The 2012 Women Leaders in Consulting: Sharon Hodgson

Sharon HodgsonClient Service Award

Sharon Hodgson
IBM Global Business Services

As a student of Business and Information Management studies, Sharon Hodgson knew that she loved business and wanted to focus her career on transforming organizations. She wasn’t sure she had a specific industry/vertical interest that would anchor her career, but consulting seemed like a good place to test out her theories.

Her first two-year stint as a consultant was great, she says, and the variety of industries and problems kept her very challenged so she signed up for two more years. “Soon enough it was clear that consulting was in my blood,” she says. “I have never lost my passion for consulting because I realized that there is always a next big challenge to solve either within our clients or internally around growing the business.”

All those two-year stints added up to more than a 20-year career where she has led the delivery of large, complex transformation programs at clients, including Nestle, Merck, Pitney Bowes and FMC. These programs involved directing the activities of 300 to 1,000 client team members to fundamentally change how their companies operate and use information, to deliver several hundreds of millions of dollars in overall benefits.

“Being surrounded by smart, talented and thoughtful individuals is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” she says. “My colleagues are a valuable source of insight and input, and I enjoy working with them to uncover different aspects of problem solving.”

Today, that problem solving is around business analytics as Hodgson leads IBM’s Business Analytics and Optimization practice in North America, where she oversees more than 1,000 consultants who advise the world’s top companies.

“I deeply value my interactions with my clients,” she says. “Fundamentally, I enjoy the core of what I do—and that is formulating creative solutions for pressing business challenges.”

Earlier this year, Hodgson was instrumental in IBM’s unveiling of new services and software to reduce fraud, manage financial performance and predict customer behavior. Called Smarter Analytics Signature Solutions, the capabilities are based on experiences drawn from more than 20,000 analytics client engagements.

Hodgson credits much of her success to the firm that makes it all possible. “At IBM, I have never felt disadvantaged being a woman,” she says. “In fact, it has been the opposite: I may have received more exposure to opportunities because of built-in company-wide programs that were designed to grow the talent pool of high-potential women.”

It is essential for any woman, she says, to figure out what are her key priorities in life and understand where she will get the biggest gratification. “That varies from individual to individual,” she says. “We are all challenged in making choices about how we spend our time. What I always do on a daily basis is to figure out what matters to me, and not to other people necessarily. Then I execute on those choices.”

It’s served her well, both professionally and personally. Most people today strive, and perhaps struggle, to achieve a healthy work-life balance, Hodgson says. “I realized early on, that striking a balance is attainable, but sometimes the scales would not be perfectly balanced at all times,” she says.

“I consider myself fortunate to have achieved the success I have had in my career, while being married for 22 years and raising a family,” she says. “My husband has been a great source of support, and truly a partner.”

Service Line: