by Rachel Reiss
To my fellow self-improvement enthusiasts — do you know IBM offers professional coaching services? I was first introduced to IBM Blue Core Coaching (BCC) as a new hire looking to navigate a few career decisions. I was so inspired by my own coach’s guidance that I went through the training to become a certified Blue Core Coach myself. Since then, I have tried to emulate the BCC mission of “touching lives” by establishing my own coaching relationships and bringing visibility to BCC as a resource among my peers.
While BCC services are invaluable, they aren’t universally known. In order to amplify their reach, BCC has developed partnerships with several internal programs so that all IBMers have the opportunity to benefit from coaching. Currently, I am co-managing the BCC partnership with one of IBM’s New Collar workforce programs: P-TECH at IBM.
P-TECH allows for students to take high school and college coursework simultaneously while gaining relevant technical expertise. Students who matriculate through the program and intern with IBM may ultimately choose to work with IBM upon graduation. As Arvind has emphasized a relentless focus on expanding P-TECH at IBM in 2021, the Blue Core Coaching partnership represents one of several ways we can ensure these graduates emerge confident and well-equipped to achieve their career goals.
P-TECH graduates at IBM who opt into coaching are matched with a coach through a thoughtful and personalized process. Once the match is made, Blue Core Coaches work to learn about the person as a whole: what makes them proud, what makes them unique, and their values, aspirations, and perceived obstacles. This provides the necessary context for a fruitful coaching relationship. The two meet monthly, and engage in a creative process that inspires the coachee to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches help clarify the coachee’s goals, encourage self-discovery, elicit coachee-generated solutions and strategies, and hold the coachee accountable for progressing against their goals. In this sense, coaching, as an enabler of change, differs from mentoring. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, mentoring describes a more transactional relationship, in which a mentor offers specific expertise and advice. Coaches provide support and expand one’s perceptions of what they already know how to do.
Blue Core Coaches provide fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities. In a P-TECH context, the aim is to expand the coachee’s network, increase work/life satisfaction, and strengthen the coachee’s personal influence and impact as they build their career at IBM. While our partnership kicked off back in Fall 2020, as we continue to offer Blue Core Coaching to new cohorts, we will actively solicit feedback to ensure both coach and coachee get the most out of their relationship. So far, coaches have enjoyed building a connection with a meaningful program, and supporting IBM’s efforts in building an inclusive workforce.