Digital Marketing at IBM: An Insider’s Perspective

KamilaHoe_NYU PhotoKamila Hoe currently works at IBM creating engaging educational marketing content and events for marketers both online and in-person. She graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she studied storytelling with a concentration in marketing. In her free time, she hosts a podcast where she highlights people’s stories about their passions and expertise.

What do you do at IBM?
I’m on the marketing team here at IBM, more specifically my job role falls under marketing education and enablement. I enable marketers to better do their jobs by creating engaging educational content to be used both online and in-person, and hosting in-person educational events.

What was the transition into IBM like after graduating from NYU?
I worked at a startup during my time at NYU, and like many of my friends at NYU, I had “adult responsibilities” like pay rent and bills on top of class and work— so the transition to the “adult world” and IBM wasn’t hard at all. One of the reasons I chose IBM was because of the people I interviewed with. The people that I interviewed were really great. I wanted to make sure that I had that same open startup environment feel where I felt like I could speak to people on a one to one level and have autonomy over my tasks. I definitely do find that at IBM, just in a bigger pond than at a startup.

What does the day-to-day look like for you?
Every day is so different. I come in and look at my calendar and say okay I have XYZ meetings today, then I prioritize my tasks dependent on whether or not: I have to present in a meeting, what project deadlines are coming up, if I need to speak with IBM SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) to discuss on educational material, platform launch dates, face-to-face event dates and so on. In general though it’s pretty much meetings, daily and on-going projects and prioritizing them.

What was your major in college? Were the skills you learned in school easily applicable?
I created my own major. I attended The Gallatin School of Individualized Study. All Gallatin students have to have a colloquium in order to graduate. It’s pretty much a dissertation with a chosen panel where you talk about what you studied. The name of my colloquium was The Role of Storytelling in Advertising, Culture, and Identity. The short version is that I studied Storytelling. I mixed my interests in marketing, statistics, business strategy with my interest in psychology, communication, sociology, and even the arts to take a combination of classes that allowed me to study not only how people told stories amongst themselves, but how companies told stories to its consumers to market to them.

Whenever people ask what I studied and when I tell them storytelling they wonder how I started working for IBM. I laugh and say well it’s not always what you studied but rather, how you apply it. It also helped that I had a lot of relevant work experience as well. Your resume and your story is so much more than just your major, and no matter what you studied you’ll still have to learn on the job. But I use what I studied all the time. The business courses I took allow me to better see things through a business lens. As for storytelling, well the center of good storytelling is asking “how can I communicate a narrative to my audience in a way that will be understood and impactful?” That thought process and question is something I use to guide my work daily whether it be working on an educational video, analyzing survey data, or putting together a presentation deck.

Typically how long is your day? When do you come in? When do you leave?
I usually work from 9-5/9-6 but when certain deadlines approach like thinkXchange (in person marketing event where we fly marketers in from all over the world to NYC so its event planning) I’ll probably work from 9-8 or 9-9 or even later.

Why IBM? How does the company stand out? Why did you accept IBM’s offer?
I really loved my interview process, which I think is something uncommon for people to say. I remember coming out of my first round of interviews thinking oh my god I didn’t sell myself enough because I was having the grandest time just talking about my passions. Then I got the return call for the super day interviews and that’s how Super Day went as well. During Super Day I got to see the office, how people worked and interacted with one another— that plus the interview process made me think that IBM is a company that I want to come work for. I accepted the offer because I saw that IBM would be a place where I can grow professionally, apply my skills, and connect with people in my related field—also I knew I’d like the people!

What is a common misconception about your job?
I would say that a misconception about IBM is that it’s still our grandfathers IBM. I know it’s a cliche answer to say that we’re changing and innovating but I do see that in Corporate Headquarters here in NYC. There is a change in the way we work, there’s an effort to be agile such as working in an open office environment and having daily standups on teams. For my job role specifically, I work primarily in marketing education, and a common misconception about marketing education, or just education specifically, is that it’s not necessary. I challenge that because education is absolutely necessary, especially at a company as established as IBM, it is necessary to keep everyone up to date, informed, and constantly improving. That’s what we do here at IBM CHQ.

What trends of you see in IBM Marketing that sets it apart from other organizations?
I’ve already touched upon this earlier but there’s a big change in where we’re going in terms of working with each other. People are such an important part of IBM, and the way that we work is crucial to our success. Marketing has been making major leaps to change the way we work with one another in our team, so things like co-location to make sure that you get face time with your team, having an open office, or even working in a fun WeWork space like we are right now shows that IBM is no longer what it was. IBM’s focus on how we work amongst ourselves is how we separate ourselves from other companies as large and as long-standing.

What networking skills/tools have you used to help further your career?
Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. LinkedIn is a great tool, almost everyone uses it. It’s a great platform to connect with people in a related field online as well as alumni from your school. Don’t underestimate the power of just starting a conversation and talking about what you do or your background. For something as simple as engaging in a conversation with someone and letting them know I went to NYU, I’d get responses from people saying they went there too or saying how someone who they could introduce me to also went to NYU. In my free time, I took a graduate course on AR and VR, I didn’t think it was important to talk about but when I started talking about it casually with people, they started to give me suggestions as to how I could carve a path out of this passion I have. Internet platforms like LinkedIn are great tools and networks like Elevate (the women network) are useful. But overall, talk to anybody, don’t think you have less to offer because you’re more junior.. The best opportunities are often the unseen ones that don’t come unless you open your mouth and approach someone.

Please join us at the IBM info session on Tuesday, September 19th from 3:00 – 4:15PM at the Wasserman Center and apply to both the Digital Marketing & Marketing Analytics Professional and Internship listings on NYU CareerNet.