Advice from the VP: What Should Students Aspire to?

March 2014
Jeremy Budd

Jeremy Budd,  the Vice-President of IBM (Asia Pacific), gave an inspiring talk to students at the UEA London campus as part of Norwich Business School Employability week.  He focused on the following points:

1) Be relevant and aspire to be essential

2) Differentiate yourself – stack the odds in your favour

3) Make a positive initial impact

Jeremy shared some of his own story.  He studied Geography at Exeter University and always sought to make himself relevant.  He says he studied Geography but he also learnt other skills such as task management and time management.  In his summer holidays he had a job in a tourist ‘tack’ shop in Bournemouth where he learnt the power of interacting with people from simply remembering their name to asking them about their holiday and realised that through this means he could just about sell anything!  He also made sure that he always saw the glass as half-full and sought to have a positive attitude.

Jeremy explained at IBM they are looking for those who are ‘essential’ for the business and display the following capabilities:

  • adaptable
  • client focused
  • have a passion for the business
  • work well as part of a team
  • have excellent communication and social skills
  • a drive to achieve
  • an ability to solve problems
  • reason analytically

They are also looking for those that can differentiate themselves.  No-one can have the same network

Finally they look for those who can make a good first impression.  Jeremy commented that it takes around 30 seconds to make a good first impression.  You might ask ‘How do you get someone to like you in 30 seconds?’  Remember people identify with and are influenced by people who are like them.  In the well known book by Dale Carnegie ‘How to make friends and influence people’ he mentions six ways to make people like you:

1) Become genuinely interested in other people

2) Smile

3) Remember a person’s name

4) Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves

5) Talk in terms of the other persons interests

6) Make people feel important and do it sincerely

Jeremy also advised the students to be optimistic and reminded them that optimism is infectious!  An optimistic person sees every challenge as an opportunity.

He also encouraged everyone to build and nurture their own unique network.  At least once a week add a quality Linked IN contact.  Track leaders in business organisations who use twitter and contribute in forums.  Use your unique network to secure placements and internships.  Don’t forget to practise your interpersonal skills and focus on getting the first 30 seconds right!  Jeremy left us all with the ‘Introducing Harvey’ video from Youtube as an example of creating a good and lasting impression!

For more information on careers with IBM look here.

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