Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meet Kris Pederson Vice President, Strategy Consulting, IBM Global Business Services

Where I Met Kris
I met Kris at a birthday party for one of our mutual friends, Stephanie Boyles, founder and CEO of Unbridled Rider.  Stephanie has horse friends and techie friends and Kris is one of the business friends.
What I Really Like About Kris
Kris is smart, grounded and articulate.  I listened to her tell a story about her recent visit to the White House and was impressed with her combination of humility and strength.  I am learning how to separate what feels like tooting my own horn from valuable information people need to know about me.  Kris has already achieved this.  As the only non-engineer member of ASME (Association of Mechanical Engineers) she jokingly shared that she was not sure why she was on the board and then explained, “Well, what I am really good at is taking the very technical language and communicating the message to laypeople.”  Kris is a person who has a lot of experience in business and in life with a great deal of travel and connecting with different people.  Kris gives thoughtful answers showing she really listens to what you are saying.
Kris grew up in Southern California and remembers her dad always told her she was the smartest, most beautiful most talented person.  She had this positive reinforcement through her childhood years and it was very formative for future pursuits.  Kris mentioned that research shows most women are more conservative about taking on new responsibilities, whereas men are more likely to volunteer for a position they have limited qualifications for, that they can learn on the job.   Kris’s strong sense of self led her to be more assertive in her career progression.  Around the age of fifteen, Kris’s mom remarried a C-130 navigator and they moved to Germany for three years.  Kris went from living a charmed life on the beach with a lifeguard dad to being the foreigner in a new country.  This turned into another positive life experience and Kris gained a level of empathy for people different than her and was able to travel extensively as well.  This would also foreshadow success in her career as Kris travels quite a bit as a management consultant.
Kris came back to college and chose UCLA over Stanford to keep her tuition costs reasonable.  Kris had always planned to be a doctor and figured she’d be a student forever.  The pre-med track didn’t agree with her so Kris followed an attraction to business and psychology courses and ended up majoring in psychology and minored in business.  Kris became an auditor for CED, a large electric company, and then went on to attend Harvard Business School earning an MBA, preparing her for management consulting.   
Kris joined a small, strategic consulting firm out of school, and after 5 years, was recruited by Price Waterhouse to help build their practice in Denver in the mid ‘90s. Kris made partner in ’99 and the company was bought out by IBM in 2002.  A recent assignment with IBM was an internal transformation project for the IBM company itself and Kris learned a lot.  It is more delicate to work internally than for an external client because you are in the middle of effecting climate change and working to truly win the hearts, minds and souls of the current leadership. Kris got to work closely with Ginny Rometty, the new CEO of IBM, and the first woman to take the helm, and figure out what was going to be the personal wins for the company and the team.  Kris explains that as a consultant you have to be smart enough to figure out what the win is for the people vested in the transformation process; become a thought leader, push the envelope, and how to come across positively.
Kris’ family is Rob and their 8 year old daughter.  She reminds me that family definitely helps with your success along the way.  Kris did wait until she was a senior partner in her career to have her family.  Her husband, Rob, has created an awesome Golf Travel Business, “Rob Clark Golf Travel” and takes people around the world to golf.  His flexibility has allowed for the family to function in a harmonious way around Kris’s more structured career. 
My Ideal Client…
IBM is now the largest management consulting company in the world, in fact 60% of their income is from services instead of products.  IBM has a cool new campaign, SMARTER PLANET that is looking at how the world can be better integrated to solve the biggest challenges, and looks at three specific areas.
1. Instrumental—we all have access to devices and data
2.  Interconnected- internet, mobile apps, phones we can be connected like never before
3. Intelligent—ways to mine information and analyze everything.
For example, the mayor of Stockholm, Sweden worked with IBM to create a smart road toll system.  Drivers are incentivized to drive at off-rush hours by getting better rates on the toll roads regulated by smart chips in their cars. The reduction of traffic sitting in rush hours has reduced emissions by 20%.  A great use of technology to provide price breaks to individuals, reduce frustration levels for drivers and reduce pollution levels for everyone!
Kris’s ideal clients are decision-makers at the C-level (CEOs, presidents, CXOs) with a transformational vision. Connecting with these businesses is a process and a vision itself.  There is a great sales team in place to contact clients around the globe and IBM also has a provocative viewpoint.  IBM chooses to lead with industry perspective, talk about what a company’s problems are and their pain points and then IBM earns its right to a seat at the table.
3 SECRETS of my Personal Success
1.  Just Go For It!  See and Take opportunities outside of your comfort zone.  For me going to Harvard as the daughter of a teacher and a lifeguard was outside of my comfort zone but it really paid off and I was successful.
2.  Find a great mentor—as a woman find a female mentor.  When I was at Price Waterhouse I connected with Peggy Vaughan.  Peggy was the most senior female partner and she put me in front of firm leadership, giving me opportunities to make presentations,  assigning me to stretch project roles  beyond my experience level and continued to give me chances to excel. I asked Kris how she really was able to create this mentorship relationship.  Kris confessed that she wanted to know this woman and intentionally worked her way into Peggy’s inner circle. I didn’t have a right to be there but I asked for it.  Mentorship is such a two-way street and you have to push forward as much as you get pulled along.
The most important thing now is giving back.  Kris is on the Women’s Advisory Council for the Harvard Business School and they meet four times a year.  She is also on the board of the Association of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).  She recently attended a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) meeting at the White House which was looking at how to get more women into engineering.
3.  Be a glass half full person!  There is no such thing as the perfect life.  In my job I could lament the fact that there are many times I’d like to be a stay at home mom, get more sleep, not travel so much.  But, instead, I focus on the fact I have a self-empowered child who’s ready to take on the world, I am an interesting spouse and I have great stories from traveling.
1 Great Recommendation for the Next Person
Studies have shown that women are most happy when they are moving forward and this can be looked at in terms of career velocity. She thinks this may be one reason why women are not attracted to stay in STEM professions.  She believes you need to step up and do your best work, contribute, pay-it-forward and then ask for what you need.  Kris’s husband is undergoing cancer treatment and Kris is able to work from a home office because she’s proven she produces and is a high level performer.                                                                      
My biggest financial question/concern
Stay out of debt!  If you cannot pay it off then you don’t need it.  I stayed with my mom for a year after finishing my MBA so I could pay off the loan.  I asked Kris what she recommended if you’re reading this and area already in debt.  She said to work two jobs, look for opportunities to do internships and build your resume.  Make it a priority and then take action.
It is also so important to understand the economics of business.  Learn how to read income statements, balance sheets, etc.  Know the language!  As a management consultant Kris always has to put recommendations in terms of “so what’s the financial benefit of doing this” and quantifying what’s going to be the bottom line.
Contact Kris

I enjoy meeting with people and learning about their financial desires and challenges.  Please visit my website at or call me at 719-210-4242 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            719-210-4242      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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