IBM executive shares tips for a successful and satisfying career

Courtesy: Katie Emick
Courtesy: Katie Emick

By Katie Emick

Cathy Rodgers, Vice President of Global Opportunities at IBM, visited Thunderbird on Thursday to speak with students about building a successful career with impact. As a 37-year IBM veteran, a mother of two daughters, founder of a nonprofit organization, and the fourth woman to complete a half-marathon on all seven continents, Cathy exemplifies what it means to truly be a global citizen. She embodies many of the values and skillsets we learn at Thunderbird and has achieved that balance in life that many of us T-birds aspire to, satisfying both her career goals and personal aspirations.

Net Impact and MBA Women International hosted Cathy in an all-women lunch, which included an interactive and candid discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing women in the workplace. Her provocative and inspiring stories resonated with all of the students who attended, and she offered practical advice on how to navigate and harness the evolving trends in business. Cathy also presented an evening lecture, “Leadership Without Permission: Building a Career with Impact,” which highlighted her personal journey and offered valuable tips on how to achieve both personal and professional success. She discussed the importance of sustainability, the changing role of women, and the lessons she has learned throughout her life on how to climb the corporate ladder without conforming or compromising your values and integrity.

Some of Cathy’s tips included:

• Keep a positive attitude – a can-do attitude will take you far

• Surround yourself with the brightest people you can find

• Show up every day, ready to play

• Play by the rules but don’t be afraid to bend the rules

• Bring others along – success breeds more success

• Be true to yourself, and get comfortable reinventing yourself

• It’s never too late to get started

• Do what scares you

• Live life as a lifelong learner

• Be careful what you wish for

• Have fun – the best job to have is your hobby

Cathy also discussed her nonprofit, Rooted In Hope, which promotes environmental and social development in the developing world through reforestation, placing a particular emphasis on women’s empowerment and education. On Monday, November 25th, Rooted In Hope will launch a crowdfunding campaign on Global Giving to raise money for its 2014 programs in Kenya. If you would like to support this campaign or read more about Rooted In Hope’s work, please visit:

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