Letina Connelly

BSc 1986, Vice-President, Strategy & Business, Development Emerging Markets, IBM

How did ANU shape you?

Fundamentally my ANU experience taught me how to learn, organise my time, be accountable for deliverables and be consistently curious – constantly questioning why is something the case. ANU gave me the confidence that if I choose to learn something I can. From day one of my working life until the present day I use these skills, always.

Tell us a bit about your career?

Today I work for IBM USA on assignment to Japan. I have been based in Japan since 2011 but my job, especially over the last 8 years, has been located and focused across the Global Emerging Markets and Japan. I have lived in Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo. I started with IBM in 1986 straight after graduation believing I would work for them for two years and then move onto the next company but somehow I’m still with the same company.

I have had many experiences during this time and it is hard to pin down one great professional moment – there have been many – from meeting and working with people from Brazil to USA, Middle East, Russia, India, China, all across Asia, most recently Africa and now Japan.

I have worked across disciplines – marketing, sales, technical, country, region and corporate headquarters in New York. I have worked with some of the most brilliant minds in research and creative people not to mention numerous clients, analysts, academics, scientists and very senior accomplished general managers.

My career to date has not followed a typical path, in fact sometimes I have asked myself is there any pattern to my career? The conclusion I have come to is that I’m clearly drawn to areas that are new and emerging where the path is unclear and requires creativity to establish some structure. I have had to define how to drive some clarity on next steps and ultimately to become a ‘going concern’. Once in that phase I tend to move onto the next ‘out of control’ emerging trend or something that resembles an emerging business opportunity. Flexibility has been a fundamental ingredient to survive and thrive across these roles.

Why ANU?

My choice of ANU was simple. It had a reputation for quality and I liked the connection with research. For me, I started university not knowing what my next steps were to be, I didn’t have a specific career in mind so I needed at least something that was quality. I was a very quiet ANU student – just studying and returning home to study more.

Your advice to students and alumni?

Do your best, find out just how good you can be. Stretch your brain and make it work. Try to be balanced and stretch your academic muscle as well as get to know yourself and join in clubs that interest you as well as give you some sports forte. Use your time at university, which is incredibly special and a privilege. You’re building life-skills that you will come back many times over.

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