. 
Nevertheless, I must also say that once you have overcome this hurdle, the gender difference is often no longer noticeable. 
In addition, there have been situations in my career where I had the impression that I had it easier as a woman. Especially when it comes to empathy, women are often one step ahead of their male colleagues 😊 

Jochen: Thank you very much for the interview, dear Alex!

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